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NEWT schedules - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
NEWT schedules

I mentioned in an offhand way that Teddy would take quite a lot of NEWTs (seven, I think), and got Brit-picked as that's more than an A-level student would normally take (I think three was the number given). Only... I know Harry took at least five NEWT level courses (Potions, Herbology, Transfiguration, Charms, Defense), and I could have sworn there was another, though I could be wrong. Ron took a similar number (I think the same classes!) and he's not an extraordinary student, so they must not be exact equivalents of A-levels.

Would six or seven classes for Teddy, given that he's going into a very academic job, be way out of the question? (I'll fudge it on the post I'm working on, but I'd like to know.)
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sixth_light From: sixth_light Date: June 10th, 2010 05:12 am (UTC) (Link)
Three is definitely normal for Britain. In the NZ Bursary system, which I think was vaguely related to A-levels, five subjects was the regular load, but I can tell you that even there seven would be *right out*, unless Teddy was bright enough to do a couple a year early.
riah_chan From: riah_chan Date: June 10th, 2010 05:22 am (UTC) (Link)
Maybe he can take the courses but not the tests? Like some kids do with AP classes here? (Knows nothing about British schooling...)
lilacsigil From: lilacsigil Date: June 10th, 2010 05:52 am (UTC) (Link)
Did it ever say how many subjects Hermione took at that level? It was said that qualifying as an Auror was difficult, so I would think that 5 was a reasonably heavy course load, if not super-academic

I did seven subjects when 4-6 is the norm, but I had to do one by correspondence. A time turner might have helped!
rotae From: rotae Date: June 10th, 2010 05:56 am (UTC) (Link)
Bill Weasley took, and passed, all 12 NEWT subjects offered at Hogwarts. Hermione was on track to taking 11. 7 can definitely be done, LOL.

Also, the Teddy sketch is done! Just need to scan and colour it after I've finished some other commitments :D And he has the straight hair you give him :)

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 10th, 2010 06:18 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you--I knew something was sticking in my brain! All right, I'm totally piling the classes on, then. Canon trumps Brit-picking.

And yay for Teddy sketch!
rotae From: rotae Date: June 10th, 2010 06:25 am (UTC) (Link)
LMAO. Exactly. Since when as ANYTHING stopped JKR? XDDD

Yes! I can't wait to finish this current picture so I can get started on Teddy :D What colour hair do you want him to have?

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 11th, 2010 04:09 am (UTC) (Link)
Hmm, so many choices for hair... I think, when he's not performing for Marie and Aimee's amusement, that he mostly just puts in a streak here or there for emphasis. So far, all the icons have had some shade of greenish-blue or green... let's stick with the theme, if that's good with you!
kiwi_kimi From: kiwi_kimi Date: June 10th, 2010 06:20 am (UTC) (Link)
Bill got 12 OWLs, but I don't remember his NEWTs being mentioned. I could be wrong, of course :-)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 10th, 2010 06:21 am (UTC) (Link)
Hmm. Maybe it was the OWLs sticking in my brain. Quite messy. But oh, well.
rotae From: rotae Date: June 10th, 2010 06:23 am (UTC) (Link)
Ahhhh, yes. Quite right. Though if they allow Hermione (and I'm assuming Bill) to use a time-turner for OWLs, then I don't see why they wouldn't allow it for NEWTs if that's what you wanted to do...

kikei From: kikei Date: June 10th, 2010 06:18 am (UTC) (Link)
The IB curriculum recognises 6 compulsory subjects, and allows for a 7th - I'd heard that the IB Diploma was getting more popular in Britain with schools phasing out A-Levels (and it's been around since the 1960s).
kiwi_kimi From: kiwi_kimi Date: June 10th, 2010 06:26 am (UTC) (Link)
Harry didn't return to Hogwarts for Year Seven, the NEWT year. With NEWTs being loosely based on A-Levels, it might be common to take c. 5-7 subjects in Year Six, and reduce to 3-4 (or exceptionally 5) in Year Seven.

*But* Rowling doesn't obsessively map Hogwart's system on a real-world one (and anyway, Scotland's is traditionally a little different from England's!), so I think you have a fair amount of room for artistic licence.
tdu000 From: tdu000 Date: June 10th, 2010 06:27 am (UTC) (Link)
The NEWTs and OWLs don't exactly parallel the O'levels (now superceded by GCSEs) and A'levels, although the O' (Ordinary) levels clearly inspired the name for OWLs. They are taken at the same time in schooling (end of 5th and 7th years) and are all 2 year course but the students seem to take more courses at Hogwarts for each level. So Bill took 12 OWls, which would be virtually impossible for O'levels unless the student was very bright and the school made allowances for her to take some early. As JKR hasn't said how many subjects was the norm, I don't see why you can't devise your own system. Hogwarts is in Scotland anyway and the Scottish curriculum is different to England, Wales and Northern Ireland. I'm out of date, but in my day the Scottish 'Highers" included more subjects than the A'levels. (And more than 3 was quite possible. At my school the standard number was 4 A'levels with a possible 5 for students who wanted to take up the extra work load.)
From: tree_and_leaf Date: June 10th, 2010 07:37 am (UTC) (Link)
Three isn't normal for Britain. It is normal for England, and only then if you're doing A-Levels - and even if Teddy went to a Muggle school in Scotland, he wouldn't be doing A-levels.

I went to school in Scotland, and did Highers. Five is normal there - and if you're doing the International Baccalaureate, as some private schools in England and Scotland do, I think it could potentially be six or seven.

Bottom line: it doesn't matter what the A-Level system is, there's no reason why NEWTs, which are a different exam system anyway, should correspond to it. It's not even as if it's universally used in Britain.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 10th, 2010 02:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ah, I had an impression of the UK with a sort of national curriculum--my bad.
katchuri From: katchuri Date: June 10th, 2010 03:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
There is a national curriculum, but it only applies until 16 (end of year 11). Post 16 education has no requirements or constraints.

I always imagined the NEWTs system to be slightly more like the international baccalaureate than A-levels. Whereby students study 6-7 subjects at a high level, but in slightly less depth than an A level allows due to time constraints.
miss_tilney From: miss_tilney Date: June 10th, 2010 05:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
The curriculum and exam system is different in Scotland to England as education is devolved to the relevant governments. Not sure about Wales and Northern Ireland but I think they might both be different again.

From: tree_and_leaf Date: June 10th, 2010 08:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, there's an English and a Scottish national curriculum, but they are quite different (and don't necessarily apply to private schools, in either case).

It is confusing if you're not used to it, I guess!
danel4d From: danel4d Date: June 10th, 2010 09:53 am (UTC) (Link)
To a certain extent, I can understand both sides here; NEWTs don't directly correspond to A-levels exactly, but at the same time there's definitely a kind of link there, and people pick up on it as a thing to Brit-pick because it's one of those shibboleths that show to what extent the writer is even thinking about it.

I'd say it's more about the concept behind it than anything else - the British education system, to a certain extent, is geared towards a kind of narrowing of focus at a much earlier point than what I understand of the American one (and if anything, it seems to be intensifying, with the springing up of specialised Academies as a replacement/counterpart for the Secondary system, so that from eleven they'd be expected to have chosen a general area to focus on). AT GCSEs/OWLs, there's a pool of compulsory subjects plus a number of optional ones; A-levels are entirely chosen, after a nice little careers interview just like NEWTs (though sadly not quite as awesome), based upon the student's strengths/plans for the rest of their life/what they want to study at university.

It's that concept of choosing a focus rather than taking a general mass of subjects that the important concept, I think.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 10th, 2010 02:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
the British education system, to a certain extent, is geared towards a kind of narrowing of focus at a much earlier point than what I understand of the American one

I think in the case I'm writing at the moment, that's not at issue--Teddy needs to have solid grounding in several academic subjects for work as an Unspeakable, which he did narrow down to.

But yes, of course Americans are horrified at asking children to limit their horizons too early. There's not an American education system, per se, but I think that would be a fairly universal sentiment of schooling--that everyone has the right to everything he or she can fit into a class schedule, as long as any pre-reqs have been met. Despite some very vocal proponents of a more vocational approach, a liberal education remains the ideal.
From: severely_lupine Date: June 10th, 2010 01:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't think it's at all fair to Brit-pick over something like that, when there's already so many differences between Hogwarts and the typical British school system. Considering how many classes Hermione was in, I don't think one could say that no one would ever take seven NEWTs. I'm American, so I don't know much about how the Brits do it, but if you look at a typical American high school senior, they can easily be taking seven or eight classes at a time. If one supposes that each of these is capped with a comprehensive exam, that doesn't seem all that much different than what we're talking about at Hogwarts, except that maybe the exam is more difficult because they don't have wizarding universities, and students are given a NEWT for each individual one they pass, rather than it all going together for a diploma. Yeah, I don't agree at all that this is a legitimate Brit-pick.
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 10th, 2010 05:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
The divide between the Brits and Americans here is oh so very clear.

British secondary school finishes at 16, not 18 like in the USA. This means that once you have passed your GCSEs, your compulsory schooling is over. A-Levels are an advanced specialisation you take if you so wish, aiming for University, other higher learning, or just further yourself.

A usual student will take approximately 10-15 GCSEs, and 3-5 A-Levels.

To use myself as an example, for GCSE, I studied: English Language, English Lit, Maths, Double Science (worth 2 GCSEs), PE, Geography, History, IT, Graphic Design and French.

I took, for A/S Level, the first year of A-Levels: English Lit, Maths, Physics and Chemistry, then dropped English Lit for A2, the second year of A-Level.

For both, the grades are awarded individually, as they are important for university applications, not as a diploma, as in the states.

The specialisation is important, because it brings you up to the standard required for a degree. An average US undergraduate degree will take 4 years, whereas, due to specialising early, they only take 3 in the UK. This includes technical subjects such as Engineering, which I believe is 5 years in the USA.

At the hardest end, for instance to study medicine, or to enter Oxford/Cambridge Universities, you will usually need AAA or AAB as a MINIMUM.

In my mind, they align near perfectly with the GCSE/A-Level split (hence why they have career advice at 16, so they know what NEWTs to pick), excepting that the average student takes 5 subjects, rather than 3-4.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 10th, 2010 07:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Technically, we also end compulsory education at 16--that's when you can drop out legally. It's just not actually the end of anything.
From: tree_and_leaf Date: June 10th, 2010 08:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
British secondary school finishes at 16, not 18 like in the USA. This means that once you have passed your GCSEs, your compulsory schooling is over.

That's only half-true, though. Sure, the earliest you can leave school is 16, but not everywhere sends pupils to specialist sixth-form colleges, even in England, and in Scotland they're virtually unheard of (it is possible to do Highers at college, but that usually implies that there's been some problem - probably disciplinary - at school and it's not a good sign...)
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 10th, 2010 09:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Again Scotland is different, an honours degree at a Scottish university is a 4 year course (whatever qualifications you enter with). I believe quite a few degrees at English universities are 4 years too now but I'm not sure.

Education is one of those areas where things vary across the UK and there is no such thing as the British education system. But many people in the UK don't realise that so it's not surprising from those outside the UK don't know.

Not at all relevant to the debate of course! I suspect JKR didn't think about this so there isn't a right answer as such.
From: severely_lupine Date: June 11th, 2010 01:08 am (UTC) (Link)
That's quite informative, thank you.

I wonder which system works better. On the one hand, all the early specializing would be great for someone who knows what they want to do early on and doesn't change their mind. On the other hand, it seems like it could really put someone off track if they start one course and then decide as they get older that they want to do something completely different. The American system allows students to see many different subjects through reasonably advanced levels before making them decide what they want to focus on. When I was 14 or 15, I would have said I wanted to be an astronomer or some kind of scientist. But then I realized that I'm terrible with math (which hadn't been true at all in lower grades). It wasn't until I was 17 or 18, I think, that I started wanting to be a writer, and now I couldn't imagine focusing on anything else. Not that I'm trying to say the American system is better (our education system certainly could use some improving), but I don't think the early specialization would have been particularly beneficial to me.

(I still think it's not unthinkable for a Hogwarts student to take seven or eight NEWTs, though, if they're particularly smart and motivated.)
miseri From: miseri Date: June 12th, 2010 01:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
Only three A-Levels! Are they counting the General Paper among them? I didn't take my A-Levels, having moved to a different system after only three months, but as I recall our classes were organised according to which "4" A-Level courses we were doing, even though the addition of GP and a second language would bring the total number of exams we'd have to 6.
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