Advice needed re Year 9 ds being put in too early for GCSE science

(115 Posts)
frankinsensible Thu 06-Dec-12 16:48:41

Sorry this is quite long...ds school has a policy of putting kids in for some GCSE's in yr 9. In yr 8 he chose 2 options from a limited selection - a language and a practical subject - and has studied them intensively for GCSE next summer. That seems to be going OK-ish although I personally think he is too immature for the language exam. Whenever we query with a subject teacher that it is too early for this step they just blithely say 'he can always take it again'.

The problem is the school now tells us that he is being put in for English Literature and Science GCSE's as well and has module exams in January. At the parents evening the science teacher told us that if ds fails the exam he will not be able to re-take it! When we looked shocked he said it would be fine because ds won't fail.

After a couple of days I began to be really worried about it. Ds is an intelligent boy but he's only 13 and I don't feel he's anywhere near the maturity of written expression and presentation required to get a good grade in these exams. He also suffers from Absence Seizures which are worse under stress. I brought all this up with his tutor who said he had spoken with the science teacher and the exam can be re-taken if he fails (so why tell us that it couldn't?) and that they are certain he will do well.

My biggest worry is I know ds is the type to react badly to a bad result - he will say that he's no good at the subject so it won't be any help to him to have to re-take. Today he had an oral exam in the language and came home pretty crushed saying it had gone badly sad

Can I insist that the school do not put him in for the science GCSE? What is my best course of action? I don't want to get into a big stand-off with them but I am genuinely worried - this is ds's future they're gambling with.

lljkk Thu 06-Dec-12 18:14:05

You need something in writing about resists. One written statement per subject, if necessary.
My guess is that resits will be possible but you will have to pay a fee.
I don't see how he can be forced to take any exam. But if he doesn't take it now, they may not have room in regular timetable for him to take it in future.

TheFallenMadonna Thu 06-Dec-12 18:19:17

He will be able to retake in June as long as he hasn't done one before. However, if he doesn't get the grades in the summer, he would have to take the whole qualification again in June 2014. I agree that January of year 9 is too early for a science GCSE exam.

Worley Thu 06-Dec-12 18:21:27

ds1 is yr 9. his school has started all yr 9's doing there GCSE's already. as he is in top set his class get an extra hour a week as they will finish in yr 10. they then expect them to do Btecs or something in their last year!
anyway.. we were told if they aren't up to it they won't get out in to it. and they can resit if needed.
have you spoke to head about your concerns? are they getting extra help If they're putting them in a year early too?

frankinsensible Thu 06-Dec-12 19:05:50

Thanks so much for your replies. He is getting an extra hour of revision per week after school for the science. The curriculum has been pared right down so he has 5 hours per week for the science, language and design subjects and 4 hours per week for english and maths Pretty much everything else has been put aside for this year apart from 1 hour of PE and one hour of sex/social ed. They describe it as 'short fat courses'.

I haven't had anything in writing about any of it - only discussed at parent evenings. I'm not sure about speaking to the head - he is the figurehead for this type of course and always going on about how highly ofsted thought of it so I doubt he'll be interested in my worries. Also of course all the subject teachers say they think ds will be 'fine'.

Worley Thu 06-Dec-12 21:37:41

a lot of the schools in our region have started doing the early start to gcse's. I don't know why... maybe it's helps the school or the children? ds1 has been bringing a lot if past exam papers home for his homework do they're focussing on getting them to exam type answers already at 13
sad

lljkk Fri 07-Dec-12 07:38:43

It's funny how MNers almost universally hate early GCSEs (before yr11?).

Around here, doing GCSEs over 2-3 years seems to be universally popular among parents. I haven't heard a single parent say anything against it; well, one mum was a bit shock about GCSE options being chosen in Feb of yr8, but she's not moaned since.

This modern way of doing GCSEs over several years is close to my own education system, so seems right to me, too.

throckenholt Fri 07-Dec-12 08:13:51

what happens if he passes ? Does he then drop the subject ? I would much rather mine had the chance to study the subject (whatever it is) for the full school time than lose out on a year. Surely all subjects benefit from longer term familiarity.

I did maths and English Language in the 4th year (as it was then). I then did AO maths the next year. But I never did any more English Language (despite winning the school priize for that year) because I did science options later on. In hindsight I regret not having the chance to do more in my 5th year.

I think there is a danger with kids doing GCSE's early that they lack the wider understanding that enables them to do better. Probably the high fliers will still scrape the good grades, but the others probably not.

I think I would prefer now to ditch gcse's altogether in favour of exams at 17 and/or 18 but that is another arguement.

I would query it with the school and as some blunt questions.

Muminwestlondon Fri 07-Dec-12 09:18:54

My child is also doing 2 GCSEs in year 9, and will do 4 in year 10 and 5 or so in year 11. She has done some modules of her language and English already.

Having had another child who did them all in year 11, I think early entry is crazy. I think the exams are designed to be taken by 15/16 year olds, not 13 year olds. As there is now such pressure to get A* in everything, it is a lot easier at the end of 5 years in secondary school rather than 2 and a bit.

Yes it is stressful that they are spread over a few weeks in year 11 but that is nothing compared to the constant stress in year 9.

mumsneedwine Fri 07-Dec-12 10:06:13

Hate to add that some universities like to see the best 8 grades for GCSEs sat in the same year. So early entry actually penalises the students. It's ok if it's for one of two, and then further qualifications are taken in that subject, but to sit 4 a year is not a good idea at all.

Muminwestlondon Fri 07-Dec-12 10:09:29

Some kids in DD's school have made it to Oxbridge (including medicine), Russell Group etc, despite the early entries. I think the Universities are aware that some schools have that policy and don't penalise the kids for it, as they have no choice!

lljkk Fri 07-Dec-12 11:12:10

How many spaces are there on relevant courses at those fussy Unis? Not many I'll wager (meaning it's not a consideration for most).

Local choice is that the pupils take 2 options in each of yrs9-10-11 (or 3 options in each of yrs10-11) and yes they drop them afterwards (obviously could pursue on own otherwise). The options are things like MFL, geography, RE. You have to HE or go private if you want to stack all your exams & results to end of yr11 performance.

Sciences & maths & English are continuous all the way to end of yr11 & final marks in those subjects awarded end of yr11.

I like it because it's similar to how I did my secondary education. It makes sense to me.

I don't accept that it leads to poor long term results in the subjects taken early. In high school, I never studied geography at all as a subject on its own, and still managed to get a first degree in it, top marks, too. I nearly did history as degree subject instead, and I dropped that, too, in high school after yr10.

chloe74 Fri 07-Dec-12 11:16:24

This is the way that schools fiddle the system to make it look like they are getting more A*-C grades and the child's education is collateral damage. If he gets a 'C' grade I imagine they will then make him drop the subject and spend the extra time getting him a 'C' in another subject. If he gets a D they will keep him resitting the exam until he gets the C.

He should be allowed to study the subject until Y11 and get the best grade possible. I would come down on the school forcefully and stop them doing this nonsense. Do not listen to the teachers platitudes, they are only interested in making themselves look good and have little interest in whats best for an individual child. If you have to I would consider legal advice.

Muminwestlondon Fri 07-Dec-12 11:22:49

One of the major drawbacks in our case, is that only English, maths and science are studied continuously through year 9 to year 11. All other subjects are effectively dropped at the end of year 8 and taken as one year GCSE courses. If DD was to do Spanish at A' level she would not have studied it at school for two years. The subjects DD enjoys most - art and music - she can only do as one year GCSE courses.

Maths IGCSE is taken in January of year 10 which seems a bit early in DD's case and she would I think benefit from taking it at the end of year 11 which is not an option. She has no interest in AS maths or statistics GCSE which would be taken after maths GCSE.

mumsneedwine Fri 07-Dec-12 12:56:52

The fussy universities are Oxbridge and Russell Group. All insist on 6 at one sitting and some 8. It is not fair on the kids, and exceptions are made for spectacular candidates, but it is the norm to ask for one sitting. If you want more proof google 'Russell Universities Informed Choices" - document written by the Unis to advise students.

Muminwestlondon Fri 07-Dec-12 13:22:44

I am certain that Oxbridge and Russell Group do not penalise candidates who have no choice at their school. A number of candidates from DD's school have gone to Russell Group uni's recently; a candidate also got into medicine at Cambridge (and took one of his 4 A levels in the January) and a couple of others to Oxford.

lljkk Fri 07-Dec-12 13:30:14

What I described, btw, E+M+science+2/3 options means 6-8 completed at same time, anyway. Just that there's another 3-4 GCSEs done in earlier years, too.

I'm pretty sure that Norfolk state school pupils have no choice. So either all Norfolk school leavers from state system are banned from all RG/Oxbridge, or there is some flexibility after all.

mumsneedwine Fri 07-Dec-12 13:30:42

He did 4 A levels so did the other 3 at one sitting (the usual A Level requirement) ! Most schools, even if they sit some early, will still do 6 in one year, so doing some early is not bad in itself. What is not helpful is if they do 4 in year 9, 4 in year 10 & 4 in year 11, which one poor kid I help had done. He had all A* but found it hard to find a course to take him. The Unis say they need proof that students can cope with the rigour of the course and of taking many exams at the same time. It is still possible (above named lad is now at Imperial), but it took hours of persuasion to get them to accept him. It is not impossible, but requires more of a fight..

twoterrors Fri 07-Dec-12 15:54:21

See this https://www.education.gov.uk/publications/eOrderingDownload/Early-entries-GCSEs.pdf

It took about 30 secs to find. Schools absolutely know about this. They are gaming the league tables, and it is not in the children's interests (in general - of course there are always exceptions). Ofsted has also criticised this practice. I would present the school with this and other evidence, and ask how entering children so early is in their interests when the evidence is that even with resits they will get worse grades? That's without even considering the extra stress and anxiety.

Some quotes:
"The main argument against early entry is that statistically, early entry
candidates perform worse overall than those who do not enter early, even
when taking account of resits (see below for precise figures)."

"The statistical evidence so far indicates that for lower achieving pupils, there is
little discernable benefit in early entry other than increasing opportunities to retake before the end of KS4 which still does not improve the overall comparative
result. For pupils who achieve level 4 or above at KS2 (and would therefore be
expected to achieve grade A*-C at GCSE) the average final grade is lower for
early entrants. Higher attaining pupils are therefore being disadvantaged by
entering early and not achieving their full potential."

Very good luck

mercibucket Fri 07-Dec-12 15:59:49

As twoterrors says

Unless he's online for an a* statistically he will do worse if he does his exams a year early

This benefits the school not the pupil and is opposed by ofsted

mercibucket Fri 07-Dec-12 15:59:49

As twoterrors says

Unless he's online for an a* statistically he will do worse if he does his exams a year early

This benefits the school not the pupil and is opposed by ofsted

throckenholt Fri 07-Dec-12 17:01:05

The point should be that by studying a subject for up to 5 years (from the start of senior school) and then doing an exam in it is that you have had 5 years of accumulated understanding, plus the advantage of insight from other subjects that overlap. If you do the exams after only a year or so of study (particularly in a language) means to have very little time to assimilate it.

The current system really does force teaching to the test rather than the wider subject. We really need to get to the point where you study a subject widely, and the exams are sufficiently well designed to allow you to display your wide knowledge and understanding of the subject.

Also taking exams at an older stage means you have more maturity and more experience of life which should improve your performance in exams. If nothing else it also means you have had a couple more years writing in your own language and so hopefully will be able to put your thoughts down more coherently (which would have the added bonus of making the exams easier to mark).

The problem is that if you want to have a quick and cheap marking system then you have to lean towards multiple choice and restricted curricula (ie everyone answering the same set of questions). And you have to then have a set criteria of which knowledge you deem important enough to be included.

The whole system makes it very difficult to spend any time on something that is interesting even if it is a bit off on a tangent.

This discussion has strayed a lot from the original question. i hope you manage to come up with something you are both happy with.

frankinsensible Fri 07-Dec-12 17:01:12

twoterrors thanks so much for that link and I will read and digest but reading the first paragraph I see they define 'early' as 'end of year 10 or part-way through year 11'!

ds is certainly not an A* candidate - there's no suggestion that he is being put in early because he is unusually bright but just that they think he can get at least a C and then go on to do more advanced science GCSE. My argument is why get a C now (if he's lucky) when, with a couple more years of maturity he could very well get an A/A*. We have also been told by his consultant that he might well recover from his epilepsy once he passes through puberty which would also help.

If he passes the English Literature he will then continue only with English Language - so far they have 'done' some poetry and are in the process of wizzing over two shakespeare plays. In the new year they will go on to 'Of Mice and Men'. To me, rushing through Literature in this way makes a complete nonsense of the subject which is supposed to examine in depth and inculcate a love of reading, plays etc

I really don't know what approach to take tho' - this system is absolutely ingrained in the school and no-one on the staff I have spoken to so far will hear a word against it. Basically it's probably going to be a case of put up or change schools and I know ds would be completely against a move.

webwiz Fri 07-Dec-12 17:16:54

Its odd to take English Literature early frankinsensible as the analytical skills needed develop with maturity and as you say what is the point in rushing through it.

I'm not sure what the answer is though if the school are set on this way of teaching.

frankinsensible Fri 07-Dec-12 17:25:56

It's so worrying webwiz and also really tricky because if we go on about it too much in front of ds it is going to undermine his confidence in the school. I feel really stuck at the moment. I am not a timid person - I have raised problems on various things through his education but I feel this is too big for me to go against. Perhaps I should go to see the head or one of the deputies and at least have my say about it.

webwiz Fri 07-Dec-12 17:38:24

I think I would want to know how its all going to pan out over years 9, 10 and 11. If he's taking English Literature at the end of year 9 (it sounds like he is from the work already covered) then what next - English language in year 10 and then that's it for English?

Once I knew exactly what exams were being taken when then I'd make sure my DC had the relevant revision guides so that they could prepare properly. If it was a subject that was key to what they wanted to do at A level I might even consider tutoring to give them the best chance possible of getting a good grade.

DS is in year 11 and has just turned 16, he's taking English literature this year and will hopefully do really well. He wants to take it at A level as well but I don't think he would if he'd rushed through it all at 13.

This is entirely for the benefit of the school and not your child.

Only exceptionally advanced DCs will get top grades in year 9. GCSEs are designed for 16 year olds and there is a world of difference in maturity between 14 and 16.

twoterrors Fri 07-Dec-12 17:55:56

I see the problem but I think you have nothing to lose by going to the school with the evidence (and include the ofsted report because that is very firm on how ofsted will view schools compromising children's chances, if memory serves, and anything else you can find)

After all, it is not rocket science - the schools could have guessed before quite so much data was out, as many parents did, that 13 year olds will do better if they wait till 16 to take an exam designed for that age. If the league tables were focussed on kids getting 8 A/A* (I am not suggesting they should be), then it would not be in the school's interest to do this - it is a statistical quirk. They must have known all along I think.

I don't think it will make them change their policy overnight, but it might make them feel they need to explain to you and provide as much extra support as possible, perhaps? And give you a good long chance to hear the head and deputy explain why they do this.

Personally, I am afraid I agree about doing English Literature in year 9. There is a huge leap in maturity and just, well, in being able to cope with Stuff.

Also, the modular system and rules about retakes are changing - are you sure he will be able to retake?

Poor kids. What a slog they are making it.

ravenAK Fri 07-Dec-12 17:58:38

chloe74 'This is the way that schools fiddle the system to make it look like they are getting more A*-C grades and the child's education is collateral damage. If he gets a 'C' grade I imagine they will then make him drop the subject and spend the extra time getting him a 'C' in another subject. If he gets a D they will keep him resitting the exam until he gets the C.

He should be allowed to study the subject until Y11 and get the best grade possible. I would come down on the school forcefully and stop them doing this nonsense. Do not listen to the teachers platitudes, they are only interested in making themselves look good and have little interest in whats best for an individual child. If you have to I would consider legal advice.'

I partially agree with you, chloe74 - it is indeed about getting as many >C grades as possible, as this is a key league table measure. & yes, it does result in multiple re-takes & modules at the expense of breadth of knowledge.

Where you are mistaken is in thinking that teachers chose or like this system. It's what's known as a perverse incentive.

So you wouldn't catch me issuing 'platitudes' about what a great idea it is, as an English teacher, but you might expect to hear some from the Head or the Chair of Governors.

As for 'stopping' the school, or 'legal advice' - I honestly don't think the OP can compel her ds's school to change their curriculum, which is in line with the exam board's own rules...but I'd certainly be expressing concern if it were my dc.

Not least because the guidelines on re-sits etc are currently in such a state of confusion that, frankly, it isn't unknown for departments to drop a bollock & suddenly discover that they've breached a new rule which renders a re-sit impossible/an early result inadmissable...

frankinsensible Fri 07-Dec-12 18:11:56

I've no idea what's happening about English long-term - there will still be English Language even if he passes Literature so perhaps they plan for him to take that in yr 11 as it's a core subject?

I heard about the system on retakes changing and in my original post I mentioned that the science teacher said told us face to face that ds would not be able to retake the January module if he failed it. When I took my concerns to the tutor he said the same teacher had now told him that ds could retake so 'don't worry' which certainly didn't stop me worrying. His tutor was my big hope, he has always seemed so down to earth and sensible but he still came out with the same stuff - kids become more mature, get more exams, are more motivated - that the Head preaches. Knowing ds as I do I really can't see him sitting down and writing a long essay analysing Romeo and Juliet or a piece of poetry. He still relies on me a lot for help with homework and is very undisciplined with self-study.

I have planned to get the study guides and I think they are probably going to use them at school anyway as it's all about the exam. I don't think I like the idea of tutoring tho' - he's already doing so much work at school as well as the after-school science revision, I think tutoring on top might just push him over the edge and I know dp will be opposed to it.

lljkk Fri 07-Dec-12 18:17:43

I don't see how you lot can change the whole school timetable.

Do you want the school to set an individual timetable, just for your DC, so that they can study all subjects right to the end of yr11? (Mind boggles).

I am trying to figure out how anyone could stomp up to a school and demand that their child be taught differently to all the others.

frankinsensible Fri 07-Dec-12 18:22:59

You are being deliberately provocative lljkk, I am not asking to change 'the whole timetable'. I am concerned that my ds is being used by the school in a way which is not of benefit to him and that he has been selected where others have not. If I go to the school I will expect to have a rational discussion with them where I hope they will understand my worries are all about ds's future - I certainly won't be 'stomping' in to throw my weight about on some whim.

webwiz Fri 07-Dec-12 18:25:47

lljkk I don't think that is what the OP wants - she just wants her DS to be given a fair chance to get decent grades in his GCSEs. So if the school insists on such a mad system of exam entry then they need to put the resources into supporting the DCs through it and helping to compensate for their lack of maturity.

All the schools where I live take nearly all GCSEs at the end of year 11 when DCs are 16 and get very good results because that is the way the system is designed.

frankinsensible Fri 07-Dec-12 18:42:05

So have I got this right: the school looks better in the league tables because they can say they have more A*-C grades even though the majority will probably be C grades?

I am really not well-informed on all this stuff. As far as I can see the schools in our are that are top of the table all take exams in yr 11.

twoterrors Fri 07-Dec-12 18:49:54

Yes: although the league tables are now including more detail, the measures people seem to look at are the % of 5A*-C inc English and Maths, % of 5A*-C, and the number of points. The last two are boosted by kids getting lots of Cs.

Oh and don't be fooled by the number of A*s.
They count D* BTECs as GCSEs and they are nothing like the same.

frankinsensible Fri 07-Dec-12 18:59:52

So do Universities take a lot of notice of GCSE grades? Aren't they more focussed on A'levels?

ravenAK Fri 07-Dec-12 19:00:27

Yes, frankinsensible.

I had a group last year of 'able but idles' - lowest English set in higher stream. Mostly very much capable of grade B.

All entered early for Foundation tier English Language, the idea being they'd bag a 'safe C' & go on to do Higher in the summer.

First part of plan worked flawlessly.

& then, pretty much to a man (overwhelmingly boys in this group), they cheerfully & unabashedly informed me that having got the C they needed to get into college, they had no intention of doing a stroke of work for the Higher paper.

Some were willing to have a punt on the day, some asked not to be entered for it & some announced their intention of not turning up/spoiling their papers if school insisted.

& you know, this was a perfectly logical response on their part - why graft to take another exam, taking time away from your socialising revision for other subjects, when you've already got the grade you need for the next stage of your education?

Didn't matter much to school, either - our 5 A*-C was great.

But those kids certainly didn't get the grades they were capable of.

Like I said, perverse incentives.

frankinsensible Fri 07-Dec-12 19:06:21

ravenAK - is that the way English is structured for GCSE - a lower and a higher exam? What age were your group? It is very interesting to have input from teachers here!

ravenAK Fri 07-Dec-12 19:33:48

Year 11s.

They had (it's being knocked on the head now) an opportunity to sit the exam in January & again in June of year 11 - some schools also sit one of the exams, often one of the Eng Lit papers, in June of year 10.

In theory this means you bung everyone in for the appropriate tier (Foundation - targets grades C downwards, or Higher for C upwards) in January, see who fails, & then put them in for a re-take in June.

In practice, if you're gaming the system & focusing on the 5 A*-C measure, just about everyone (all but the obvious A/A* candidates) gets put in for Foundation because it's generally seen as an easier way to get a C.

You then put all your Ds & Es in for another crack at Foundation, & all your 'got a C, but has a higher target' kids in for Higher - although as explained above quite a lot of them think 'sod that!'.

The Gs, Fs, Bs, As & A*s get left in peace.

By the end of this process, every kid who is capable of getting a C should have one (the borderliners who fail in January get booster classes, off timetable etc).

This looks great in the league table, but it certainly doesn't mean everyone gets the grade they should...

lljkk Fri 07-Dec-12 19:47:21

I thought that some posters were adamant that the OP should insist to school that her DS do EngLit exams at end of yr11, so apologies if I misunderstood that.

Frankinsensible were you told back when GCSE options were chosen, what the schedule would be for when your DS would finish which GCSEs? Is it in writing? I would have thought parents would always be so well-informed, but from what MNers write, seems often to be a mystery.

Also, were you told, back when touring & choosing secondaries, what kind of schedule the school followed for GCSEs? I just finished tour of secondaries for DD & am amused that not one school explained that except after I asked specific questions.

But then I like the multi-yr system for GCSEs, anyway.

creamteas Fri 07-Dec-12 19:55:08

Raven we have this at my DC's school and it really works for them. I have two with ASD who are really anxious about exams, being able to sit the foundation paper and bank a C gave them chance to attempt the higher papers in English.

If all entries were at the end of year 11, they would only ever get the chance for a C because the risk of failing the higher paper is too great.

GrimmaTheNome Fri 07-Dec-12 19:59:25

If you look at the schools at the top of league tables - judged by A/A* and EBacc not just A*-C - I bet you'll find very few of them playing these stupid games with their pupils' education. They just get on and teach the subjects properly for the full time.

My DD is 13, she's very good at science - no way would she be ready to do a GCSE at the end of this year. No way would she have the maturity to do English literature. She's currently predicted to get A*s in these subjects, taken at the right time.

OP, if they aren't making everyone do this then you certainly should insist your DS doesn't - the epilepsy is a good reason they ought to find hard to challenge (not that you should need an excuse to avoid their shennanigins).

ravenAK Fri 07-Dec-12 20:04:43

Oh yes, I'm not saying it's a disaster, & going to all terminal exams will absolutely clobber dc like yours.

But early entry definitely means able but less motivated kids 'settle' for a banked C.

Personally, I reckon my bunch of feckless loveable rogues last year self-limited & fair enough - why should they end up with the same grade as someone of equal ability who is prepared to work their socks off for a re-sit in hopes of a B?

They would, however, have achieved higher grades with an 'all or nothing, your target's B, you're doing Higher' approach.

Just goes to show that one system is never ever going to suit everybody...

ravenAK Fri 07-Dec-12 20:08:51

Grimma, we do very very nicely on A/A* & Ebacc too.

Trust me, there's a lot of clever people putting a lot of hours in as to how to play these stupid games to best effect.

I completely agree with you that it serves schools first & children second.

(& teachers last, definitely - I don't know very many who wouldn't far rather just 'get on and teach the subjects properly for the full time')

frankinsensible Fri 07-Dec-12 20:13:22

At the options evening in yr 8 we were given a list of 4 to choose 2 from and told that ds would take the GCSE in his two chosen subjects, as long as he seemed able. He would also of course continue with core subjects, maths english and science.
We then went on a fairly confusing conveyor belt of quick meetings with subject teachers. We were told he had been identified for the 'triple science route' but there was no in-depth explanation of what that meant and I am ashamed now to think how passive we were, just sitting and nodding as they all told us what a model pupil ds was, as if it was still primary school. Apparently the 'triple science' involves taking the combined science GCSE in yr 9 and then concentrating on the separate 3 science subjects in the following years.

I felt pretty relaxed about the idea of him taking the exams in his option subjects, both the subject teachers seemed to feel he would have no trouble but I can see I wasn't thinking clearly, just going with the flow and now I feel i've let him down. It was not explained to us that he could end up taking 4 GCSE's and there has been nothing in writing. I also don't see how he can have the depth of knowledge in the language to get a good GCSE grade and presumably there won't be any space in the curriculum next year for him to continue with it if he doesn't take the exam.

Grimma you are quite right, I can just sense that I'm going to have to get in a battle with them about it and it feels pretty daunting - I have no real understanding of the jargon teachers use and no knowledge of the plan for yrs 10 and 11.

chloe74 Fri 07-Dec-12 20:30:04

ravenAK - I completely agree with you about the perverse incentive and that teachers don't do it by choice. As a parent however we have to fight the teacher to overcome that incentive to get the best for our children. Almost a lose lose situation sad

Its my understanding that a parent can refuse to permit a child to sit the exam at Y9 or Y10 the school has a legal obligation to continue teaching English etc. then at Y11 you can sit the exam at a different center if needed.

I would also raise this issue with the board, making it very clear that you will be meeting with the Ofsted inspectors at the next visit and expressing your horror. I wonder could this matter be raised with the education department, a visit to your MP would also me worth while.

frankinsensible Fri 07-Dec-12 20:45:37

At the last Ofsted inspection in March this year they were apparently full of praise for this system!

webwiz Fri 07-Dec-12 21:09:45

What grade did the school get frankinsensible? DSs school was inspected by OFSTED in October and they were graded outstanding. The school makes it very clear that they do not like early entry for GCSEs and OFSTED were very happy with that.

chloe74 Fri 07-Dec-12 21:26:47

If Ofsted liked that system I can only imagine it was because no parents told them how much they hated it. If they did I am sure it would make for a different report...

frankinsensible Fri 07-Dec-12 21:52:24

The were graded 'Good' overall webwiz - they said they school needed to accelerate improvement in mathematics and english and 'challenge' the more able students. The curriculum was rated 'outstanding'.

Interestingly part of the reason for the 'outstanding' rating was their observation that students had a lot of access to performing arts and that they had time one afternoon per week to pursue their particular areas of interest. In fact ds now does no performing arts - no drama, no music no dance and no Art, because everything has been pushed out to concentrate on the Option and Core subjects, and the Wednesday thing has been abandoned. According to Ofsted the feedback from parents was overwhelmingly positive.

webwiz Fri 07-Dec-12 22:00:29

Bit of spin going on there then frankinsensible - I think if your DS is generally happy with school then you just need to keep yourself well informed about what he's doing and when so you can support him (which I'm sure you are doing anyway). He doesn't know any other way of taking exams so he'll just go with the flow even if its done differently in other schools.

frankinsensible Fri 07-Dec-12 22:32:50

Yes he is happy there webwiz - I know it would be damaging to move him so there's not a lot I can do but I will make an appointment to talk someone at the school about it and at least see exactly what will happen if it all goes wrong with the science and english. Really appreciate your advice and that of everyone else who has taken the trouble to answer. smile

Astelia Sat 08-Dec-12 14:01:26

My DDs' doesn't enter anyone early for GCSEs except if someone is fluent in a language then they can sit that and get it out of the way.

Some uni courses and some companies offering scholarships through uni will expect lots of A* at GCSE, as well as As at AS. I do wonder if some schools are aware of this when they let students sit early and get low grades.

Do the independents let students sit early and get low grades? no. So why is it good enough for other students?

OP I would be camping on the HT's front step to get my DC entered in Y11 for exams. I would offer to pay and enter them as a private candidate if the school won't agree.

frankinsensible Sat 08-Dec-12 20:45:40

I've sent an email to the English teacher to ask for a meeting about it. I have decided that of the two non-option GCSE subjects it is English that is likely to have the worst outcome and is of least benefit for him to take early. At least with the science, if he scrapes a C he can then go on to study the sciences separately so should get more depth in them and possibly get three good GCSE's. With the English all he can do is retake so it is really pointless.

I need to bear in mind that ds has very good relationships with his teachers, he likes and respects them which is obviously not something I want to damage. If I start with the subject teacher and then work my way up to more senior level it won't look as though I'm barging in over their heads.

BooksandaCuppa Sat 08-Dec-12 21:08:23

Agree with others, almost no independents or grammars do early GCSEs (except things like native languages or music for high fliers) and certainly not unless an A* is predicted. I think that says a lot about whether it's a good idea.

The other thing to bear in mind is the jump to A Level. One of the local 'weak' comps does Eng Lit at end of yr10 and is happy for their best students to only attain a grade B. These students are then going onto stronger schools for sixth form and sitting in A Level Eng Lit classes with other students who've achieved an A* that summer, compared to their own B a whole year and a bit ago. You can guess who finds the already big jump to A Level the easiest...

frankinsensible Sat 08-Dec-12 21:26:36

That's a very good point Books - hadn't even thought that far. The strongest schools in our area don't take exams early either and I think that is the crux of the thing actually. DS' school is in a difficult area and they have been highly praised for helping to raise the aspirations of kids (and their families) who have often had a pretty awful start in life, coming from backgrounds where getting an education is still seen as a mug's game.

I think a lot of the reasoning behind the early exam thing is to focus attention on the importance of getting qualifications before they get to an age where they just start to drift away.

ashley69ly Sun 09-Dec-12 09:08:40

At my DDS' school they start their GCSE's in Y9 but don't complete any until the end of Y11. My DD sat some modular exams starting in Dec of Y10 but still had modules to sit at the end of Y11 so she studied all her subjects for the whole 3 years. Because they had the extra time it meant that DD could continue with more subjects. DD is very academic and under the old system would have been restricted to fewer, more academic subjects. Under this system she could continue with some other subjects that she really enjoyed. She ended up with 12 GCSE's at great grades and was able to have a good balance of subjects rather than having to narrow her focus down at the start of Y10.

prettydaisies Sun 09-Dec-12 12:09:07

My DD did all her exams at the end of Yr 11. One thing that I noticed compared to her friends at other schools was the amount of teaching she got. Because she didn't do modules at any other time, she was taught for all of Y10 and most of Y11. The other thing that worries me about early entry is if you want to do the subject for A level. You may well have a year 'off' of that subject. A levels are hard enough without you having forgotten some of the subject.

freerangeeggs Sun 09-Dec-12 17:48:55

Tell them to get stuffed, he's not ready and he's not doing it.

This isn't for your son's benefit, as you know. It's so that the school can bank as many Cs as possible to buoy up their position in the league tables.

freerangeeggs Sun 09-Dec-12 17:54:21

I'm a teacher and this has just made me really angry, which is why I'm posting again. If it was my son I'd be laying down the law about this. He's got a condition that's aggravated by stress and they're stressing him out with unnecessary exams that he's not ready to sit?? If I was his class teacher I'd be making a stand about this too, it's not acceptable at all.

So much for individualised learning.

GRRRR I need to get out of this frigging country!!

Dromedary Sun 09-Dec-12 18:22:20

It sounds insane to me - so he'll probably end up with 1) worse grades (and universities now definitely look at gcse grades when making offers), 2) the best universities will disregard the gcses that he took early, so he won't get in to them; 3) he could have a 2 year gap between a gcse and starting an A'level course in the same subject, 4) he's likely to have the joy of doing badly in some gcses and having to re-take, 5) years of worrying about exams and missing out on the time off work subjects.
I would think that your best hope as an individual is to see your GP and get evidence that this will be to his disadvantage because of his disability.
For those who want to try to improve the system for everyone, I would set up a meeting for the parents of all the children affected by this, having circulated ahead of the meeting all the evidence on the harm that this system does. If the school faces a revolt from dozens of parents, it's just possible it might consider changing the system, though presumably not from one day to the next. You could also go to the local paper, etc.

frankinsensible Sun 09-Dec-12 18:40:08

Good advice re the GP, I will keep that in reserve if I need it.

freerange - you are a teacher so hopefully you can tell me - what rights do I have to refuse to allow them to put him in early?

As I posted previously, I'm in a tricky position. If ds was unhappy there I wouldn't hesitate to move him but actually he really likes the school, the teachers and doesn't have a problem with being put in for the exams as he has been sold the line by the teachers that this is something for the 'top' set and therefore a bit of an ego boost. He's only 13 so has no real understanding of the possible consequences.

I have not encountered any real opposition to this system from other parents - a little bit of grumbling about pressure but otherwise they all seem to accept it as the norm.

twoterrors Sun 09-Dec-12 21:47:02

This is how schools do it - they flatter children and parents. Bright children do not need a string of Cs and Ofsted has said it will be critical if early entry means they are not getting As and A*s.

Honestly, make a fuss. Ask the school why they are ignoring the evidence and ignoring what the DfE and Ofsted say. And make sure other parents know the consequences, as set out by Dromedary.

freerangeeggs Sun 09-Dec-12 23:09:28

Frankinsensible, as far as I'm aware you have every right. He's your child.

EllenJaneisstillnotmyname Sun 09-Dec-12 23:52:57

Frankin, I'd agree that early Eng Lit seems completely counter intuitive.

With the sciences, I think it's a bit different. My DS is in Y10 and is doing triple science as far as I understand, single combined science, one GCSE worth, is P1 (Physics), C1 (Chem) and B1 (Bio). Your grade would be eg, A* or B etc. Double science, which is combined plus additional usually, two GCSEs worth, is P1, P2, C1, C2, B1 and B2. Grades are A/A or A*/A etc. Triple science is P1, P2, P3, C1, C2, C3, B1, B2 and B3. Counts as 3 GCSEs, one each in Physics, maybe grade A, Chemistry, maybe grade B and Biology, maybe A*. So doing the single science this year is just doing the 1st modules in each science. By the end of Y11 he'll have taken all the modules and will have 3 individual GCSEs.

But, at some point soon, taking these GCSE exams separately over a few years will not be allowed and all the exams, all 9 modules in triple science, will have to be taken at one time, not allowing you to bank the previous results to be added together. I would find out whether this single combined science GCSE will count towards his triple science GCSEs or whether he'll have to take those modules again. Which would be a waste of time...

frankinsensible Mon 10-Dec-12 00:10:51

If they change the rules on taking the exams separately wouldn't they have to allow those already started on the process to complete it Ellen?

frankinsensible Mon 10-Dec-12 00:11:38

Thanks for that very detailed response btw - I had to read it a few times but it's helped to get it clearer in my head!

lljkk Mon 10-Dec-12 07:52:03

Thanks for the detailed explanation, EllenJane. That is pretty much how I thought it all worked.

I think the new all final exams at the end system isn't due to come in until at earliers for Sept. 2013 starters, if it comes in at all. And I hate it. If I could find activist parents I'd be camping somewhere to protest against the change to the system most of you prefer.

Something I like about the focus on getting GCSE options out of the way early is that it means immersed teaching instead of a scattergun approach. So they get a proper strong foundation, intense focus, rather than dribs and drabs of teaching over several years. Which is poorly retained & never makes any of it seem important. Until the end (maybe).

If my teens are like I was (& my peers) they will have up and down times. Unpredictably. They might be more focused & diligent at 13-14 than at 15-16 (or any other age). So get a better result if completing the GCSE at 13-14. By spreading exams out the risk of that is somewhat reduced, it's not like they HAVE to be on the ball at age 15-16, and particularly focused in April-June of year 11. If they have a crisis in personal life at that point, at least they could have some GCSEs in the bank from earlier years.

DS hates languages. He should be good at them (DS excels at English & DH & I are reasonably proficient at languages). But the scattergun approach (4 lessons in French & 2 in German every fortnight) confuses him. Near daily lessons would make him focus & actually get the hang of one of the languages. He'd have a definite target to work towards and focus on, grit his teeth about learning for just one year, it even if he didn't enjoy.

Could say the same for DS attitude towards several other core subjects.

If the exam only mattered at end of y11 he'd doss about & not give a toss until last minute (after all, homework is meaningless). So he'd end up getting a worse result.

People on MN are so bloody obsessed about their DC getting results that "top universities" want. Like any other path in life is written off. And then admin officers for those "top unis" come on to explain the considerations they make are actually quite nuanced, after all. Plus the plethora of MNers who find their kids aren't getting those top results after all, even in the all-end-exam system.

Muminwestlondon Mon 10-Dec-12 08:13:40

At the moment my 13 year old daughter has one and a quarter hours of Spanish, 4 times a week and one and a quarter hours of RE 4 times a week because she HAS to do GCSEs in both this year - year 9.

She has no interest in RE but the GCSE is compulsory in her school in year 9 - it is not a religious school. She does the core subjects of English, Maths and Science.

She does no music, DT art, drama, history or Geography because those options are not open to her in year 9. If she wants to do them she will do them as one year courses similar to the RE and Spanish she is doing now.

I do not consider this a rounded education, it seems to reduce most subjects to doing a short course which is completely taught to the exam. Of course secondary education is about passing exams (and by the way my elder DD did all her exams in year 11 and got all A* and A), but surely it is about balance on the way, not just tick boxes.

webfizzystuff Mon 10-Dec-12 08:14:39

Actually lljkk the changes apply to the current year 10s so exams taken after 2013.

I think your posts illustrates absolutely everything that is wrong with so much focus on exams - kids have completely lost the point that you just sometimes "learn" things at school and you shouldn't have to have the push of an exam to make you focus.

My DCs experience is similar to mine (apart from the relentless intrusion of controlled assessments) which is a gradual building of skills over 5 years, you do your homework, you do class tests and then at the end when you are old enough to get that the exams are important you revise and prepare for them. Then if you want to take a subject to A level you have a solid foundation of knowledge to build on.

HSMM Mon 10-Dec-12 08:36:45

DD is in yr 9 and the school have made it clear that she will not be entered early for her GCSEs unless (1) She is ready and wants to (2) We want her to and (3) The school think she is going to get the best result she would be able to get. She has started ICT, Maths, English and Science.

throckenholt Mon 10-Dec-12 08:49:59

>kids have completely lost the point that you just sometimes "learn" things at school and you shouldn't have to have the push of an exam to make you focus.

that is the fundamental point. I am sure when I was at school (grammar school in the early 80s) we didn't think about O level exams until maybe the 5th year. For the first 3 years we did the subjects we all did. Year 4 we got to choose the ones we liked (or were best at) for O level (or drop the ones we hated). I don't remember exams being that big an issue. We did have end of year exams every year which tested what we had learnt that year. The emphasis was on learning - not on the final exam at the end.

If schools are now so focussed on the final exam haul for each child, and the actual value of learning is lost along the way then we have a very bad system.

School as I remember it was a mix of putting up with those subjects you didn't enjoy and looking forward to those you did enjoy - all in the same week. If I had been forced to have 5 hours of RE a week, and only be allowed to study a language for a year (albeit intensively) I would have hated it. I don't see that that system would be right for more than a very small minority.

Whatever happend to the aspiration of a "rounded education". You don't need to have exams to prove it if you produced people who patently have a rounded education.

lljkk Mon 10-Dec-12 09:25:21

That's interesting what Webfizz said: because I specifically asked when touring secondaries for DD 2 months ago about how do they schedule GCSEs. Nobody said the schedule would be changing for her year group, but maybe the plans weren't confirmed, then.

I'm glad you guys have so much positive to say about what I consider a loony system. Since it seems like we won't have any choice about it. At least before there was an element of choice.

I think most people, and certainly modern teens, are more motivated by extrinsic rewards than learning for the sake of learning.

I have no doubt that DSs will have a poorer learning experience & poorer results under the (now confirmed and definite??) changes. DD was always going to learn for learning's sake, anyway.

mercibucket Mon 10-Dec-12 09:49:52

In general, girls do better under a system of continuous assessment and boys do better under an 'all or nothing' final exam system, so I'd worry more about your dd than your ds under the new system, lljkk

throckenholt Mon 10-Dec-12 10:00:50

>mercibucket - that is the reason commonly given for girls doing consistently better than boys in the UK education system over the last 20 years or so.

I would be interested to know the psychology behind it.

lljkk Mon 10-Dec-12 10:03:49

You don't know my DD wink. She might turn anorexic under the huge final stress, but she'll apply self-discipline all the way thru.

Meantime, the boys will turn out a minimum standard of work and barely pay attention until the last minute when they truly accept & agree it matters. Then they'll be so overwhelmed with the deficits in their knowledge in so many areas that they won't think they can do it, so easier to just give up and go into the Army instead.

creamteas Mon 10-Dec-12 10:32:43

Unfortunately under the current changes I think Schools will be forced to either cut down on the subjects or use early entry more.

When I was at school the 'norm' was 8 subjects at O level and most had 2 papers at the end so about 16 papers sat in total. At my school we had early entry for English Langauge and Maths (sat in Nov year 11) to try to spread them out a bit

Currently many DC are taking 10-12 GCSEs, and even if all of those had just 2 papers that is 20-24 papers in one exam session. The sudden change pushed through by Gove to only allow terminal exams has meant no time to change the curriculum so GCSEs designed for modular assessment now just have their exams at the end.

So either we need to stop Dc studying so many subjects (and many MN comments scorn at taking less than this, with unfounded warnings that universities will look down on such candidates) or accept that early entry is a way to cope.

Muminwestlondon Mon 10-Dec-12 11:10:37

I agree that the young are forced to do too many subjects, 8 or 9 should be the max as it was in my day. In my elder DD's school she had to do English lang/English Lit, maths, all 3 sciences, one humanity, one IT subject, one MFL. She had to do two more and did Art and Latin. Thankfully the school saw sense and made statistics optional in her year (now dropped altogether). She could easier have done without art and IT for example.

She did them all in the summer of year 11, apart from the paper 1 in the sciences which they sat in the January and components of English were spread over two years. The school is a so called super-selective.

Muminwestlondon Mon 10-Dec-12 11:13:19

By the way, I don't think she would have benefitted from early entry. I think she may have benefitted from longer exams - the Latin ones were 4 x 45 mins for example and History was also chunked up into 3 exams I think, so they seemed to go on for ever.

lljkk Mon 10-Dec-12 11:32:28

Creamteas says that early entry will still be possible? So are firm strict changes being imposed from above or not? confused

creamteas Mon 10-Dec-12 12:39:31

As far as I know there is no plans to ban early entry. The only restriction is that exams will be in the summer series (apart from English & Maths I think)

So schools will still be able to enter students in years 9 & 10 (or even earlier!)

lljkk Mon 10-Dec-12 13:15:20

Ah, so (I should have kept my mouth shut on entire thread?) our schools will probably keep current programme but with no January entries. This might be good thing because of the variation in exam board marking (this year) between Jan & June exam entries. At least schools can't get caught out in that way, again.

twoterrors Mon 10-Dec-12 13:15:39

The firm change is to the modules I think. All will have to be sat at the end, but they are not reducing the number of them. As I understand the system, this will have a big effect on the sciences in particular.

mercibucket Mon 10-Dec-12 13:38:49

The theory with boys vs girls is actually kind of as lljkk describes her children. Girls work hard consistently and so benefit from coursework and modular work. In situations where there is just one final exam, they are more likely to play safe, hence getting good but not outstanding marks.
Boys are lazy and so leave everything to the last possible minute. They don't pay as much attention to coursework and prefer to do sudden last minute revision. Therefore they either crash and burn or take more risks on answers - so you get boys scoring more at both top and bottom ends of the scale.

That's the theory, don't bite my head off for the blatant stereotyping everyone!

throckenholt Mon 10-Dec-12 13:49:37

If I remember rightly from my school days - the girls all worked hard and did well at o level, then relaxed a bit and did relatively less well at A-level, whereas the boys mostly screwed up their o levels (through lack of work), scraped into doing a levels then knuckled down and did well with their a levels. So maybe that is the same process as you describe.

I have 3 boys - I can see it is goign to be fun getting them to get on with studying.

<I was the world's worst reviser so they don't even get good genes from me !>

EllenJaneisstillnotmyname Mon 10-Dec-12 23:00:20

I think one of the big differences with the summer exams only is that you can't take them early and then retake them and choose the higher mark. Often DC took the exams in the Jan, then again in the June. They can still take them a year early, but then can't bank this result and take them again, hoping for a higher grade.

lljkk Tue 11-Dec-12 07:27:45

Every year the local High School & college publish pictures of their very highest achievers, the ones who get all As/A*s (GCSE) or who get (provisional) acceptances to Oxbridge.

The impression I get is that in both photos, the ratio of girls:boys is 3.5:1.
Maybe the boys are just camera shy.

DS art teacher (male) said that he has never had a boy get above an A at GCSE art, too.

suec4075 Wed 12-Dec-12 17:15:35

Can anyone tell me whether it is true that those children that sat their GCSE triple science early (my son is currently year 10) will not finish the final units (7 & 8) but instead sit 3 exams per subject plus practicals for each subject in year 11 (June 2014) and that those units they have already done don't count for anything? Because if that is true my son will have wasted nearly two years having already gained A's, B's and one C in units 1-6 in Biology, Physics & Chemistry. His School don't seem to know what is going on as each week we are told something different!!

webfizzystuff Wed 12-Dec-12 18:14:08

suec4075 the exam board websites have information on the changes but I think that if your DS is taking the final exams in 2014 then he has to take the new exams. His previous exams only count if the qualification is finished in 2013.

www.ocr.org.uk/images/71509-gcse-science-the-move-to-linear-specifications.pdf

"These changes will affect all candidates starting two year courses in September 2012. This change does not affect candidates who started a two-year course in September 2011, or those starting a one-year course in September 2012. However, Year 9 students who started a three-year course in September 2011 will be affected."

frankinsensible Wed 12-Dec-12 18:15:06

Sympathise with that sue, as mentioned in my OP we have been given conflicting info on re-takes.

I emailed the DfE on Monday and asked them to clarify this situation with GCSE Science, haven't heard back yet. If I don't hear this week I will phone them. I agree it seems unbelievable that they would put all that work to waste rather than allow it to stand and apply any changes to those who are just starting on the process.

What have the school said?

EllenJaneisstillnotmyname Wed 12-Dec-12 18:17:57

Sue, I don't know for sure, but my DS is in Y 10 and doing triple science and we were told he couldn't do the modular course, he had to take all his exams at the end of Y11. Hopefully someone actually does know, as the schools don't seem to. sad

suec4075 Wed 12-Dec-12 18:23:42

Thankyou for your comment. Its a nightmare because he did so much revision before taking the exams and then did brilliantly and now it all counts for nothing. His School should never have entered them for the exams this early because so many failed that they are now being threatened with doing a Btec instead of the final exams!!

frankinsensible Wed 12-Dec-12 18:30:54

Thanks for that webfizz - needn't have bothered with the DfE!

suec4075 Wed 12-Dec-12 18:32:13

frankinsensible, the School are hopeless, I have been to see one of the Heads of subject and I honestly don't think he understood it because I asked if the results he had already gained counted and he said Yes. Then when searching the internet regarding this I found another local senior School had posted a letter on their website explaining the new system!! I have a good mind to forward that to my son's School!!

frankinsensible Wed 12-Dec-12 18:47:44

It's going to be quite a scandal I think sue. I feel so sorry for kids that have basically been caught in the war between schools and ministers, the speed of change to these exams has caught a lot of schools out. I think you should print that letter off and take it in.

suec4075 Wed 12-Dec-12 19:02:36

I may do that because the teacher I saw permanently looked like a rabbit caught in headlights when we were in the meeting! I honestly believe that they should have been allowed to sit the last two units for each of the 3 Sciences. I do feel sorry for the children that failed but in the end I think it might work out better for them unlike my son and the small number of children that did well! I am so angry regarding this as my son's year were being used as guinea pigs by the School, they thought that if they started early and could just resit to get the grades the School wanted and now it has backfired big time!!

suec4075 Wed 12-Dec-12 19:04:35

Many thanks Webfizz that confirms what I had read on the other School's website...I'm absolutely gutted for my son and his friends.

frankinsensible Wed 12-Dec-12 19:17:23

Yes, that was the refrain I kept getting when I questioned taking exams so early: "he can always re-take if he fails". I am going in tomorrow to speak to the English teacher re ds being put in for Literature GCSE. After that I am going to get hold of the head of science and try to stop them putting him in for January exam. Don't know what sort of reception I am going to get though.

In your place I would be gutted too - how do the other parents feel?

suec4075 Wed 12-Dec-12 19:42:05

frankinsensible, I honestly don't think the other parents know. Since the new Headteacher took over it has been a shambles, she is all about how lovely the new buildings they moved into last year look and how pristine it needs to be kept and not about the children. Half the staff don't know what the hell is going on, at least three of the most experienced teachers are leaving. My son's year were called into a special assembly regarding the English exams, when some of the children started to ask questions about the fact they were being threatened with being changed to Btec Science instead of GCSE, the Science teacher I had the meeting with was called in, my son said "Mum I honestly don't think he knew the answer to any of the questions he was asked"...what chance do they have??

circular Wed 12-Dec-12 20:33:17

mumsneedwine - Where does it state about the 6 or 8 GCSE's in a single sitting for RG Unis. I couldn't find it in the informed choices booklet. A bit alarming if they only take 9 in total, including 2 a bit early, and also some modular.

frankinsensible - Shocked at the idea of Eng Lit earlier. Have heard of quite a few doing Lang in yr10 & Lit in yr11, as DD1's school does. Not grerat, but better that way round.

BooksandaCuppa Wed 12-Dec-12 20:52:39

Yep, I know of one or two of our weaker/11-16 only schools doing Eng LIt in yr 10. They're just happy to get Cs. Don't give two hoots about kids wanting to take it for A Level a whole year and a half later.

frankinsensible Thu 13-Dec-12 10:36:07

Agree circular, Eng Lang early makes slightly more sense to me than Eng Lit but either in Yr 9 seems completely ridiculous. Just hoping I can hold my own against the English teacher later on.

lljkk Thu 13-Dec-12 10:44:16

I think it's a decision set course by course, Uni by Uni, Circular. And actually there probably is a lot of flexibility for admissions officers. I wonder, do any schools really schedule the completion of just 4 GCSEs/year, as implied above, for children otherwise in the top 50% ability wise?

Liverpool Physiotherapy requires 6 in one sitting;
Loughborough (NOT RG, btw) requires 5 in one sitting.

throckenholt Thu 13-Dec-12 10:49:19

What is the bar to resists at the moment for these current exams ? Is it that they keep tabs on who has taken the exam and you are only allowed to do it once or is it that the school will only fund on sitting ?

If it is the second, and the school is at fault in their previous advice, then I think you maybe have a case for demanding that resits are paid for for those for whom it is relevant.

Generally though - I am against the resit culture - people shouldn't be able to keep banging away at an exam until the finally scrape a pass. It devalues the exam and does nothing for self confidence. Only take the exam when you are ready to do reasonably well at it.

circular Thu 13-Dec-12 11:11:19

lljkk - For loughborough, I could only see the 5 in one sitting for irish highers. The Liverpool Physio one is interesting, as the 6 in one sitting looks like it includes Eng Lang & Maths so any that took those early and are happy with their grade, would not be eligible unless they resit.

I wonder also how x in one sitting applies to modular?

If they don't count as a single sitting, my yr11 DD will only be taking 3 or 4 complete GCSEs in May/June 2013.
No early options, just science x 3 and geog are modular. Eng Lang & Maths early. So only 4 modules and all of Eng Lit, French & Music (=3) left. Will be 4 if linear maths resit needed.

frankinsensible Thu 13-Dec-12 12:34:24

sue - could they complete the exams in 2013 before the changes come into effect?

Chandon Thu 13-Dec-12 12:57:07

Wow, I am so naieve thay I am actually shocked by this thread!

I am starting to ny trust schools at all!

Anyway, forwarned is forearmed or something.

Hope you can change it, OP

lljkk Thu 13-Dec-12 13:04:26

Ah, thanks Circular. That just shows how hard it is to find any firm official demand that GCSEs must be sat all together. Lots of statements about A-levels must be taken together, though, in university admission guidelines, I guess that is more strictly enforced.

I don't feel very comfortable with demanding that school pays for resits after failure. We the taxpayer would end up funding it, and the affected parents would have to take schools to small claims court or other tribunal to keep it enforced. Maybe to protect their budgets schools would resort to spending money to drill the lowest achieving cohort to pass math+english+basic sciences and offer fewer options to everyone.

Not sure what folk mean by "no resits". Resits for GCSEs makes sense to me. It's a threshold test, you've met these criteria at this time. That's why it's not normalised & pass rates go up over time, as schools get more cunning about ensuring passes (that's what humans do, we figure out how to do the same thing even better than we used to do it). If university admissions don't want to accept resits so be it, but don't see why that should ban schools from offering resits.

If you want to keep pass rates static then must go back to normalised results like O-levels were. Then the result won't be about whether you meet a certain standard on a certain date, but about your percentile position.

I'm under impression that Gove is not advocating a return to normalised results/percentile position determines mark. So there's every reason to expect GCSE pass rates to continue to rise.

frankinsensible Thu 13-Dec-12 16:59:42

Feeling a bit better after going in to the school. The English teacher says ds can withdraw from the exam group and go into the next set down, take Eng Lit in yr 11. Makes more sense to me tho ds not happy about it.

The science is also better than it looked when I first posted. If he fails the module in Jan he can re-take in may/june with the other elements of the exam. If he does reasonably well in this exam he will be put into the triple science group who will take all three in yr11. This is a new change to the science pathway and I feel a lot more comfortable with it. I did ask what was the benefit in taking an exam which would then become void if he takes the triple GCSE's but they seem wedded to the idea of learning how to cope with taking exams by...taking exams.

creamteas Thu 13-Dec-12 17:52:45

The way I understood it was , there will be no modules so resisting part of the assessment will go.

But students will be able to retake the whole qualification. For most subjects it will be a 12 month wait as I think it is only English and Maths that will have alternatives to the summer.

webfizzystuff Fri 14-Dec-12 10:51:11

Glad you are feeling a bit happier about it all now frankinsensible smile

glaurung Fri 14-Dec-12 11:49:39

retaking the whole qualification in science can mean a lot of different things since the units combine in different ways to make different 'whole qualifications'.

The basic units of each science combine to make a 'core science' qualification - so this could still be done earlier.

The intermediate units of each science combine to make 'additional science' (which again could be done early) and this is as high as many children who don't do triple science take it.

The hardest units can on some boards (and more are setting this up) combine to make 'further addional science' (or somesuch). If all these three GCSEs are taken it is the SAME as doing Physics, Chemistry and Biology separately (although the GCSEs you get are named differently).

It's also possible for schools to sit say Biology in year 9, Chemistry in year 10 and Physics in year 11 (or any variant of this, that may start in year 9 or 10) if they wish to avoid doing all the exams at the end and don't want to go down the 'further additional science' route.

frankinsensible Fri 14-Dec-12 12:58:59

Thanks webfizz, you've been very helpful on here and I appreciate it. Feels like quite a weight off my mind smile

At the meeting with his English teacher she had brought along the head of the dept. They said he is currently working at level C but target is a B. I was aghast to think they would settle for a B (which I very much doubt he would get anyway) for a student who is clearly going to be capable of an A/A* given more time. I felt a definite undercurrent that I was undermining ds's confidence by complaining - all very nicely done but definitely there. I did not seem to be able to get through to them that he is just not mature enough for the exam. Their point of view is that it is all about the confidence of the student.

There was no argument about moving him though, they said it was my decision to make which is good but then why not involve the parents at the beginning of the year when these decisions are being taken rather than wait until 2/3 months in to drop a bomb on them at parent's evening?

mumsneedwine Mon 17-Dec-12 10:16:53

Sorry circular, have been very busy at work.

If you look on page 17 it says "A number of institutions ask that grades and number of subjects are achieved at one sitting. Some do not accept 're-sits' at GCSE or standard level qualifications.'
The number required varies between Unis and even then by course. I have argued on several occasions that its not the students fault if taken at different times. It's not fair and some Admissions tutors are great - and some not.

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