gcses in year 10

(70 Posts)
kennyjent Thu 03-Oct-13 14:39:14

My children's school just announced to year 10 parents that all yr 10 pupils will be taking maths and eng lang gcse at end year 10, in order to try and prevent stress of doing all subjects at end year 11, and to teach to failings for resits if need be. Gove says early entry damages pupils and the 'evidence' says pupils entered early do less well overall, even allowing for resits. Anyone know what his evidence is? Thoughts?

Erebus Fri 04-Oct-13 10:29:52

Our comp does 2 GCSEs a year early, i.e. end of Y10; one is statistics but this is only offered to the best mathematicians (some are already doing A level maths by Y11), and, universally, one called 'Business & Communication'- it's how they keep up IT, though DC like my DS is also studying Computer Science for end-of-Y11 GCSE.

The DC don't do brilliantly as they all take it, all 280 of them, unlike say their stellar Triple Science results, only taken by the most able. The DC get a far wider spread of grades in Biz Comm which is what you'd expect at a comp.

Personally I have no problem with this one universal exam, esp as DS is doing 11 GCSEs overall! Yes, too many but nowhere to cull any. I would have a problem if it were Maths if DS wasn't going to get an A or A*, and definitely English as that requires different skills-sets to maths etc, one far more likely to develop better with age and maturity.

noblegiraffe Fri 04-Oct-13 10:35:57

Starting maths A-level early isn't the best way to get good results. Often children do poorly in C1 (it's a big jump even for those who take it in Y12) and are faced with resits. Now A-levels are June sitting only, the problems will be worse.
The best course of action for able mathematicians who get an A* in Y10 is to then do a bridging qualification like further/additional maths in Y11.

exexpat Fri 04-Oct-13 10:39:22

secretscwirrels - yes, it's moderately selective, so the top sets are generally all A/A*.

What a shame for the children at your DS's school. It just seems crazy to put children in early for things when they have not yet reached their optimal performance.

lljkk Fri 04-Oct-13 10:57:46

But is it optimal performance to expect them to be at their peak at every subject simultaneously during a small time window at end of y11? Something is going to slip except perhaps for the very highest achievers (assuming no emotional upheavals that week). Always seemed like a rather loony way to do things to me. All-eggs-in-one-small-overflowing-basket. I'm glad we've got early entries around here, instead.

ErrolTheDragon Fri 04-Oct-13 11:09:40

Putting some pupils in for some subjects early may suit them, and there's nothing in Gove's recent change to stop schools from doing this - early entry isn't banned.

Just that the try-it-early-and-resit game (which is surely in very few pupils' best interests) has been quashed. The OPs case is '..to teach to failings for resits if need be' - so, some kids are set up for unnecessary 'failure' and those children will then presumably have more stress doing the resits.

This is entirely different to precocious mathematicians doing an exam they can ace early.

NoComet Fri 04-Oct-13 11:20:41

I just don't see why we are still having this debate.

My comprehensive stopped doing maths early 30 years ago because all, but the very best one or two students got better grades with a years more practice. (we did an additional maths paper along side this practice, so we didn't get bored).

friday16 Fri 04-Oct-13 11:46:36

Suggesting that because a tiny minority of university courses ask for A levels in one sitting, that parents should worry about university entry with the timing of GCSEs is unnecessary scaremongering.

But early entry GCSE often leads to messing about with KS5 as well. Pushy schools tell parents that the advantage of doing GCSEs early is that they can start AS in Y11. The split GCSE entry isn't the problem; the consequences of it are. And it's not just medicine, either: Vets at Edinburgh. It seems harsh to embark on a course of action in Y9 that (a) has little benefit to the pupils and (b) at worse will complicate admission to certain courses. If the tradeoff were that there were clear advantages to early entry then it might be different.

And one thing universities absolutely do, and not just for a small minority of courses, is want good GCSEs. So reducing grades in GCSEs, or having more but at a lower standard, is never beneficial.

friday16 Fri 04-Oct-13 11:52:32

Errol has it bang on.

If the early entry is in the pupil's best interests, they will be targeted at A or A* in the first, early sitting. That is neither banned nor discouraged in the latest announcement. There was a proposal to make the KS4 measure be only GCSEs taken at the end of Y11, but that has been quietly forgotten.

What Gove is putting a stop to is the policy of entering under-prepared children, often borderline C/D, for multiple exams in the hope that by good luck and sampling error they will scrape a C, and then stopping teaching that subject as soon as they have the C. How anyone, whether teacher or parent, can defend or encourage this practice is a complete mystery.

Just as the hand-wringing about last year's GCSE English debacle was actually people who weren't willing to accept that cheating had been happening (see, for example, the mea culpa of one of the people who was in the forefront of the court case about it here), the howls of protest about the changes in accountability measures are from schools that were gaming the system. If you're doing early entry in the pupils' best interests, carry on: nothing has changed. If, however, you were doing it to game the accountability metrics, the number's up.

creamteas Fri 04-Oct-13 12:32:17

What Gove is putting a stop to is the policy of entering under-prepared children, often borderline C/D, for multiple exams in the hope that by good luck and sampling error they will scrape a C

It is because Gove has interfered with grade boundaries that those on the the C/D borderline have to rely on good luck and sampling issues to get their C grades. Those at the borderline in Maths and English now need early entry more than ever, in order to have a best chance of passing.

My DD was in exactly this position last year. In English her target was a C grade, and she would never have achieved more than this as she would only be able to sit the foundation paper. She gained a C and is now using the time to take additional qualifications. But if she didn't get the C, it would have enabled her to retake the exam in year 11 to ensure she had this vital qualification before she left school.

Early entry is not just about school leagues tables. It is also to ensure all DC leave with vital qualifications.

Erebus Fri 04-Oct-13 12:57:50

noble- tbf, the DC taking A level maths in Y10-11 at the school concerned will be studying university level maths at 17-18. These are preternaturally able DC, in Maths! Oddly, 2 I'm thinking of got not only Maths GCSEs at 13, they also got a slew of others, inc English/History type things at good grades.

I tell DS not to be disheartened that he's not in 'top set' maths as the air up there is so rarefied!

Erebus Fri 04-Oct-13 13:07:13

And yes, creamteas I agree with what you tell us about your DD and her future chances with the potential to 'have another go', focusing on what went wrong last time.

I also agree that some DC are just ready sooner (or later) than others to give an exam a good go. I don't believe we're necessarily getting 'peak performance' our of DC who have to sit the entire slew of GCSEs over a few weeks in one year. It certainly doesn't help though who crumble under pressure- some might say this process sorts the sheep from the goats but personally, I don't believe that it's either necessary, in most work settings, to be put under mad pressure at all, and I don't think or necessarily beneficial to be using that ability as a benchmark of 'being good' at something. As an aside, that's one reason we have certain economy-destroying wbankers: boys (largely) able to make snap, huge decisions in seconds, under enormous pressure- but actually winging it. With the results as laid before us.

I am opposed to a certain extent to the 'endless resit til you get the right mark in that module' type examination, though.

Ilovegeorgeclooney Fri 04-Oct-13 13:27:31

So it is 'wrong' for people who have failed their driving test to take it again? We do English Lang in Year 10 and Lit in Year 11. With the messing around by Gove et al of the GCSE English we do this to ensure our pupils can be successful. Because this is our ethos our HT has said to continue as we are because it is in the best interests of the pupils. If the school plummets in the league tables so be it, we have to do the right thing by our children. Strangely in our last OFSTED report, Dec 2012, they praised our early entry policy as optimising success for the less able!

friday16 Fri 04-Oct-13 13:30:30

So it is 'wrong' for people who have failed their driving test to take it again?

No. But it's wrong for a Driving School to claim "90% pass rate!" if everyone they teach takes four attempts before they finally do pass.

If the school plummets in the league tables so be it

Why would it? What about the changes to the accountability measure will affect you?

Strangely in our last OFSTED report, Dec 2012, they praised our early entry policy

So you don't have anything to worry about, do you?

Erebus Fri 04-Oct-13 17:52:55

But friday- I thought the 'early entry penalty' thing was a brand new Gove-wonk? Which wasn't about in 2012? SO the school might well have something to worry about once it's in place!

An interesting comparison with driving lessons: Whilst some people who need 4 goes to pass shouldn't maybe be driving, a whole lot more will go on to be excellent drivers because of the caution they display; and some first time driving test passers are cocky little shits who are a danger to everyone around them!

ErrolTheDragon Fri 04-Oct-13 18:01:43

I'm not sure what the analogy with driving lessons is supposed to be proving... surely the ideal is that everyone has enough lessons and experience so that they are neither quick-pass cocky shits nor multiple test failers. ...

Ilovegeorgeclooney Fri 04-Oct-13 19:24:28

The analogy was that some people take longer to acquire exam technique than others and should not be penalised. This is especially important for English where timing is paramount. Plus it is the exam most vulnerable to political machinations.

Friday, you seem to imply it is wrong for schools to prioritise our pupils welfare. Multiple entries tend to be in English/Maths, the subjects young people have to have to progress in most spheres. Yet schools are 'cheating' if we want them to achieve. Behave!!! Sorry if I care more about my pupils, in a poor inner city, than Eton educated Gove's 'principles'. The man who defends the attack on another politician's father by a paper that supported Adolf Hitler. Interestingly Gove says these pupils have to continue studying English/Maths if they don't get a C but not in school?

I find the idea that league tables matter to schools more than the pupils really offensive.

SlowlorisIncognito Fri 04-Oct-13 19:30:09

WRT the earlier posts on GCSE entry effects on universities, most universities are mainly interested in the student having the required grades in English and maths, and a good overall profile, not when they were taken. If a student is missing a particular grade that is essential for the course (usually English, maths, a science or ocassionally MFL), to my knowledge, all universities will consider giving out offers including a retake of this GCSE alongside A levels.

Even with A levels, not taking all exams in one sitting is only a disadvantage at a tiny minority of universities (Imperial is one I can think of off the top of my head) and even these universities will allow for the resitting of an occasional module.

I know this is slightly off topic, but I just wanted to back up what creamteas was saying (even though she is way more experienced than me) because sometimes numbers persaude me. It bothers me a bit how much misinformation about university admissions is posted on this forum (and the internet in general)!

greyvix Fri 04-Oct-13 19:36:05

OP, your DCs' school is very brave. It is putting the students' interests first, and not worrying about the league tables, where it will be judged harshly by this decision. It is a positive situation for students, as they will be able to re-sit to get the best grades. For the school, however, only the first sitting will count, and there are unlikely to be as many C grades (or A/A*) first time around. Schools that chose to enter early prior to June 2014 did so to get the extra speaking and listening contribution in English.
My thoughts are, if students are ready, it is an advantage to enter early in English, as the school can focus on literature in year 11. Presumably in maths, they can move on to statistics/ AS level. However, I would be unhappy if my DCs sacrificed potential A/A* for the sake of early entry.
It says a lot for the school that the students are prioritised.

friday16 Fri 04-Oct-13 22:18:01

Sorry if I care more about my pupils, in a poor inner city, than Eton educated Gove's 'principles'.

An argument that would have more merit had Gove gone to Eton, and not Robert Gordon's College, Aberdeen on a full scholarship having previously attended the local comp, as he in fact did. That's an interesting example of a politically motivated smear: you're attempting to imply that he comes from a rich background, rather than having been adopted at six months by a lab technician and a fish shop owner. I thought social mobility via education was generally considered to be a good thing?

I find the idea that league tables matter to schools more than the pupils really offensive.

In which case, Gove's changes won't affect you in the slightest, as they only affect league tables, not pupils.

noblegiraffe Fri 04-Oct-13 22:25:46

Gove didn't get the scholarship until his final year, I believe. Up till then his parents paid the fees like any others who choose to send their child private.

friday16 Fri 04-Oct-13 22:29:37

I didn't know that.

Still not Eton, though.

ErrolTheDragon Fri 04-Oct-13 22:41:40

>It says a lot for the school that the students are prioritised.

Its not clear that's happening in the OP's DCs' school. She said all yr 10 pupils would be taking English and maths early. For many kids, getting a poor grade to start with and having to resit must mean more work, more stress. Do you think that's in their best interests?

ErrolTheDragon Fri 04-Oct-13 22:43:48

>I find the idea that league tables matter to schools more than the pupils really offensive

It is an offensive idea; unfortunately there are some schools where this happens. I've heard teachers bewailing the fact that it does - its not what they want.

greyvix Fri 04-Oct-13 23:25:12

It is in the students' best interests because a C in maths and English really matters for their job prospects. Anyone not achieving that in Year 10 will have a lot of support in year 11 to achieve it, with no measurable benefit to the school.
In a lot of schools, the GCSE course begins in year 9, so they will have had 2 years of GCSE teaching to prepare. Obviously, they will be more mature in year 11, but the new linear exam system will put more pressure on the end of the course in all subjects. (For example, in science, many will have to sit 9 exams in June.)

friday16 Fri 04-Oct-13 23:51:19

It is in the students' best interests because a C in maths and English really matters for their job prospects.

What about the people who were on perfectly good course to get an A at the end of Y11, but in fact get a B at the end of Y10? How has the early entry helped them? How many of them are encouraged to retake to "just" get one grade better? How much support do they get in doing so?

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