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

Charming - the school feel the effect on the student's confidence is the risk. If they put their high achievers in - like dd - and they get Bs instead of A*/A. Dd was very robust and said she would be fine in that case but actually I think school are right about that. It would be gutting. Early entry is only helpful for that type of student if they think they will actually get close to their best grade. If they doubt that - and they do - then they're better off waiting for June.

I don't think OFQUAL is as independant as it should be.

Fishlegs Thu 17-Oct-13 08:49:30

The problem with Gove is that he seems to think the rules of democracy don't apply to him. He's on a mad crusade and fails to accept that anyone else should have a say.

My friend was shopping in London recently (she's a teacher) and actually saw Gove, marched up to him and, ahem, challenged what he's doing to the education system. He looked at her and said "You're a brave woman" and stalked off. Why is he unable to debate any of this on any level? Why does he feel as though he isn't answerable to teachers, parents and pupils?

bigTillyMint Thu 17-Oct-13 08:50:05

I agree, Northern - DD would be devastated to not get her best possible grade - you have to be very resilient to cope.

bigTillyMint Thu 17-Oct-13 08:50:53

Fishlegs, good on your friend. What a twat.

bruffin England Thu 17-Oct-13 09:02:35

Wy are you blaming Goive when it ws your schoop that was playing games with your child, entering them early for exams.
Dcs school never played games like this and their results are fine. FWIW I do have a child who is in yr 11 and has got an A* in the speaking and listening part and will be affected by the changes, but the

Piggychunk Thu 17-Oct-13 09:10:11

We are in the same mess DD due to take Maths and English early in Nov has now been advised this wont happen .. I am angry with the school for choosing the school of the kids but even more angry with Gove. This really isn't helping with the already stressed Yr 11 I have at home

Piggychunk Thu 17-Oct-13 09:11:01

* over the kids

bruffin England Thu 17-Oct-13 09:19:25

Its your schools' fault that they misused the system not anyone elses. DCS' school didnt and therefore my dd is not stressed about having her exams moved. I also have a DS in yr 13 who is affected to a certain extent.
I knew it was wrong when my DS was looking at schools for yr 7 and one of the schools was boasting that it entered their children early for maths and i have seen the results in other schools. The early entry is purely for the benefit of the school and not the child.

Charmingbaker Thu 17-Oct-13 09:22:39

Bruffin, the schools haven't being playing games, they have been following the rules. The reason people are blaming Gove us that he has changed the rule after the match has started. Why didn't he make this announcement before the academic year started, that would have been fair, to do it when children are already preparing for the exams and schools have to make quick decisions is not fair
on schools and not fair on our children.

bruffin England Thu 17-Oct-13 09:29:54

They were playing games with your children to benefit their league table results. I have seen it in friends schools. As i said my dcs ordinary comp did not see the need to constantly enter children early which is added stress in itself and they now do not have overly stressed children.
It may not be against the rules, but it is morally wrong in the first place. You should have been complaining to the school a long time ago, not now the door has been shut.

Bruffin absolute rubbish. It is in some ways irrelevant whether you agree with the changes or not. There are many, many teachers and schools would actually are happy with a linear system for exams. The problem is that you have a system in place and say these are the rules. Schools and students have to play by the rules, because ultimately school's fates are decided by league tables. So working within the rules and the systems (that we have no control over) we do the best that we can for all of our students and for our school as a whole. Then to constantly change the rules and goalposts over half way through courses and with 24 hours notice is completely ridiculous. None of the changes are being made based on educational research or evidence. They are mostly being made at the whim of one man, Gove.

Schools are trying to make the best decisions for their students, so that they achieve the best results they can. We tell the students what the plan is, what they need to do to achieve a grade C, or an A or whatever and then we guide, teach and support them as best we can to get them there. AS someone said upthread, we feel that we can no longer accurately predict results, despite having accurately predicted them for years. How can it be the schools fault that what was a grade C standard two years ago is now now longer a grade C? In fact what was a grade C standard last September is probably no longer a grade C.

As a teacher, I am very happy for them to overhaul the system if that is what evidence and research suggests is best (although a fairly recent review said only tweaks were needed and nothing more). It needs to be changed in advance of a course starting, not in the middle and time needs to be given to teachers and schools to then implement the changes. I am pleased that Oxford have come out and made a stand against the changes as many of them have been made under the guise that this is what russell group unis want which again appears completely made up.

Charmingbaker Thu 17-Oct-13 09:43:51

It is morally wrong to use children in an ideological crusade. The National Association of Head Techers stated he is creating a climate of bullying, intimidation and fear and he appears to be doing his best to live up to this.

bruffin England Thu 17-Oct-13 09:48:43

Russell group said years ago they wanted exams taken in one sitting, it was in their guide to subjects to take. A uni is going to look at results and see one child that got a string of good results in one sitting, then compare it to a child that got an A* when they dont have to concentrate on other exams at the same time. I know which child i would take.
I am sitting here with a child in year 11 who is not being badly affected, thats because the school knew that it was best for the children not to mess around with their exams.

Charmingbaker Thu 17-Oct-13 09:58:21

Bruffin- the issue here isn't wether or not we should have early entry or not ( for what it's worth I have never been in favour of early entry). It is how late Gove made the decision that is the issue and is at the root of the current stress. This announcement should have been made before autumn term started, that would have been fair and professional. Announcing it when Gove did is playing games and underhand.

bruffin England Thu 17-Oct-13 10:01:55

It is the issue. The children that are affected are the ones whose schools chose to enter them early, whjich was never ever in the best interest of the children.

Charmingbaker Thu 17-Oct-13 10:13:07

Bruffin- it is liking talking to Gove himself. Why did Gove choose to announce this mid term? Surely it would have been in the nest interest of children to announce it a month earlier. Forget about the rights and wrongs of schools choosing early entry or not. Gove was not thinking of the children when he announced this.

bruffin England Thu 17-Oct-13 10:36:20

FWIW early entry hasn't been banned, its the fact that the schools cannot use the retakes for league tables. OPs school has made the decision based on their league tables not what is best for OPs DD.

Bruffin have you read this?

How exactly do you know entering students early 'was never in the best interest of children?'. Why do you think schools spent lots of money on entering more than once exactly?

At some schools top sets in maths for example sat their GCSE at the end of year 10, or november of year 11. Not with a view to entering it again, but because they could then start on doing some further maths either an iGCSE in further maths, an AS module perhaps or whatever it may be. This allowed them to get ahead with their A-level modules, allowing more students to attempt further maths or AS further maths in the timetable limitations. Other schools enter lower ability students early, because in all honesty until they sit an exam and understand what it is like, some of them don't understand what they need to do or how important it is and it massively motivates them to work harder and gives them confidence and motivation to achieve their potential in the summer for example.

As others have said though, the issue of whether early entry or not is, in your opinion, a good idea or not is irrelevant. Changing the rules so close to the end of a GCSE course for students is not fair on them and it most certainly is not in their best interests to have the goalposts changed every 5 minutes either.

Bruffin FWIW you can no longer enter in November for the first time, only for a retake, from November 2014. This was announced in April and is a change to the current system. Therefore you can only now enter at the end of each year for the first time so either Year 10 or Year 11, and you can only use the November sitting as a retake sitting. For future students I would say this constitutes banning early entry in many cases.

Shame the DfE have not managed to keep up to date with Gove's meddling either...

"Will re-sits be reported in the school performance tables?

Yes - the best grade achieved up to the end of Year 11 will still count.

For the 2014 performance tables - published in January 2015 - it will not matter when the best GCSE result was achieved or whether the exams were taken at the end of each unit or at the end of the course. However, re-sits taken after the pupil has completed Year 11 do not count for the performance tables."

Quoted from here

bruffin England Thu 17-Oct-13 11:20:22

MrsHerculepoiret that doesnt affect OPs daughter and her position now.#

Entering early is not in the interest of the child because if they are A*/A students then they are looking for higher universities who like to see exams taken in one sitting, not scattered all over the place. That has been in the RG guide for many years.

If they are not A/A* students then they are disadvantaged at entering early, because it may just be lack of maturity. I have a friend who is spitting feathers because they enter some for gcses in year 9 and settle for a C or a B rather than waiting until they are old and therefore more mature and could have got better grades.
I have an 18 year old at A2 level and although he has always been mature for his age he has changed considerably since this time last year.

Neither does whether anyone agrees or disagrees with early entry. Irrespective of anyone's views on early entry, this u-turn in the middle of a course, is what is negatively affecting students, OPs daughter being one of them. Why did they not announce this in the summer, before the term had started, before decisions were being made by schools? Why announce it randomly on a Sunday in the papers rather than after discussion and coming from the DfE?

FWIW we enter some students early in Year 11 because they are students that are unlikely to make it through the whole of the year group for whatever reason. If we can keep them in school and engaged until November they have a chance of achieving a grade C which in their future will help them. If we hadn't done this last year, we would have had many less students 'passing' because they did not complete Year 11 for various reasons. I am not talking whole cohorts, but individual students in very difficult circumstances. I am sure there are schools that make bad decisions, but there are also very many schools that take each student individually and try and work out what the best thing we can do for them, under the current rules is to ensure they leave with the best possible grades they can get. Simplifying it to say it is a 'lack of maturity' is trivialising the very many issues surrounding these students and their difficult lives outside of school, many of them have had no choice but to mature beyond their years and their inability to attend school regularly is not of their choosing. Sweeping statements about what is and isn't right about A/A* students and 'others' is naive in my opinion.

Lord, Bruffin, your compassion for me and other parents in this situation overwhelms me. hmm
Dh spoke directly to dd's teachers and the head. We are absolutely confident they were prepared to set everything aside and still enter the students except that they no longer trust the grade boundaries. That is directly the responsibility of Gove. All things being equal early entry would have been in dd's interests because she could have achieved an excellent grade in November and then concentrated on her other exams in June.

tiffinboys Thu 17-Oct-13 12:32:11

So, charmingbaker, are you saying that essentially the decision to sit for exam in November of June is being taken by Schools; not Gove as the headline suggested?

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