Bloody Gove! Dd in state of total discombobulation re early entry GCSEs - please help me get my head round this in practical manner!

(132 Posts)

Because what I want to do is get a train to London, doorstep the git Gove and give him an earful.

So- dd1 attends a comprehensive school. Pretty good school tbh with conscientous and committed staff. She is doing 11 GCSEs:

Maths
Eng Lan
Eng Lit
History
French
German
Art
Textiles
Triple science

They also completed the RS short course whatsit last year. She got an A*. Her targets for all of the above are A* except for art where it's an A.
She's so far done some controlled assessments for English and also speaking and listening and achieved well in these. The school's plan has always been to enter all the cohort this November with retakes in June if needed. Dd1 has worked hard all term (plenty of stress on her and me both) with November in mind. They did a mock just two weeks ago. Last week we got a letter telling us about a meeting tonight, called due to the school's uncertainty of how to proceed in the light of the recent announcements re early entry. Upshot is they won't be entering any student in November. It's quite clear from the meeting that dh went to taht it isn't the school's league table performance that is their concern. They have some very able students who should achieve well above a C but they basically dare not risk putting them in because every sign they can see suggests that there will be further interference with grade boundaries. We are horrified by this but I totally take their point. In May their speaking and listening was scrutinised and the moderation moderated or whatnot. It was rated excellent. Yesterday they got a letter saying it would be reviewed. There's no way to see that other than as a threat to discourage early entry.

Dd1 is devastated by this. She's working well and was winding herself up (in every sense) to take the blooming exams next month, get A/A* and if she did that then it was done. Finished. Allowing her more time to stress about the others in June. Now that 'second chance' option has been taken away and she'll lose the speaking and listening marks already done.
School are also talking about doing Further Maths or similar because that's what the plan for the top set was anyway. I do NOT want her doing MORE bloody summer exams.

So my questions wise mumsnetters are:

1) What would you do in this scenario. Dh and I think we have to accept the school's decision. Are we right to think that?

2) How do you reglue a totally unglued 15yr old who likes structure and order and is struggling to accept that grade boundaries can be mucked around with and no it isn't fair (anybody giving me an answer that works on this one can pretty much name their price)

3) Should I resist any attempt to enter her for further qualifications?

4) has anybody else come across this scenario and what is your school doing?

Poor dd, 4 boubon biscuits and some popcorn have just disappeared in to the living room where she's trying to watch the Big Bang Theory wrapped in a blanket but she's still stifling sobs. sad

PurpleGirly Tue 15-Oct-13 21:51:56

Sadly this is happening in many schools due to the constant meddling by Mr Gove et al. The speaking and listening marks do not count in the May/June exam next year, which is disgusting for kids who worked really hard for these.

I feel so sorry for these kids who are being told that their exams are easy and worthless, they do not work hard etc. As an English teacher I see how hard these kids work for an exam that is just as difficult as the one I did as an O Level many years ago (although the exam then was 100% before someone comments).

Grade boundaries have been messed around with for two or three years now - I used to be able to roughly predict a grade but not anymore.

All I can suggest is you keep telling your daughter that six months of extra work will mean sixth months more maturity in writing and more likely to get a higher grade. I know she must be devastated and my heart goes out to her and all the kids being messed around.

Fwiw my school are still entering in November, but we are in the minority. Our head is going to say to prospective parents that our pupils are more important than league tables - but of course most parents won't listen to that, being obsessed with percentages.

Just keep on the Bourbon biscuits and tell her she is one of many but needs to prove to Mr Gove that she is brilliant x

Thank you smile

'I used to be able to roughly predict a grade but not anymore' - that's just terifying isn't it?

Thinking about making an appointment at our MP's next surgery and taking her along to give her views to him. Would at least allow her to vent.

Ok well she seems to be doing much better today. Lot of solidarity from the school and the staff - their English teacher gave them all chocolate!
So that's a relief. Would still be interested to hear any other views.

Charmingbaker Wed 16-Oct-13 20:04:42

I'll join you on his doorstep. I can't believe he landed this on school on 30th September.
My DS is in Y11 and has been completely stressed out by this and talking to other parents their children are as well. His school gave the chdren 4 days notice of a mock. School haven't yet announced what they plan to do but current rumour is only strong candidates who achieved an A or weaker students who achieved a C will be put through. My DS is predicted A/A* and was a few marks off an A so doesn't think he'll get to take it. The actual exams are in under 3 weeks! It's the sudden announcement that has caused the panic, the teachers are stressed by this and it's fed down to the children.
I have no issue with the rules being changed, however you can't announce a change like this mid term. It's not fair to spring something like this on the children and schools haven't had time to prepare.

Doinmummy Wed 16-Oct-13 20:10:57

It's so hard for the kids to keep being messed about. They're stressed enough as it is.

I'm so relieved that my DDs head master has more or less said stuff the league tables , the exams will go ahead in November.

I feel for your DD Northern

Dd's school was, I think, tending down the 'stuff it route' but then felt there was sufficient uncertainty about the grade boundaries to just pull everybody. It's an incredibly hard decision and a decision they should not be making. Gove has to be held to account for this chaos.

nkf Wed 16-Oct-13 20:30:06

I feel for everyone involved especially the kids. Just the kids really. It's not fair.

I do think many schools have been foolish though. Gove has said over and over again that he doesn't like early entry. Nobody can say that he isn't clear about what he wants. It was obvious (to me at any rate) that it was going to be pulled. But schools carried on with their early entry system. I bet he saw the numbers being entered and thought, "Enough!"

Dd1 was told back in Year 9 they would be entered in November 2013. I don't think Gove's thinking was that clear then and even when it became more so the idea that you would interfere (because that is what's happening) with a year group weeks away from the exam was not something anybody expected.

cricketballs Wed 16-Oct-13 21:25:36

All I can say is that parents need to make their views clear to Gove - he won't listen to teachers as he thinks we are just moaning and avoiding changes

Charmingbaker Wed 16-Oct-13 22:28:45

It was clear that Gove was going to try and stop schools being able to enter exams multiple times at some point, but to make the announcement a few weeks before the November exams is ridiculous, it's like changing the rules whilst the game is being played. He has shown he is intent on pushing his reforms through with no care to making the transition a smooth one for the pupils.
Cricketballs - It not just teachers Gove won't listen to, it's anyone who doesn't agree with his own agenda. As for the people he does listen too, one of his advisors has stated that a child's ability is 70% genetic so why are we throwing money at underachieving pupils.

greenfolder Wed 16-Oct-13 22:32:06

i tell you what pisses me right off- my dds comp enters all of those doing the foundation papers for November because there is a proven correlation between doing this and them getting a c- either in November OR in June. the practical experience of doing the exam is critical in overall success. my dd has been working hard- she is dyslexic with very little working memory because this is the plan.

told today plan is out the window- she will have one go at in June. I know, because i have taught in them that she will have little chance to retake if she goes to college in Sept- she will be told to do a crappy adult literacy and numeracy course instead- which is not the same thing at all.

Oh greenfolder I'm sorry. It's so awful isn't it? When you've seen them work so hard sad

NoComet Wed 16-Oct-13 22:40:52

Anymore room in your train carriage, my Dyslexic DS1 needs a B for English for sixth form. She is, of course good at speaking and listening.

She works fantastically hard, and doesn't deserve Gove using her as a pawn to make exams look "rigerous" or whatever headline he wants today.

ravenAK Wed 16-Oct-13 22:45:31

Can only echo opinions upthread - in fact I wondered for a second if OP's dd was one of our students, as this is exactly how we've decided to proceed - pulling entire cohort out of November exam.

Every indication is that November entries will be punished hard.

I thought I was angry on my students' behalf in summer 2012, until I saw the way the boundaries were further buggered with last summer. Now this.

'I used to be able to roughly predict a grade but not anymore'

Exactly. It's a disgrace.

'Every indication is that November entries will be punished hard'

This just makes me feel sick. Dd pushes herself so hard. She wants the A*s she was predicted last year. She is so, so bright, she deserves those grades and she will feel a failure if she gets less, though she knows that is NOT how her dad and I will feel. Ger future should be in her own hands , to work to the best of her ability but it isn't. My child is a political pawn. I feel so angry.

Talkinpeace Wed 16-Oct-13 23:19:17

DD is a straight A exam bunny and she and her friends are incandescent at the way they are being messed around and penalised for something they had nothing to do with.
How do I get her to relax and get on with her work when people have been told that work they have done is worthless and work they are trying to do may get judged retrospectively to rules they are not being told about.

Gove is a dangerous nutter who should be put in charge of South Georgia.

Same here, our school not sure what to do either I think. We phoned the dfe the Monday morning after it was announced in the papers on the Sunday. They knew nothing about it until that day. Messing about with children's grades and futures, and yet many people think that us as teachers are just whinging. I feel so sorry for so many of our students and so angry on their behalf, yet it feels like there is nothing we can do to fix things.

'How do I get her to relax and get on with her work '

Buggered if I know. I think I'm going to need to take her away for a couple of days by herself when she's finished the damn things next summer. SHe'll need a break!

nkf Thu 17-Oct-13 07:22:40

The school could still put them in for the November exam. If they think it benefits the students that's what they should do.

Charmingbaker Thu 17-Oct-13 07:33:45

One of the worst things is it is causing the children to question the value of their GCSEs. My DS has already asked me if his GCSEs will be pointless in a few years because he did them when they were 'easy'. His revision for his first GCSE has gone to pieces because he still doesn't know if he'll be taking it, it hardly instills confidence in him for his summer revision. Mr Gove had created an atmosphere of uncertainty where he os constantly undermining the quality of the teaching the children are receiving and the value of the exams they are taking. Imagine if our teachers and heads ran there classes / schools this way!

northen she has your support and love and that will make a massive difference to her I promise. It might still be stressful for her but having someone there to hug her will make a world of difference!

Thanks. Lots of hugging going on!

nkf - if the school thought it would benefit them then yes they would put them in. What's swayed them against it is the fear that grade boundaries are going to be manipulated. The letter we had yesterday from the Head says they think June entry is now the 'safest' option. I'm still stunned they have to talk in those terms.

bigTillyMint Thu 17-Oct-13 08:05:01

It is so crap, isn't it. I really feel for the Y11's - my DD is in Y10 and is in a state of confusion and anxiety, as I imagine the teachers are - not knowing which route would be best.
sadangry

Charmingbaker Thu 17-Oct-13 08:22:57

June may be the 'safest' option for the schools, but not for the children. If the grade boundaries were to manipulated (and Ofqual who set boundaries are supposed to be independent) and a child did not get the grade they were predicted/ needed then they could simply do the exam again in the summer. Children can use either grade, the school can only use the first sitting. Schools who wait are not doing it in individual children's favour, they are doing it for their value added scores and their league tables. If you were a head in a school that could be visited by ofsted in the next 2 years I can see why you would be reluctant to 'risk' early entry.

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