Journalist and Writer
Hilary Wilce specialising in all aspects of education
Image of Hilary Wilce

The Quandary - 04 Feb 2010

How can I persuade my son to choose A level sciences when he says they are too hard?

Hillary's Advice

This query comes in the wake of the head of Harrow School lambasting state schools for steering pupils towards ‘soft’ A level options and thus, he says, diminishing their chances of getting into top universities. All very well, says this parent, but how do you persuade a reluctant child to take the tougher road?

First of all, be sure that this is the right thing to do. Is your son genuinely interested in science? Because, if not, you shouldn’t be trying to steer him in that direction.

If you sense that he is, but simply balking at A levels, then discuss his doubts and try to deal with them. Is it dull teachers? Well, you can have those in any subject. Is it a particular area of difficulty, like maths or physics? If so, maybe he could have extra tuition. Is it the sheer amount of work? Well, arts students have a lot of work, too. Think of all that coursework they have to do. Is it wanting to be with his friends? Well, they’ll all still be at school together and isn’t it time to start being his own person?

Try and talk things over as adults, without pressure and stress, and remember to listen properly to everything he has to say. Discuss career options and the areas of interest science might open up for him, but do all this bearing in mind not only that you might not win the argument, but also that you might not even be right!