GCSE taken in YR10 Maths and Science

(51 Posts)
sugarandsweet Tue 10-Sep-13 13:56:25

So my son who took Maths and science in year 10 got B's and C's when he was predicted A's and B's. I'm told by the science teacher its because the grade bandings have changed this year. She said he was 4 marks off an A but still got a C my first thought it how ridiculously tight that grading is but also why didn't the school make it clearer how the grading could change and affect a grade from a A to a C.

A very upset son going into year 11.

purpleroses Tue 10-Sep-13 14:06:40

That's worrying. My DS's school has just started preparing the top set to do maths a year early (DS is Y9) but I doubt they'll all get As. Is he able to re-do it this year? Seems unnecessary to entre a year young unless they're confident of an A.

lainiekazan Tue 10-Sep-13 14:12:04

Same here.

Ds got worse grades than predicted for GCSEs taken in year 10. He was only 14 when he took the exams and he is very despondent that his performance could affect his future chances.

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

They do it in units in his school. He's in the top set and like I say was predicted a's and b's but has come away with B's and C's.

He can resit but will have to take his science ones in June so will have an extra 3 exams on top of the ones he's already go to take.

sugarandsweet Tue 10-Sep-13 14:14:17

I don't agree with them being done early like this.

titchy Tue 10-Sep-13 14:36:41

Presumably it was Core Science that he took? I think that's quite common as it's the easiest paper, and means they don't have those three papers to do at the end of year 11 when they're doing the next three (or six if they do triple).

TBH the Core is the easiest paper and a student predicted a B should easily achieve an A for this one. Did he revise?

Doing Maths a year early is crap unless they are guaranteed at least an A, so sympathies....

I thought everything was linear now, so what do you mean they do them in units?

sugarandsweet Tue 10-Sep-13 15:20:08

he was predicted an A/B so should have achieved this. The science teacher put this down to the grade boundaries changing this year. He reckons he revised perhaps not enough.

They did their maths in units through year 10. 3 units. He wanted to do linear but was told he couldn't sad Not sure what is going to have with this mark or whether he'll be able to take again. I'll have to speak to his teacher.

feeling pretty overwhelmed at the moment tbh

Kez100 Tue 10-Sep-13 16:06:47

My son was the opposite!

Predicted a C and got a B (being made up of C internal work, B in Biology and Chemistry exams and A in Physics).

I think they were harder papers though - the questions required a lot more writing now than they did in my daughters time (in 2011!). He says he is currently being treated like God in his science set!

Kez100 Tue 10-Sep-13 16:08:46

He sat Foundation Maths and got the C - will do higher paper next year. He is pleased as this gets him out of the foundation sets which were driving him mad because he has suddenly improved a lot in Maths and was getting bored.

sugarandsweet Tue 10-Sep-13 16:13:57

Well done to him :-)

Kez100 Tue 10-Sep-13 18:36:40

Just asked him what revision resources he used for Science :

BBC Bitesize (for his exam board) and revision books for that exam paper syllabus (he thinks they were by Lonsdale but has given them back in so isn't sure). I have looked on Amazon and there are some Lonsdale ones, so he is probably right.

He said he didn't do any past papers (apart from in school in mock exams) because the new syllabus and written answers meant there weren't very many to choose from. At least for additional science next year there will be a couple more.

He thinks they have to sit all the exams for Additional Science next June, where he sat Chemistry and Biology Core Science in January 2013 and Physics in June 2013. He thinks that is why he did better - apart from Maths, he only sat Physics this summer.

poppydoppy Tue 10-Sep-13 18:42:44

With AQA you HAVE to do science GCSE in year 10

RaspberryLemonPavlova Tue 10-Sep-13 21:59:47

I thought with triple the two units for each subject had to be done in the same session, which usually results in six exams at the end of Y11. Although DS has a friend who has done Biology in units over Y9 and Y10, leaving 2 to do at the end of this year (he could do units because he started 2 years ago).

Double science seems to be an exam each year, but I didn't think it was compulsory.

DS did Maths (linear) this year and English Lit, and achieved his predicted grades. He's quite pleased to have those out of the way at the end of Y10.

bsc Tue 10-Sep-13 22:02:31

Havent' they done it early, so they can re-sit next year if necessary? confused I thought that was the whole point of doing them in Y10?

purpleroses Tue 10-Sep-13 22:12:29

Havent' they done it early, so they can re-sit next year if necessary? That's the thing though - I'd assume the do resit if they get a D or lower, but a C is a pass grade. That's all the school really needs them to get for their figures they publish.

But if the DC is looking at going on to university, especially if it's a competitive one, or to do something that requires good maths, then a C may well NOT be sufficient. It may not even be sufficient to get them onto the A levels they want to do.

OP - has anyone suggested to your DS that he redoes it next year?

Whathaveiforgottentoday Tue 10-Sep-13 22:22:44

The AQA grade boundaries have been put up a bit but this wouldn't have taken him from an A to a C so somebody must be confused on this. It may have meant a drop from B to C though.
You don't have to do the exams in year 10 but most schools do otherwise you end up sitting 6 exams in year 11 (or 9 if doing triple). To retake, he would need to retake all 3 exams plus the ISA.

WorrySighWorrySigh Tue 10-Sep-13 22:30:31

Even with good grades I would heartily recommend that any parent with a student having taken GCSE maths early look at how their son or daughter is going to continue moving forward with the subject if there is a possibility of taking Maths at A level.

Even if the school doesnt offer anything itself then do look at the possibilities of continuing studies as a twilight subject.

We have learnt this the hard way. DD took maths early and achieved an A but then only did statistics for a year before starting Maths A level. She struggled at AS and is now having to look at resits.

The school had intended that A grade students would resit to achieve A* but sadly the Maths teacher was asked to leave after having a massive temper tantrum at one of her resit classes.

longingforsomesleep Tue 10-Sep-13 23:10:41

Worry - that's exactly what happened with ds1. Did maths a year early and got an A. His set was expected to then start on AS maths. But he wanted to do a particular subject which he couldn't if he did AS maths so he took statistics in year 11 then started AS maths in year 12 (as he'd always planned to). Nobody warned us about the damage of effectively having a year off maths. He struggled and has ended up with a D for A level.

lainiekazan Wed 11-Sep-13 07:48:56

Same here, but the other way round.

Ds has done Statistics in Year 10, so a year off maths before Year 11. He regrets doing this as he would rather have concentrated on Maths and he struggled a bit with Statistics.

intitgrand Wed 11-Sep-13 08:50:37

The grade boundaries move every sitting to reflect how easy or difficult the paper is .A lot of work goes into standardising papers between boards and between sittings and this is why exam results take so long to come back.The teacher is talking rubbish and A should be just as easy to get whichever sitting

TallulahMcFey Wed 11-Sep-13 09:09:17

On the other hand, my daughter did GCSE maths in year 10 and got an A*, followed by AS in year 11, getting an A. Her school only put the top 12 children in for it early out of a year of 240 and they could only do AS if they got an A or A* at GCSE so at the time I was quite happy with it. The consequence was, that by the end of year 12 she had an A at A2, being one if her strongest subjects. However, when she applied to uni, the top unis (studying law) didn't count any subject any A levels not taken in one sitting towards their entry requirements meaning that she had to get a further AAA at A level (which luckily she did). With my next child, I would say not to take maths early as there is no benefit. I had considered it might be worth doing it early but holding back a module to complete in year 13 so the A level can only be cashed in, in that year and then qualify. All her year (I think) sat a science in year 10 and another at year 11. I don't know about resits but if in that situation I would pay for a result myself if I had to. I agree that top unis may well want a B at GCSE and it is definitely worth consideration.

FeetUpUntilChristmas Wed 11-Sep-13 09:28:01

This is why IMO taking exams early is just not worth it. My DD1 was top set for everything but the school didn't have a take early exams policy so she gained A* across the board in maths, stats and sciences. She was not ready in Y10 to take these exams and i am sure her grades would have been lower, she had the intelligence but not the confidence.

lainiekazan Wed 11-Sep-13 09:42:12

If I had 10 dcs I might just about get it right by the time the last one came to go through the school system.

I didn't want ds to do any GCSEs early, as he is the youngest in the year as well as having to do the GCSE in one year. I'm sure he could have done better if the exams he took had been taken in a year's time.

schilke Wed 11-Sep-13 12:19:38

Ds1 did AQA core science in June in year 10. His target was an A and he got C. He was very disappointed. He struggles with the ISAs. He was told in June his ISA was C, so he thought his target was in trouble. He hoped for a B. Last week he discovered his ISA was in fact D....this brought him down to a C overall. So close to a B.

He now thinks he can't do chemistry A Level because he's not good enough. He was only a couple of UMS points off an A for the chemistry paper, so I'm hoping he'll change his mind in time. His confidence is really dented and he thinks he won't hit any of his targets.

hellsbells99 Wed 11-Sep-13 12:42:10

At DD2's school, approx. 50 took maths at the end of year 10 (2 top sets). They will spend this year doing algebra etc ready for AS level in the 6th form. The remainder of her year are taking the gcse in November (including any retakes from the top 2 sets) so still early entry in year 11 - they will either retake, do statistics, do finance or if any want to carry on to AS level, they will do algebra etc. for the rest of the year.
I have just found out the DD2 will now be taking English Language this November due to the change removing the spoken controlled assessments (which they have already done) from their gcse if they take it next June. So some of you may have this to look forward to as well! Sciences she will not take until the end of year 11, although those doing double science have done the core science in year 10.

Kez100 Wed 11-Sep-13 12:46:22

I wouldn't be surprised if the ISA borderlines were quite high. My son got a C in ISAs but was told he could be a B (just) depending on borderlines - he got a mid-C which implies perhaps high borderlines on that bit.

I am thinking for my son (interested in Physics but has only done double science) maybe we get him a tutor in the summer after year 11 to work over the extra modules which triple scientists would have done, so he can start on an even playing field (if he gets a good additional science Physics grade)

friday16 Wed 11-Sep-13 14:55:22

The consequence was, that by the end of year 12 she had an A at A2, being one if her strongest subjects. However, when she applied to uni, the top unis (studying law) didn't count any subject any A levels not taken in one sitting towards their entry requirements meaning that she had to get a further AAA at A level (which luckily she did).

This. If you do things in advance and do not get an A*, you missed an opportunity for an A*. If you do things in advance and do get an A*, then there's a risk that it will be discounted. It's a lose-lose game.

One of my bugbears. Early entry is almost always for the school's benefit and not the child. GCSEs are designed for 16 year olds and most pupils will get a better grade if they wait until Y11.
Re-takes just add to the stress in Y11.
A friend's DD achieved a C in foundation Maths in year 10 and had been promised she could take higher paper in Y11. When she went back to school last week there was no maths on her timetable. The school decided that because she is borderline in English that she has to do extra English and can't do the promised Maths.shock

purpleroses Wed 11-Sep-13 17:24:53

Aren't they legally obliged to teach maths to all children of compulsory school age? They can't just decide to drop it for Year 11s can they?

Kez100 Wed 11-Sep-13 17:47:06

My daughter dropped Maths when she got a C to concentrate on English but it was her choice to do that and it worked - she got 2 x C grades in English and had been expected to get 2 x D . My son has done the complete opposite, has his C, and wants to concentrate on the best Maths result possible - even though he may well miss out on English at C. Being forced by school is terrible.

WorrySighWorrySigh Wed 11-Sep-13 17:47:41

purpleroses - I think they get round this by teaching statistics at least that is what was done for my DD

friday16 Wed 11-Sep-13 18:23:42

I think they get round this by teaching statistics

Seriously? There are schools which put people through Foundation GCSE at the end of Y10, and then teach GCSE Statistics rather than giving them a chance at Higher Tier? That's absolutely shocking. That's precisely the reason why Gove needs to put an end to early entry. The poor kids.

creamteas Wed 11-Sep-13 18:29:42

That's precisely the reason why Gove needs to put an end to early entry

In my DCs school, year 10 entry for Maths is common for top sets. But that gives them the chance to do FSMQ in Year 11 which is a great preparation for A level. Since this was introduced, it has significantly raised AS/A2 maths results (whilst those who can't cope haven't wasted an option).

Early entry can be of benefit, when it is used in the right way.

purpleroses Wed 11-Sep-13 22:36:49

But kez I think the school are still breaking the law by not teaching your DD maths in Y11 even if it was her choice.
Can see that teaching stats might be a get out for them but really seems that it's only in the DC's interest if they're confident of at least an A and they're going to do the advanced maths or AS in Y11

TheFallenMadonna Wed 11-Sep-13 22:44:48

It's standard practiceto enter students for Core Science in year 10 and Additional in year 11. The grade boundaries in all Science GCSEs, but particularly Core Science, were adjusted this year, and the national average percentage of A*-C went down significantly compared with last year. It wasn't a reflection of how hard the papers were (and yes, that does happen every year). The controlled assessments followed just the same format as last year, the demand was the same, and the grade boundaries were raised significantly. Ofqual sent a letter to all schools before the end of the summer term telling them to expect a decrease in grades. There is abolutely no pretence to criterion referenced grading any more. It isn't even norm referenced. It's political will referenced.

schilke Thu 12-Sep-13 08:25:40

That's interesting thefallenmadonna. We were told that it was the norm to do core science at the end of year 10. It's a shame now for ds1 as he has lost a lot of confidence....he didn't have that much to start with!

I just don't understand this messing around with grade boundaries. Why do they move them?!

titchy Thu 12-Sep-13 09:19:14

They move them because some years the exam is easier than in other years and it wouldn't be fair if it was much easier to get a high grade one year compared to the next.

noblegiraffe Thu 12-Sep-13 09:40:00

It is possible and indeed likely that it was harder to get a certain grade this year than previous years as Gove has been banging on at exam boards to make exams harder for some time now. Pass rates have correspondingly fallen (which he warned would happen a couple of years ago).

It's not true that schools just need to get kids a C and can then forget about them. If schools are not pushing bright kids to get top grades then this information will be available to parents in two ways. Firstly the value added score on the league table (1000 means the students did as well in their best 8 subjects as students of the same ability in a similar school). Secondly, the Department of Education has a website for each school (usually accessed by clicking the school name on the league table). This splits students into low, medium and high attainers by KS2 results, then shows what percentage of each of these groups made the expected progress at GCSE and what their average GCSE grade was. High attainers who are not pushed will not make the expected progress in maths or English and this will be obvious.

The Department of Education published a booklet with statistics showing it is damaging to students, including high attainers to push classes through early entry. Unfortunately, with Gove changing exams to linear and making them harder, a lot of schools gambled on pushing their Y10 cohorts through the modular exams early instead, while they were still available.

Kez100 Thu 12-Sep-13 09:50:39

When I asked why Core was being sat in Year 10 and Additional in Year 11, I was told that it meant the exams could be sat:

January 2013 x2
June 2013 x1
June 2014 x3

They felt that the ability to learn and be almost immediately tested on that work, while only revising for a small number of exams at one time, would outweigh the advantage of being older which was the other option which came with a major disadvantage - all 6 exams in one go in June 2014 at the same time as all their other exams. I can see the argument.

These new exams are definitely harder than they were in 2011. I saw so many past papers for my daughter because she asked me to mark them for her. Her brother is much, much better at Science than she is - coming into Primary they were level 4c and level 5b. However, it is looking like their results will be pretty close at CC and BX.

titchy Thu 12-Sep-13 09:59:24

They can't do that now Kez as there are no January exams. But core/additional is structured so that core is a one year course with the exam taken at the end of year 10, and additional also a one year course that builds on the work done in core and is thus taken at the end of year 11.

I think some exam boards do not allow all 6 exams for double science to be taken at the same time, but cold be wrong!

SoupDragon Thu 12-Sep-13 10:03:16

I've never understood why they do this TBH. Surely it puts unnecessary stress on the child and they are likely to get a worse grade than if they sat it at the proper time.

DSs attend an academically selective private school and I am 99% certain they don't do early entry.

noblegiraffe Thu 12-Sep-13 10:11:15

My school got slated by Ofsted a few years ago because we weren't pushing the brightest students, and one of the criticisms was that they were only sitting the same GCSEs as the less academic. It was then changed so that top set maths sat two GCSEs, but to fit this in, one has to be taken early. A school that doesn't put its top set through maths and statistics, or additional maths, or AS level early is not doing its job properly according to the powers that be.

friday16 Thu 12-Sep-13 12:14:00

"I think some exam boards do not allow all 6 exams for double science to be taken at the same time, but could be wrong!"

My younger will be doing all nine shock papers of triple science in one session this coming summer. The school's logic is that revision for C3, P3 and B3 rolls up a lot of the preparation for the preceding papers, so it's less work to do the whole lot at once. As this is the first cohort to do this, we shall see how it works out.

friday16 Thu 12-Sep-13 12:25:23

"DSs attend an academically selective private school and I am 99% certain they don't do early entry."


One of the things I get really exercised about is the constant whining that private school pupils are disproportionately likely to get into selective universities, even if you control for parental income, education and support (anecdotally, this problem is actually worse in RG universities, where it's a dirty secret, as compared to Oxbridge, where it's at least out in the open). The reason is often, so far as I can make out, that private school pupils take the right number of GCSEs and A Levels in the right subjects at the right time, while too many pupils in the state system do too many of the wrong subjects at the wrong time. A privately educated applicant will have a row of eight or ten core academic subjects at A and A*, with the GCSEs taken at the end of Y11 in one block (often linear) and the A2s taken at the end of Y13. No retakes, at least one MFL, everything either on the "generally acceptable" or "facilitating" list, no complex dance of "equivalent qualifications", no confusion between Music (fine) and Music Tech (not so fine), etc, etc.

In the 1970s, I went to a rough-ish comp and then a rough-as-you-like technical college. But my O Levels and A Levels are exactly the same subjects, from the same boards, probably at the same grades, taken at the same time, as had I gone to the most exotic of private schools. Had my parents spent money they didn't have, I'd have had a bit of a polish but, on paper at least, I'd be no different. That's absolutely not true today, and parents with academic children at state schools need to look very carefully at whether the exams their children are taking are actually the right ones.

TallulahMcFey Thu 12-Sep-13 14:29:17

Well said friday16.

purpleroses Thu 12-Sep-13 15:03:59

I wouldn't assume it's only states schools that do early entry - My DSC attend an academically selective private school, and it does put the top maths set in for GCSE a year early, but only if they get an A* in their mocks. Then then do Ad maths in Y11. Does seem a good system for the ones who can get an A* in Y10, but not for those who'd be getting Bs or Cs and might get a higher grade a year later.

TallulahMcFey Thu 12-Sep-13 15:18:04

And even then, I think only for those doing additional maths in year 11 to strengthen their ability for their Maths AS in year 12 (with there being a jump between GCSE and AS. There seems to be no benefit in sitting A2 maths early as far as I can see. My daughter got an A at A2 maths a year early but may have been an A* sat at the right time and the unis don't want them sat early, they want them taken in one sitting. I would imagine most children getting an A* at GCSE will carry on to do the A level and then all the timings are wrong. I will suggest that my next daughter takes nothing early, except science, which is a different system in that the core is year 10 and additional in year 11.

tiredaftertwo Thu 12-Sep-13 15:34:26

Very well said, Friday16.

As far as I can see this is the real scandal and I don't know why more people are not shouting about it. The universities have made it pretty clear what they want - any anyway people with degrees really should be able to work out that selection criteria for academically demanding courses with heavy workloads and lots of exams at the end might include, errr, evidence that student can cope with academically demanding courses etc etc.....I hope the various changes may help reduce the league tables pressure on schools, to the benefit of the children.

I think maths is a slightly different beast for those who can fairly easily get an A* in year 10, but even for maths, early entry should be treated with extreme caution and only done when a viable maths extension option is available for year 11 that is NOT AS maths, IMO. You could do some form of extension and then sit exams for that and GCSE at the end of year 11, but with all-terminal exams, that could be an awful lot of papers.

TheFallenMadonna Thu 12-Sep-13 18:54:48

Triple Science have to take all their exams this summer. No choice with terminal assessment of modules.

Core Science in year 10 is not early entry.

creamteas Thu 12-Sep-13 21:47:54

The reason is often, so far as I can make out, that private school pupils take the right number of GCSEs and A Levels in the right subjects at the right time

This is simply not true some private schools do this, but not all, just like some state schools do, and some do not.

I see hundreds of UCAS forms from a wide variety of schools, and there is huge variability in both the private and state school sectors.

To take it to the extreme, I live near a private school which does not teach biology at either GCSE or A level because it would counteract religious teaching on evolution!

friday16 Thu 12-Sep-13 22:11:55

To take it to the extreme, I live near a private school which does not teach biology at either GCSE or A level because it would counteract religious teaching on evolution!

But that, presumably, is not one of the schools accused of having a secret route into selective universities.

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