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:
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.
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
'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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
The school could still put them in for the November exam. If they think it benefits the students that's what they should do.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
I agree, Northern - DD would be devastated to not get her best possible grade - you have to be very resilient to cope.
Fishlegs, good on your friend. What a twat.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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?
November or June........ ah my typos.
DCs school does not do early entry. November or June is one issue.
The far worse issue is the retrospective changes to the English Exam.
The school did prepare year 11 pupils for the speaking and listening test - as per the curriculum when they started their GCSE studies.
They were half way through a double lesson on that very subject when they were told that all of their work was a waste of time
(press release by the DFE not filtered to teachers in advance)
Please explain to me how that is good for education?
DD came home nearly in tears for friends whose chances of a C have been destroyed more than half way through their studies.
How is that good for the UKs chances in OECD and PISA tests ?
'The far worse issue is the retrospective changes to the English Exam'
Good point. Selfishly this has assumed slightly less importance to me because although dd had excellent marks that she now loses, she has the ability to still do well on the written papers (I hope!) However for other pupils this is a major headache and utterly unfair. English is a spoken language. Communicating and understanding effectively is about more than reading and writing.
What I don't understand is:
Sitting exams early, was for the ones who were going to get A's, right? So the OP DD and others will still probably get A's anyway, they just have to sit them a bit later?
Why the tears and hysteria? Genuine question, btw. I don't understand.
Was the idea, until now, for the "bright" kids to sit some exams early, so they could then focus on their other GCSE's afterwards? Whilst other kids have to sit all the exams in one go and don't have this luxury? Isn't that giving an advantage to the already advantaged?
If your daughter would have gotten an A* in November, she'll do just as well or better in June, won't she?
Agree Gove should not change rules mid year, it is unsettling, but surely not a great tragedy...? (not being deliberately obtuse, but an immigrant trying to make sense of the UK education system)
My daughter will get her A*
Having been at the parents evening at Peter Symonds last night there were parents really worried about getting across the C/D boundary for the oh so critical English exam.
FFS they have less than two terms of teaching left and now that shithead Gove changes the rules on them.
How very dare he.
Change it for the current year 9 and 10 maybe, but NOT the current year 11.
Talkin, how were their chances of a C destroyed ? (feeling panicky now for my DS!) Help, I don't understand.
Regarding removing speaking and listening from the Eng Lang final grade, children at independent schools doing the Edexcel IGCSE in Eng Lang will still be able to include the speaking and listening in their final grade. Seems a tad unfair on state schools who can't do that particular exam.
some DC in lower sets would have got higher marks in the Speaking and Listening CAs which would compensate for lower marks in the (generally harder for these DCs) other parts. So if the Speaking no longer counts towards the grade, they're relying on getting the C from the parts of the exam they're less likely to do well in.
The kids have done more than half of the course. They worked all last year practicing for a specific paper. For some of them that paper is the most important. NOW they are told that all that work was worthless and will not be counted, even though it was on the curriculum when they started the course.
Think of a maths test where you are told to learn all of the times tables to 14 . Then when you have nearly finished your studies, they decide you only needed to learn the odd number tables. How would you feel?
Angry sitting exams early can be for all sorts of reasons - some good and some not so good depending on opinion. At my last high achieving school we entered top sets early to get one GCSE out of the way, and to allow them to further study Maths to a higher level in one format or another. At my current, much lower achieving school, we enter some students in November of Year 11 (see my posts earlier) because we know they may otherwise not make it until the end of the year in school. If we can get them the C grade in November, whatever happens to them outside of school, they will always have this to fall back on in the future. If we don't, we know from past experience they don't make it through year 11 and fail to achieve anything at all at GCSE.
Imagine you have been preparing for a really important exam for the last 15 months, you are approx 6 weeks away from sitting that exam, your revision is really getting going, you are really starting to feel confident. You have mapped out your study sessions, you know that once this is out of the way you have more time to concentrate on your other exams that are taking place later. Then all of a sudden that changes overnight and your teachers are in a situation where they have no idea what the best thing to do is to best support you achieve your potential. Schools want to do what is best for their pupils, but it is difficult to make those decisions when rules keep changing with no warning. With everyone being told how hard it is to get a job, how important qualifications are if you want to earn enough to even consider buying a property in the future, the pressure on the GCSE students today is phenomenal. It is horribly unsettling for them. I would hope that OP's daughter will still go on to achieve outstanding exam results that she deserves, but it is still difficult to have everything keep changing every 5 minutes so you don't know what you need to do exactly to get there.
It also gives the kids the sense that 'those in power' can do what they want, when they want with no recourse.
It's funny that 20 odd years ago when I was at school it was only the private and grammar schools that let children sit exams early. Several of my cousins and friends took maths and some other exams early, it was felt it would help them achieve top grades in all subjects and they all went off to todays Russell Group Unis. Was never seen as a problem then.
Talkin, to be honest, knowing all the times tables would still be better than knowing only the odd ones, even if the "even" ones are never tested, would be my opinion.
Nothing you learn is ever "wasted" especially not when it comes to ENglish and Maths.
Should our kids be taught to the test only? How limiting.
MrsHerculePoirot, I think i get it. But still, anyone who can get an A in November should get a similar grade or better in JUne, no?
There seems to be an insane amount of pressure on GCSE students.
has it always been like this?
Amongst the many very well made points, there is another one to consider. Children who have been busy revising full pelt for exams in November to have them then withdrawn have missed out on time when they could have been covering new and interesting material that would have increased their depth of understanding. Instead these past two months have been wasted. They will still have to revise for June.
What I don't understand from Bruffin's posts is how is it remotely fair to hold back a highly intelligent child for 12 months when they are capable of passing exams "early".
Dds school don't believe in early entry for things like maths and English. Instead they teach beyond the exam, so able children aren't held back but still get the optimum results they can.
NOw kitten, that sounds a good idea
So why don't they let them take the exam early and let them still AS?
Why make them waste a year doing something that they are already capable of doing?
My school could not let them start on the AS because it - and almost every other one in Hampshire - does not have a 6th form.
DD could have got an A about a year ago. By stretching herself and reading more and reading around she will get an A* rock solid.
but she is facing around 30 exams in the season next June ....
You don't need a 6th form to teach AS, you just need teachers that are able to teach the syllabus.
Boney and Northernlurker
Russell Group Informed choices guide.
It says under the pre 16 qualifications requirements page 21
"A number of institutions ask that grades and number of subjects are achieved at one sitting" So taking an english exam early is doing that child a diservice and could be harming their future.
This is to prove the dc can handle the work load of a number of exams together. It is far easier to get an A/A* if you only have to take one or two exams at a time, compared to others taking the normal amount.
So taking English and maths early, then taking 9 or 10 exams the next year is bad?
How many exams must a child take to prove that they are "worthy" of a place at a RG uni?
No, it wasn't always like this.
I have 8 straight A, O levels got without a huge amount of work and minimum panic.
And, coincidently, the only minor panic was caused by Geography course work.
Now days it just seems so ridiculously complicated. CAs, modules, exams in year 10.
Real GCSE papers at the same time as important mocks. Music and Drama final performances all over the place and that's before they move. Random rehearsals for these after school, which we simply couldn't have got home from.
Dates for English and science CAs have also moved with no warning.
It's chaos, but mostly just about organised chaos.
If no one touches anything it just about works and the teachers and DCs stay one step away from saying fuck it!
Gove's meddling is getting very close to some of the teachers, brightest and most borderline DCs actually crossing that line and saying fuck it through stress and feeling totally disrespected.
DD1 is lucky, she has dyslexia 25% extra time next to her name on the class list. If she misses her B due to Goves tinkering she may be able to bargain with sixth form.
She's very bright, she's very enthusiastic, if she gets an interview I think she'll be OK.
Many C/D boundary pupils and those who believe an A* is the only grade worth having will fair far worse.
Angry I don't think the pressure has been as bad as it is right now. I think it got worse last year with the sudden, unexpected shift in grade boundaries and now the continuing unknown of what grade a piece of work is does not help. I would like to think that a student who was capable of achieving an A now should acheive that or better, but experience the year before last shows us that may not be true. Students who had work graded as a grade C in January, would have had exactly the same work graded as a D in June - so actually I no longer would say they will definitely get an A or more these days.
Bruffin from what I am aware that mostly means they don't want them to resit, they want the grades from one sitting of the GCSEs. The next sentence in bold starts "Some do not accept re-sits at GCSE...". This is because they want to discourage students sitting early, with a plan to resit to improve.
Some RG unis do have a stipulation at A-level that they must sit three at the end of the two years rather than do those early, but if a student does one or two GCSEs early and then does not retake them and sits the rest of them at the end of year 11 this has not yet appeared to disadvantage any of them.
It could possibly be interpreted the way you are saying, but I have yet to see any university requirement that says ALL GCSEs must be sat at the end of Year 11 or else they won't get in...
Why take that many exams in the first place, its a ridiculous and no where is there requirements for that number of GCSEs. It unecessarily stressful.
As i said DCS school do not do any early entries and dont timetable that many gcses. They allow top sets to do an extra gcse/btech as a twilight, but they tend to be art based or drama or a full RE instead of half. They regularly get dc into top universities including Oxbridge.
Bruffin, o sensible one (no sarcasm!!!)
What do you think is a reasonable number of GCSE's? I would like DS to do A-levels, but I am not looking for unnecessary stress as he responds badly to too much pressure.
I want him to be happy, but have results to get him to the next level. What is required these days?
He is average but good at maths and science. Don't want to do 11 GCSE if not necessary nor do I want string of A* at all cost, if A's, B's and C's get him there too.
(he gets migraines and copes badly with stress)
I am not even sure if average means he may actually be heading for D's and C's only?! Just don't have a clue, not been here long enough.
I can't get my head around it!
Bruffin is your argument that pupils are taking exams early or that they are taking too many?
bruffin it is my dearest wish that the DC's school stick to a reasonable number of GCSE's and no early entries unless it is definitely in the childs favour. Unfortunately, it is not up to me, or any other parents.
I don't see why the fuss tbh.
This new policy is long overdue imo.
It's there to stop schools re-entering pupils for the exams and giving the wrong impression in the league tables- exams taken and re-taken in order to achieve the magic C for English and Maths.
I cannot see why any child should be devastated by this change unless they are seriously wound-up over exams in the first place- back in my day at school you did 11 O levels, did each once and if you failed you did a retake in the November.
We all survived.
And another point is- if these pupils can only be certain of getting an A or a C, or whatever, if they take their exams at a certain time when they feel 'ready' what does that say about their ability?
If they are competent the timing of the exam should not matter.
What used to happen was that some bright pupils took a GCSE a year early to get it out of the way- then they could focus on the rest. Now, pupils are entered early to give them a double or even triple chance by re-taking it - is that any fairer?
Sorry OP but I think you have lost your perspective on this.
The fuss is because they've changed the goalposts just a few weeks before the exams. I know kids who found out this week whether or not the exams they are studying hard for will actually happen in 3 weeks time. That's just crap.
So are they going to forget how to pass an exam if they have to wait until June? If their ability to pass the exam is so fragile then their competence is in question surely?
missbopeep perhaps read back through the whole thread. Your questions have been answered many times over already.
missbopeep do you have a teen in Y10 or 11?
Sometimes they are very fragile. This is what we are concerned about - how making changes at such a late date can tip them over the edge.
If their ability to pass the exam is so fragile then their competence is in question surely?
How utterly and incredibly rude about kids who may be under pressure to get top grades
and under pressure to pass at all for the lower abilities
Best course of action: write to press/MP/Gove and tell them how much they are messing around with hardworking, diligent, ambitious 15 year olds.
The teachers are on strike today for pretty much that reason - plenty of press coverage there
Gove ignores everybody
What would an MP do ?
Early entry hasn't been banned. They now.look less appealing to schools who.might end up judged on lower grades.
nkf read my earlier post. First time entry in November has been banned from 2014. It will only be a resit session. You can only enter for the first time in the summer exam series eg at the end of year 10 or year 11. So not 'banned' entirely, but many, many schools entered in November for whatever reason and as of next year they won't be allowed to. The rumours are that anyone that enters this November is going to get shafted with grade boundaries being extremely harsh - of course no-one knows this, but that is the word in schools.
I really think people should write to Gove and copy to their local MPs. The more people that write the better. They have to respond to your letter/email (doesn't mean they will change anything but they will guage the strength of feeling).
Missbopeep I found your posts rather rude too tbh. Perhaps you would do me the courtesy of rembering that you are talking, at least in part, directly to me about my daughter? She has worked very hard, is bright, articulate and all round bloody delightful and she does not deserve the uncertainty and stress that she and her friends have been subject to this week. Nor for that matter do dh and I.
This is a talk forum and of course people may respond as they wish to posts but I would have thought it was clear from my OP that attacking my child and the other children involved for a 'lack of competence' is, to say the least, unhelpful. She was ready for the exam next month, she'll be ready in June. She just shouldn't have had this upheaval now.
Bruffin - I cannot change the number of exams dd is taking nor pick another school. I would need the power to tell the future as well as time travel to make 'better' choices.
I am in favour of the changes that Gove et al are making. I feel that children constantly doing exams robs them of childhood and makes teachers teach to the test. A school near me enters ALL the children early for exams regardelss of ablity and I feel that this is throughly silly. I would rather my son got an A at the end of year 11 than a C in year 10. I do not every holiday being wrecked by having to do revision.
However its unfair to inflict changes on the present year 10/11 cohort. Teachers and schools need warning about policies being implemented.
I don't believe that doing ten GCSEs at once in year 11 harms children. A the age of 16 children's thinking skills have had time to mature and many GCSE subjects have an overlap. For example improved skills in English help a child sitting GCSE history as they can write their answers in better English.
I am in favour of the changes that Gove et al are making
However its unfair to inflict changes on the present year 10/11 cohort
But every one of his changes has been retrospective (Ebacc) or impacts on the current cohort (modules, retakes, grade boundaries, exam content)
THAT is why Gove is a fuckwit
He does not have an idea and say
"great, that will apply from the coming September"
"yeah, screw up the prole kids: retrospective changes"
and the fallout from the Faith Free School is probably why he's skipped the country at the moment
I am afraid I have not read the whole post. I totally sympathise with the OP and am heartened by the comments I have read. Schools are in a no win situation, and they appreciate the support from parents.
Many schools decided the November entry would be best for students because of the speaking and listening grades still counting. A couple of weeks ago the rules were changed, so that only the first entry counted for the league tables. Some schools withdrew; others stuck with the decision.
My school has worked really hard to ensure the students are ready for the exam, but we are really uncertain about grade boundaries. We are all being put in an impossible position, which does not have the students' best interests at heart. So OP, trust your DD's school, which has reached a decision in very difficult circumstances.
I think early entry should only be available to students who are virtually guaranteed an A* and for whom there is no point continuing at GCSE level.
They need to move on.
I think early entry for other students is utterly cynical. It turns years 9/10/11 into a treadmill of finish the syllabus/revise/exam...revise/exam...revise/exam. Absolutely horrible for pupils and the very antithisis of what an education should be about!
Or, it can be a case of get it done early and being satisfied with the grade achieved. Why? Because as long as it's a C, the schools figures are dandy!
That said, I think it is diabolical that Gove has brought in measures to deal with this for current students!!!
Anyone who is in the throes of this system should be allowed to finish it on the sma epremise they started it. It is utterly unfair otherwise.
That said, for schools who are sooooooo adamantthat early enrty is for benefit of its students (and not league tables)...why not plough ahead with early entry?
Gove isn't actaully stopping anyone.
My school have only ever used early entry for pupils who were unlikely to make it to the end if year 11. About 10-15 students who for a variety of reasons are at risk of leaving with nothing.
This year we are considering entering the whole cohort so that their speaking and listening can still count. It won count after the November exam. Otherwise they lose 20%. Which for some kids is important and could make the difference of the much needed C grade for college courses.
Head teachers might sometimes play the system, but the teachers are working so hard. Our English dept are knackered, working all hours etc.
Whose fault is it that Heads are worried about league tables? Results are how we are judged.
schrodinger I don't blame teachers in the least!
The whole horrid system is not of their making!
I'm sure for someone whose first love is English, the endless merrigoround that is controlled assessments, revising, exams, revising, resits must be soul destroying!
There can never be a term when they just breath and teach!
After the changes to the modular/linear aspect of GCSEs I had a parents eveing at my DD's school, and I asked several teachers if they were apprehensive about the changes. TBH I thought there woud be some seriosu managing of parental expectation, but to a (wo)man, they all expressed relief and were gald to see the back of modular exams!
THe little ratbag is in Boston spouting tripe ....
Completely embarrassed and ashamed of the spouted tripe of Gove internationally.
HE DOES NOT WANT SOCIAL MOBILITY. HE WANTS STATE SCHOOL KIDS TO FAIL. HE WANTS EXPERIENCED (MORE EXPENSIVE) TEACHERS TO LEAVE THE PROFESSION. HE WANTS THE RICH TO GET RICHER AND YOUR KIDS AND MINE TO FAIL.
Just read his speech - at the end where he compares two airlines, one with trained pilots and one with untrained pilots? Yes Mr Gove, us parents would quite like the trained teachers please, none of this untrained unqualified teachers in academies and free schools business you're so keen on.
Utter, utter bastard he is:
"One of the things I would say to union leaders is: why are you putting the interests of adults ahead of the needs of children?"
Well that's a good question Michael. WHY ARE YOU DOING THAT?
Dd is a lot calmer now and plans to be spending half term on art and textiles coursework rather than revision. I have asked HQ about getting Gove on for a webchat. Dd is working on her question for him. Apparently it involves referencing some remarks he's made previously.....
well, if they do get him for a webchat, I'm booking my year 11s into an IT room when it's on.
They'd like a word.
hmmmmm ... popcorn moment brewing.
I suspect the teachers and our school age children might be "interested" in his responses
I hope he's arrogant enough to come on. I suspect his natural cowardice will triumph though.
Update; letter from dds school-all students being pulled from early entry. As they now only get 1 go, dd is now not doing english lit, which she loves, because she is dyslexic and now must focus all her efforts on english language. She has been told to hand back her texts. So all the work she has done for 3 and a half terms is wasted. Since when was english lit unimportant and now optional. There are no words.
green so sorry for your DD. It is an awful situation.
greenfolder, we've taken the horrible decision to move a borderline C/D set from doing Eng Lang & Lit (2 GCSEs) to English (single GCSE combining Lang & Lit).
Your dd may well be doing the same - it's unlikely she'll be dropping Eng Lit & doing just Eng Lang, as Eng Lang doesn't count towards performance measures without Eng Lit, whereas English does.
I'm having to re-do all their Controlled Assessments with my group. At least one CA - which took half a term to teach & complete - is now entirely redundant. Three others will now be replaced. One entirely new CA task will now need to be completed.
The silver lining, such as it is, is that they now won't be preparing for two tough Eng Lit exams - just the English/Eng Lang exam - which is also exacting, & was planned to be taken in two weeks time before Gove played silly buggers.
Frankly, that's proving extremely cold comfort to my y11s & probably also to your dd...
There are LOTS of words. I'm just trying not to utter them in earshot of my students.
What's being done to our teenagers is cruel & dishonest. Simple as.
Greenfolder and Raven - so sorry about the situation you're both in. Give must be held to account for this.
I sympathise immensely with the children involved and it is not fair to change the rules so close to the finishing line BUT
but I do think parents are really not helping here.
"So all the work she has done for 3 and a half terms is wasted. "
But surely the end goal of going to school is not "to gain a mark" but to learn. Or am I missing something here.
Disclaimer. I am a foreigner. I don't have any kids in education yet in the UK, but I do have experience of studying here at university level (in a brilliant school). I was glad to see that the work was marked but the emphasis was on the learning process. How come it is so different at secondary school level, especially with GCSEs?
bemybebe because much of that time has been learning and practising specific skills in order to jump through controlled assessment and exam hoops. Those hoops have just been removed. Had they not been there from the start then hat time could have been spent learning as you suggest. Sadly there is too little teaching time, to cover ever changing specifications, most teachers would love to instil a love of their subject over teaching to the exam, and much as we try, it is almost impossible not to focus on the specifications. That is how students are measured, how we and our schools are judged. The grade boundaries are being moved, it is harder and harder to achieve grades, and if students don't achieve what they need to, that can affect all their choices post 16, including job possibilities.
What experience do you have of lower ability pupils in non selective state schools?
They are most certainly there to get through the tests and then they escape from education as fast as they can.
They go and cut hair and drive tractors and lay bricks and mend cars.
For which an understanding of the finer points of Charles Dickens is utterly pointless.
MrsHercule sounds like we are on the same wavelength as I am amazed how much time is devoted to exam preparation and not to learning itself.
Talkin No experience whatsoever. But I do not buy "understanding of the finer points of Charles Dickens is utterly pointless". I cannot really go into this debate right now as this topic is vast, but there is certain basic knowledge and skillset that makes one prepared for adult life and everything it throws at this person and proverbial Dickens is very important in this case. Otherwise, why should everyone have a voting right if all they are equipped to do is "cut hair" or "drive tractors"?
I am amazed how much time is devoted to exam preparation and not to learning itself.
There are children who really struggle to grasp basic concepts like times tables.
They are the ones at the opposite tail of the IQ normal distribution curve from the kids at superselectives.
You are insulting them even more by expecting them to faff about with stuff they will never use (like Dickens) and then remove from the qualifications the part they will need while serving you at the department store - Speaking and Listening.
But "Dickens" IS "speaking and listening" at a right level... I did not realise we are speaking about the tails, I thought this is about the vast majority of students who revise for the purpose of the examination only.
My dd is caught up in this too. Only got a B in maths in June so plan was to retake in November and then further maths. She has had to take an extra mock so school can decide whether she gets to enter in november after all. More stress. Actually I'm with Gove on this one and would much prefer that the schools taught the gcse courses over 2 years rather than one. Dd may have followed English lit for A levels but she is not doing lit at all this year as she got an A in the summer...
The C/D boundary kids at single English are the lower 20%
You really need to get a bit more of an understanding of life outside selective education.
Then again so should all politicians.
emphasis was on the learning process This is exactly what a good school teaches, how to learn. I have two older dcs and so the last
7 years have been one long treadmill of constant exams and revision. I would be much happier if a school educated children and put them in for exams at the end (or controlled assessment if more appropriate) But we are caught up in this and whilst I agree with the principle, nothing should be changed without a years notice to the schools and pupils involved.
Talkin I was in a comprehensive. I am a foreigner, we did not have selective schools and because of my schooling I was able to gain BA Economics and studying for MA Art History, not counting the two years in the Medical School, which I abandoned because I decided to not to pursue a medical career (my results were all v good).
Sorry OP, I won't derail further
I have two older dcs and so the last 7 years have been one long treadmill of constant exams and revision
but my private schools had internal summer exams in every subject from the age of 4 to 18 .....
and then I went to University and had exams every six months
and then I trained as an accountant and sat 21 more three hour exams ....
I wasn't talking about internal exams, which I would expect. I did internal exams every summer too. I mean that one or other of our dcs has had an external exam or assessment every summer/ autumn/ and some in spring throughout the last 7 years. The school seems to me to be an exam factory, it has cut almost all extracurricular except music and sport and doesn't even have a lunchtime any more for societies. It is just focused on exams and league tables and never seems to go off at a tangent just because something in the news would be interesting to learn about.
I'm not in England and don't have any lo in secondary school so I'm not familiar with what's going on
Am I right in thinking that previously schools could enter pupils for their GCSE grade twice and the school could use the best grade for the league table? And if pupil got grade they were happy with GCSE was finished and they could focus on other studies?
And now Gove has changed the rules mid GCSE to say schools can only use first grade achieved so schools are reluctant to do two sittings as majority if pupils are more likely to get better grade if they study over longer period? But this results in multiple exams being taken at same time therefore more stress?
And also prior to Gove announcement pupils has already say verbal part if GCSE and attained a grade or percentage of grade for this but Gove now says this can no longer be used?
Have I got it right?
My DD is in year 11 and is in exactly the same position.
What I think is that you as a parent should not get too het up about it. Your anxiety (no matter how well you try to conceal it) will be transmitting to your daughter, and by reading your posts, undoubtedly making things worse.
Just remember it is the whole cohort of Y11s that are affected. Not just half leaving the other half advantaged against their peer group. All of them are affected.
Forget about it old love. You can't change it. The only thing you can try to manage is yours and your DD's reaction to it. Have a
Wuldric - dh and I have had our feet well off the parental anxiety peddle for the last year. It doesn't make any difference to dd (except to hopefully help her cope a bit better) She can go from 0-60 in the anxiety stakes all by herself.
I agree with the few voices who are saying that there should only be one entry.
Some schools have been playing a game of entering kids several times. I learnt that dh's niece sat history three times. She eventually achieved an A. How is this fair to kids at schools who only enter at the end of year 11?
Exams are supposed to sort the wheat from the chaff; they are not there to squash the chaff through at all costs.
lainie I have no problem with the change - but is should have been done to the current year 10 - who are just starting their GCSE course - not the current year 11 - who have nearly finished theirs.
THAT is why we are pissed off. Work that has already been done is now to be put in the bin.
Talkinpeace. It is totally disgusting to the kids who have put in massive effort with their course work. Also it sends out the wrong message that putting in effort does not always get rewarded.
I can not believe you can change the rules in the middle of the game, only
a member of the taliban or a educational zealot does that.
bemybebe I am not sure about being on here same page exactly. I would love just to teach about maths, with no exam constraints, but I can't. The lower ability sets, in particular the C/D borderline need to be taught to pass the exam, they need to understand what the examiner is looking for, they need to understand they have to show specific steps hit certain marks. Every single one of my lessons needs to improve their exam chances or else I will be letting them down. Of course I try to make it relevant and interesting to them, but they also just need to learn some things for the exam that they will in loll honesty never, ever use again.
Bruffin is right. There's a lot of evidence that whether they resit or not, students do better if they don't early enter (certainly in maths)
There's also no reason why they can't do the certificate in further maths ALONGSIDE GCSE, that way they have an even better chance of improving the gcse grade. That's how it's designed.
Interestingly it's schools in deprived areas that are more likely to early entry, with a mistaken belief that it'll improve results.
Starting AS levels in year 11 is in general a really bad idea both from the pov of universities and progression from there - ask anyone who works in a 6th form college.
Also - yes, kids do too many qualifications.
Gove, however, us an a**e and shouldn't have changed things at this stage.
I think one entry is a good system though it is clear that the current system has for example benefited those kids unlikely to stay in school until the end of the year.
The whole point though is that more dd and everybody else in year 11 was told from the minute that they started their course that there would be more than one entry. And now, right before the exam, that's been changed.
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