Niece told they gave her the wrong English paper

(19 Posts)
sanityseeker75 Tue 10-Sep-13 10:10:20

Hi

I am hoping for some advice for my niece. She was given a foundation level paper as they told her a C was sufficient for her English. I thought this was strange as she obtained A's and B's for all her English course work.

She returned back to school last week and was told by her teacher that they were disappointed with her C grade and when she said that C was the highest that she could get on foundation the teacher told her that they had given her the wrong paper.

My niece has been told she needs to resit the higher paper and also that she will need to redo coursework as she can not submit this for the exam as it has changed?

She is very upset by this and is worried at how she is going to complete the coursework and resit as well as staying on top of her other work?

Has anyone experienced anything like this before or have any ideas on how this can be handled?

Thanks

friday16 Tue 10-Sep-13 10:49:04

"She is very upset by this and is worried at how she is going to complete the coursework and resit as well as staying on top of her other work?"

She doesn't have to, of course.

But what are her long-term objectives? Is a C actually sufficient? Many sixth-form colleges want a B in maths and English, for example.

sanityseeker75 Tue 10-Sep-13 11:23:11

She wants to be a language teacher and has high grades across all other subjects including A* in French. I think she is worried because the school she currently goes to does not offer enough MFL and so she is trying to find another sixth form college close to home that can accommodate her but knows that she needs good grades.

I think that she is right to be stressed and upset as the teachers attitude sounds poor (but then I have only heard her side of it).

What I am looking for is some advice on what practical steps can be taken. Should it be a letter to the HT asking for how this happened and what are the school doing to support her? Should her previous coursework be allowed to be submitted? Should it be raised with the examination board separately?

Or should she just suck it up despite the complete lack of empathy and support?

My sister is not overly academic and does not know what to do to help and my DS is not as old so I have no real experience at this age.

friday16 Tue 10-Sep-13 12:02:53

Is your niece starting Y10 or Y11? Was this the result of early entry at the end of Y10? If so, what English is she studying this year? A lot of schools enter people for English Language in Y10, then if they do badly they can retake it, or otherwise they can pack English Literature GCSE into a year. If she is going to take GCSE Language at Higher Tier plus GCSE Literature (only available at Higher Tier, I think, but I could be wrong) then that should be manageable, given support from the school.

"She wants to be a language teacher and has high grades across all other subjects including A* in French."

You do have to ask what the hell the school was doing putting her in for foundation English. Either the decision was wrong, or something had gone horribly wrong with the teaching and assessment in the school. But I'm confused by what year she's in: has she got an A* in French GCSE at the end of Y10? Impressive.

If by "language teacher" you mean "degree in MFL followed by a PGCE" then a C at English is a potential problem, and might rule her out of contention at some universities. It's hard to judge because it's three years before she'll be applying, and applications for MFL are way down and therefore it's not hugely competitive, but a C in English can be a problem. Someone wanting to apply for medicine (I realise that is not necessarily comparable) would massively restrict the medical schools they could apply to, for example. And more generally, most serious applicants to Oxbridge and the more competitive Russell Group universities will have mostly As and A*s in their best eight; a C will stick out like a sore thumb.

It's also possible that between now and five years' time, when your niece applies for a PGCE, the floor maths and English GCSE standard could be raised for PGCE applicants. I wouldn't say it's likely, but I wouldn't bet heavily against it either.

In my city, A or A* in what you want to study, plus B in maths and English if they aren't amongst your A Level choices, is the basic entry requirement into the more academic sixth forms. There are other sixth form colleges that will accept you with C in maths and English, but they will still want B in the subjects you intend to study. English, French and German (or Spanish) is the standard A level suite for MFL degrees, and very few places will let you study A Level English with a C, still less off the foundation paper. So she really does need to retake it, I'm afraid.

"Should her previous coursework be allowed to be submitted?"

Either it can or it can't, and there's nothing the school can do about it. Find out the facts, by talking to the examinations officer at the school or the exam board in question, and accept the answer.

" Should it be a letter to the HT asking for how this happened "

Suppose they say "OMG we totally messed up, slapped botties all around". How does this help? You are where you are.

"Should it be raised with the examination board separately?"

Should what? She entered a paper with a C-grade cap, and got a C-grade. How's that the board's problem?

"Or should she just suck it up despite the complete lack of empathy and support?"

If she decides she needs to retake, complaining about the school's failings is a luxury she doesn't have. Hopefully the school will be supportive. Don't start arguments that aren't worth winning about what happened before: focus on the objective, not the history.

"My sister is not overly academic and does not know what to do to help"

But she's asking the right questions. I'd say, not knowing more of the facts, that a C at GCSE from the foundation English paper was not likely to be helpful to someone who wanted to study MFL at university, and all other things being equal it would be worth re-taking.

sanityseeker75 Tue 10-Sep-13 12:32:52

Thank you

She is in Year 11 and yes did get A* in French GCSE at the end of Year 10.

I guess the real frustration is why they sat her a foundation level paper and now are saying it is the mistake.

I think you are right that getting into an argument with the school is not going to really help her get where she needs to be. Would it be reasonable to contact the school to ask them for help in putting together a plan to help get her through this? Or would that just alienate them and prove counter productive.

I think she is resigned to re-taking just feeling the pressure.

Yes - ask the school for a plan of how they can support her through this.

The school are correct in saying that she won't be able to submit her previous coursework again. The format of the exams has changed.

Also get her to contact the college of her choice and explain the situation - would they - with a reference from her current school giving an evaluation of her real performance (and maybe admitting her mistake) accept her for the course she wants to d, even with a c in English.

their mistake not hers!

wants to do!

titchy Tue 10-Sep-13 12:57:01

Doing it again in year 11 isn't that big a deal is it? That's what most kids do, without the benefit of having had a bit of practice sitting a real exam.

It's a slight pain having to re-do her controlled assessments, but again most kids do 2 in year 11 anyway.

friday16 Tue 10-Sep-13 13:01:31

educatingarti

"Also get her to contact the college of her choice and explain the situation - would they - with a reference from her current school giving an evaluation of her real performance (and maybe admitting her mistake) accept her for the course"

That might work at sixth form. It's highly, highly unlikely to work when applying for university. I'm not even sure there's a mechanism to provide such a reference if she's doing her A Levels somewhere other than where she did her GCSEs.

OP

"Would it be reasonable to contact the school to ask them for help in putting together a plan to help get her through this?"

Yes, that's essential. And, after all, they've raised the issue. But by the sounds of it perhaps you should go along to that meeting as well as your sister.

friday16
I used to work in university admissions. Yes it is possible that it might affect her university admission (depends where she is aiming for) but by then she would have results of year 12 exams which would show how out of kilter the C was. It can still be mentioned by the college when they do her reference for UCAS. The original letter from school can be shown to an individual admissions tutor if/when requested. If all her other results ( like the A* in French) back this up then the university can take account of this.

If the Op is unsure and the niece has an idea of where she might like to go to university and what course then my advice would be to contact the relevant admissions tutors. They are usually really pleased when students contact them so far in advance and are being thoughtful of what qualifications they need. They would let you know if it is likely to be an issue for their particular course/uni.

That said - I'm thinking that the government may be bringing something in about all teachers having B or above ( or equivalent) in English and Maths - not sure if they have actually done this or are aiming to, so if she wants to be a teacher she it may be more of an issue.

Of course she doesn't have to resit in year 11. if the college are happy to admit her with the C she could resit in year 12 if she felt that would be easier.

Ilovegeorgeclooney Tue 10-Sep-13 14:10:38

You can get a B on Foundation paper if your Controlled Assessments and Speaking and Listening marks are high enough. So it sounds as if it would be worth redoing her Unit 2 and 3 as well because they could not have been more than a low B.

titchy Tue 10-Sep-13 14:38:40

I don't think you can re-do individual units now georgeclooney. Everything has to be taken at the end.

HavantGuard Tue 10-Sep-13 14:47:15

She needs an acknowledgement of the school's fuck up in writing. That could go in with her application. She also needs a ruling from the exam board about the coursework. I don't have any idea if it's possible, but it is possible that they might have the leeway to allow her to just sit the exam and keep her existing coursework if they are told of the school's error.

Your sister needs to be meeting with the head and head of English and asking them what they are going to do to put this right.

friday16 Tue 10-Sep-13 15:06:10

"She needs an acknowledgement of the school's fuck up in writing. That could go in with her application."

educatingarti thinks this would work. I'm more sceptical.

Firstly, the obvious response to a fuck-up in Y10 is "why didn't you retake it in Y11?" If it's a case of a pupil who was clearly working at Higher Tier standard, who took the Foundation Tier paper for some administrative reason (let's gloss over how neither she nor her parents noticed) and was therefore a strong candidate for Higher Tier, then actually sitting the exam at the end of Y11 shouldn't be a big deal. Yes, there's some coursework to be done, depending on if the stuff she'd already done is deemed "cashed-in" and/or if the scheme of work has changed, but again, if she's obviously working at the higher level, the work involved in doing that is not huge. And there's always the possibility of taking an iGCSE instead, which doesn't have coursework anyway.

And secondly, the initial paper sift by admissions tutors is pretty coarse-grained stuff. There will be a notional threshold over which everyone, apart from mature students applying with non-standard qualifications and so on, is expected to get. Applications which don't meet that won't be made offers of places or interviews. Perhaps a conscientious admissions officer might get to read the letter explaining the C, perhaps not. Even if they do, it's possible that an account of this problem would make a difference, but I'm not so sure: taking Foundation at the end of Y10 and then Higher at the end of Y11 is hardly unusual (see first point), and in any event most candidate applying to start university in 2016 will have taken all their GCSEs, apart from any they did early, as terminal exam only linear two-year courses (because of the changes made to GCSE for first teaching in 2012).

If everyone else sat all their subjects at the end of Y11, an admission tutor might think, why couldn't the OP's niece? The letter just draws attention to the fact that, for whatever reason, she took fewer exams at the end of Y11 than other people did.

Sorry, I think the OP's niece's options are to chance it with the C she has, or retake at the end of Y11, with the school's support.

HavantGuard Tue 10-Sep-13 17:03:06

I meant as well as resitting. I was actually talking about her application to college or sixth form at another school, not university, as the OP said the one she's at doesn't do the language A levels she wants to do. I didn't make it clear. I don't know when that process starts but it would be before she gets any results from her 'resist' and the letter would explain why her grade was so off.

HavantGuard Tue 10-Sep-13 17:03:44

'Resit'

creamteas Tue 10-Sep-13 18:35:51

As an admissions tutor, I would say it is probably not worth resiting. C will get you into most universities, and if any want a higher grade the explanation on her UCAS for should be enough.

This is especially true if she is thinking of studying MFL at university. Applicants are in short supply (and this is unlikely to change in the next few years.

Is she thinking of taking English at A level? If so, this is even more reason not to worry about the C.

friday16 Tue 10-Sep-13 19:49:01

This is especially true if she is thinking of studying MFL at university. Applicants are in short supply (and this is unlikely to change in the next few years.

As I think I mentioned at the outset. German, in particular, is in free-fall.

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