gcses in year 10

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

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

friday16 Thu 03-Oct-13 16:10:29

My children's school just announced to year 10 parents that all yr 10 pupils will be taking maths and eng lang gcse at end year 10, in order to try and prevent stress of doing all subjects at end year 11, and to teach to failings for resits if need be.

I'm not sure why you put scare quotes around "evidence": both Ofsted Report and the DfE Report are fairly serious pieces of work.

The question is: will someone who gets a B at the end of Y10 be supported to get an A or A* at the end of Y11? And if they are, what was the point in taking it early anyway?

The school also appears to have been failing to read the newspapers, because this is precisely the behaviour that the government is clamping down on, so the school will be reducing its league table results to no good purpose. Ofsted are now asking deep and searching questions about early entry (early entry for English, in particular) and if the school doesn't have a good story it's grounds for strong criticism.

Note: universities don't give a toss when you did your GCSE Maths or English. Grade B is grade B is grade B. You don't get credit for doing it earlier.

There has been a huge trend for early entry in recent years. In my opinion it is very rarely in the child's best interest. GCSEs are designed for 16 year olds and all but a few would do better waiting until year 11.
It's not always a good idea for A* students. Both of mine did Maths in Year 10 and both got A*. In y11 they did statistics. This means that when they come to do A level they had been a year without doing maths.
I gather Gove's latest plan is to only count the grade achieved at the first sitting, this should deter blanket early entry.

<faints at prospect of agreeing with Michael Gove>

noblegiraffe Thu 03-Oct-13 16:27:56

This is a shit decision and should be challenged in the strongest terms. The DfE report examining the stats linked to above is very clear on this and should be presented to the school.

friday16 Thu 03-Oct-13 17:05:37

Both of mine did Maths in Year 10 and both got A. In y11 they did statistics. This means that when they come to do A level they had been a year without doing maths.*

There are claimed to be ways around this. There's the OCR (and other boards, I think) FSMQ in Additional Maths and I think there's now a GCSE in Additional (Further? Advanced? Something else?) Maths. So someone's who's done GCSE Maths in Y10 can do a linking qualification that leads into A Level. My children did/are doing the FSQM Ad Maths, and it's a reasonable qualification.

However, (a) the whole cohort didn't get A*, so those students who didn't are disadvantaged (b) there's nothing stopping the school from teaching GCSE in more depth over an additional year to secure more A*s and to provide a smoother link to AS (c) unless the school is impervious to new entrants, the A level group will contain people who didn't do the FSQM so C1 and C2 have to be taught from scratch anyway and (d) it's not as though C1 and C2 are that hard anyway. Better to have a very solid understanding of the GCSE material than a thin understanding of some other stuff that's going to be re-taught anyway.

friday16 I agree with all that you say but the school had no interest in doing FSMQ or additional maths (I asked). They don't have a sixth form so have no interest in how it affects teaching A level.
I didn't phrase it very well, my point was that early entry is not even advantageous for potential A* students. It only benefits the school.

ohnoimnot Thu 03-Oct-13 18:16:14

All Uni`s like children to do ALL the exams at the same time. I dont see the point in doing them early.

creamteas Thu 03-Oct-13 20:33:20

My DCs school does year 10 entry for English Lang and Maths. In year 11, if they have hit their target grades, they take English Lit and FSMQ. If not they resit. This works really well (and has improved A level Maths grades as well).

When they were just taken in year 11, they had a much higher rate of DC leaving school without either of them.

Early entry is a problem when it is only done for league table purposes is a bad thing, but not if it is run properly to enhance all students results.

urbancupcake Thu 03-Oct-13 21:07:12

Cant believe I'm agreeing with Gove too, but blooming great news. Am I right by saying that some Russell Group Uni's actually prefer/demand for some of their courses that all the GCSE's were taken at the same time to demonstrate they can handle the workload???

friday16 Thu 03-Oct-13 21:25:13

Am I right by saying that some Russell Group Uni's actually prefer/demand for some of their courses that all the GCSE's were taken at the same time to demonstrate they can handle the workload???

That's certainly true, in terms, for some medical schools. See, for example, Sheffield says "Our usual offer for subjects taken at A2 level is AAA and it is expected that these will be taken in one sitting.". It also says, more generally, "It is expected that all examinations be taken in one sitting, unfortunately we are unable to consider examinations taken early or resit examinations." but it's not clear if that relates to GCSEs.

In broad terms, a lot of GCSE early entry schemes in 11-18 schools are followed with three year A levels, starting the AS in Y11. That doesn't of necessity result in taking the AS and the A2 a year early, but that's the way it's usually sold to people.

EustonRoad Thu 03-Oct-13 22:38:33

My younger child did 2 GCSEs at the end of year 9, will sit 2 more in November and another 2 in summer do should have 7 by the end of year 10.

The other side of the coin is my elder child in a super selective who did 12 in one sitting - the pressure for a clean sweep of A or preferably A* was intense and several kids cracked up under the pressure. Then you get arrogant cunts like Gove saying how easy prays they all are - makes me sick.

My personal preference at the moment is spreading them. I don't necessarily agree grades will be lower because the teaching is intense - depends on the actual child. I think lower grades are a lesser evil than a nervous breakdown.

I

EustonRoad Thu 03-Oct-13 22:39:52

Stupid phone! 6 not 7 and easy peasy!

creamteas Fri 04-Oct-13 09:12:27

Am I right by saying that some Russell Group Uni's actually prefer/demand for some of their courses that all the GCSE's were taken at the same time to demonstrate they can handle the workload???

The vast majority of courses at RG university do not routinely asked for A levels to be taken at one sitting, this is only the position of a tiny minority

And of these, no one to my knowledge asks about the timing of GCSEs!

Apart from anything else, the majority of university degrees (even at RG unis) are modular with the degree result not just determined by the final year. So why on earth would they ask for something that they are not even practicing themselves!

friday16 Fri 04-Oct-13 09:14:03

The vast majority of courses at RG university do not routinely asked for A levels to be taken at one sitting, this is only the position of a tiny minority

But medicine has become the sine qua non of pushy parents, so that tiny minority has a disproportionate influence on some schools' thinking.

creamteas Fri 04-Oct-13 09:23:49

This thread is on GCSEs early entry.

What I was trying to say, without being too rude, is that your post was without any substance.

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

ErrolTheDragon Fri 04-Oct-13 09:37:37

>Cant believe I'm agreeing with Gove too, but blooming great news

yes - except (as per usual with him) its bounced in without allowing schools time to adapt. The OPs school will have already planned on this timing.

In her position though I'd be grilling the school. One question is how many subjects overall the kids are expected to do - as we're talking about university requirements, most seem to want ~8 solid passes rather than over a dozen. The way to reduce the stress of too many exams at once is (wait for this revolutionary concept!) for pupils to do a number they can cope with - which may be 11-12 for some but probably not for most.

I'm really glad my DDs school doesn't do any early entries.

noblegiraffe Fri 04-Oct-13 09:42:22

I suppose there is still a problem with those bonkers schools who spread GCSEs from Y9 to Y11. They won't care that it's only the first result that counts for the league tables because they don't enter for resits anyway, and just lumber their kids with a (bigger) set of lower grades.

Kez100 Fri 04-Oct-13 09:53:21

My view is that Gove hasn't a clue. Early entry is chosen per student can be good for them.

It gives children who are A* candidates in year 10 a chance to bag a grade and move on to much higher work and sit a further higher exam in year 11. It allows candidates who will be happy with a C grade to bank it and concentrate on other subjects that matter more to them. It gives the school an understanding of where the child is in terms of grade (important when the Government keep changing borderlines on a whim, teachers can better predict if they have some real evidence of grade) and it allows schools to use the current syllabus not one which the Government have decided will be changed in the middle of teaching it! (i.e this years, year 11s whose speaking and listening exam work completed in year 10 has been suddenly, overnight, pulled from the syllabus and this assessment will not be part of their final grade at all and that includes dyslexics who may have managed a A* in speaking and listening but will struggle with the written areas more.)

So, personally, I would trust a school more than Gove. I am sure a few have alterior motives due to league tables but Gove appears to have just as many alterior motives. I can see why schools might choose to get in first as Gove cannot be trusted not to change syllabuses or assessments overnight. At least with a grade you know where you are - whatever that grade is.

longingforsomesleep Fri 04-Oct-13 09:55:29

I'm always told that the thinking behind early maths at our school is that it means students can take longer over A level maths which is considerably harder. Thus the school is trying to do the best for their pupils by maximising their chances of a good grade at A2 maths.

BUT that would be fine if they only put those pupils in for early entry who were ready for it. My youngest (year 10) does maths GCSE next months and has been getting A* on practice papers for a long time. I think he's more that ready to do it and to start on AS maths straight afterwards. His brother did it at the same time and I don't believe he was ready for it. He got an A (was getting B-A on practice papers) but I really don't believe he had consolidated his gcse maths. It's too much of a blunt tool to say the whole of the top set can do maths early. If they could pick out those students who were really ready for it then fine. But they don't seem able to do that.

Kez100 Fri 04-Oct-13 09:58:52

I've just read that back and I am not against many changes that have been brought in but I am very much against the speed and unprofessional way it has been done. Gove has brought a lot of this on himself by implementing his reforms in the way he has.

noblegiraffe lumber their kids with a (bigger) set of lower grades.
My niece took GCSE Maths in year 9 and scraped a C. Then did no more maths. She has over a dozen mediocre grade GCSEs and now wants to teach but her lack of maths is a problem.

gazzalw Fri 04-Oct-13 10:03:57

When I was at a grammar school it was common practice to take English at the end of Year 10 and the clever ones did Maths early too (and then statistics in two terms). Standard practice to free up timetable time for the other (potentially) ten subjects hmm.

exexpat Fri 04-Oct-13 10:06:31

At DS's school only the top sets for maths and French do GCSE a year early - basically they are only in those sets if they are expected to get A*s even doing it a year early, and 95% of them do (one or two 'only' get As).

That makes sense to me, particularly for maths - able mathematicians would often be capable of doing the GCSE two or three years early, and this way they get to move on to more interesting stuff before the 6th form. I had more doubts about French, as DS had only been doing it for four years. He did get an A*, but I think the rush to GCSE meant there was more teaching-to-the-test and less actually learning to speak French, and he has now gone off languages, which I think is partly due to the pressure to learn long lists of vocab etc.

Putting an entire year - including all ability groups - in for GCSEs a year early sounds crazy to me, particularly when it is the crucial pair of English and Maths. Much better to give them as long as possible to do as well as they possibly can. If they want to get any GCSEs out of the way, it would be better to pick non-core subjects, IMO, so that not doing so well is not such a disaster.

exexpat Fri 04-Oct-13 10:10:21

Oh, and I'd agree with Errol that a better way to reduce stress would just be to cut the number of GCSEs - DS's school only allows a maximum of 10, which is plenty. Some schools make children do 12 or 14 GCSEs or equivalents - I presume all the low grades add up and make a difference to the league tables, but it would be much better for most children to do fewer and better.

exexpat I guess that's a selective school. My DS is at a middle of the road comp. Top set maths take it in year 10 and only 5 out of 30 got A*.
Many are now facing re-takes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Errol has it bang on.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If the school plummets in the league tables so be it

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I didn't know that.

Still not Eton, though.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ilovegeorgeclooney Sat 05-Oct-13 07:54:00

Firstly I apologise for the Eton mistake.

We find A* pupils get an A* in Year 10 and have seen no drop in pupils achieving their target grade. By focusing on English Lang in Year 10 and Lit in 11 we have seen an improvement in results in both subjects. No child who has not achieved their target is denied the chance to do so and neither is any child who just wants to try to improve. For example we have a pupil who has a target of F, he got a D in year 10 and is resitting to try for a C. Equally we have a boy with a target of a B, got an A last summer so is resitting in November because he wants an A*. To facilitate this I will be in school this morning, as I have been every Saturday this term, running revision classes.

What infuriates me about this is all the 'cheating schools' comments. Whilst there might be some schools doing this the blanket condemnation of all schools is totally unjust. In English, in particular, exam technique is crucial and messing up the timing can turn an A paper into a D so easily. That is why the driving test analogy fits, a mistake that does not reflect the pupil's skills can cause them to fail to achieve.

I teach because I love it. I had a very successful career in publishing before I retrained 10 years ago. The majority of my colleagues are exactly the same and whilst league tables have an impact on all schools they are in no way a motivating feature. When we were badly hit by the 2012 grade boundaries I can honestly say I didn't give a stuff about percentages, it was the children's devastation that upset me.

I have no gripe about where people are educated although having been at Oxford with some of the current Cabinet I possibly am influenced by memories of their attitude/behaviour then.

friday16 Sat 05-Oct-13 08:31:28

I have no gripe about where people are educated

So why did you raise where Gove went to school? There are lots of reasons, depending on your political views, to think that "George" Osborne and/or "Tony" Benn are wrong: I don't think the fact that they happened to go to the same secondary school explains much.

By focusing on English Lang in Year 10 and Lit in 11 we have seen an improvement in results in both subjects.

So that's great. They get better results, and it improves your league table placings, even under the new proposals, because people are doing better in the first sitting of the exam than they might otherwise. That's good for pupils and good for the school. Why would Gove's announcement on first sittings affect anything? The only schools that will be affected are those that are gaming, and you aren't. In absolute terms you won't be affected, and in relative terms your excellent work will look even better, because results obtained by gaming will drop away from the comparisons. Honest, good schools will benefit from changes that shine a light on dubious practice.

The schools that will be affected are those that are doing early entry crudely such that children get a lower grade in Y10 than they would have done in Y11. But that's not your school.

What infuriates me about this is all the 'cheating schools' comments.

Even Geof Barton has given up on that one. He was, you may recall, one of the main people outraged at the suggestion that wide-spread cheating had occurred in 2012, and one of the prime movers behind the legal action that failed earlier this year. He wrote last week:

"Note: I’m not denying the root-cause - the allegation of cheating. Because, with the greatest of regrets, I now have no doubt that cheating in English has happened and that we have all paid the price, especially those of us working in departments where our speaking & listening grades and our controlled assessments have been scrupulously fair.

But I also recognise why we find ourselves where we find ourselves. Some schools have flogged the system to its near-destruction. It’s a sign of the way accountability measures have driven school behaviour. It’s sad and rather sordid.

Thus we hear of schools where students gaining F and G for their reading and writing have miraculously been granted A and A* equivalents for their speaking and listening assessments.

This may be theoretically possible (there will be a few young people whose speaking is extraordinary and their writing, for specific reasons, very weak), but it’s pretty unlikely here in the real world of normal language capability.

We have also heard too many examples of controlled assessments being undertaken by students with heavy prompts, word banks and writing frames provided by their teachers. Their first drafts, we hear, are then - scandalously - marked and given back in order for students to rewrite them, thereby bumping their scores up considerably.

Most schools haven’t been doing this. Many have used early entry quite legitimately as a motivator for students seeking their college places. They haven’t been cheating at all.

But some schools, it seems, have. It may be the febrile world of inter-school competition and an accountability regime that means one school can only get better if another gets worse that leads to such stories.

It does feel, from where I’m sitting, as if English in particular is in a bad way."

HSMMaCM Sat 05-Oct-13 08:44:09

My DD's comp school lets them take maths a year early if they think they are capable of getting their best grade. If they take it, they do further maths or statistics, if they're not ready, they don't take it til year 11. I'm very happy with this arrangement.

nkf Sat 05-Oct-13 08:54:24

Early entry used to benefit schools because they banked grades of C and above. Gove has removed the incentive to do that by insisting that only the first exam counts. I get the impression he is determined to see all students take the same (no tiering) and much harder exams in Year 11. Your child's school is probably hedging its bets and hoping they can get some benefit from early entry. The only thing you can do is insist that if your child doesn't get the grade all evidence suggests they are capable of, they are allowed to do a retake.

Ilovegeorgeclooney Sat 05-Oct-13 08:59:02

Well as a school whose pupils did significantly worse in S and L assessments than the rest of the country ( 10% less on average ) I can say we did not cheat. Indeed we will benefit by the change. However I feel it would have been better for the pupils if they had changed the marking, such as all pupils being recorded, because this is a skill most people need in the workplace. Indeed even the CBI said that they felt it should continue to be part of the GCSE English exam.

However I do feel that to accuse all schools of cheating if they enter their pupils early is wrong and insulting. Yes I should not have raised where Gove went to school. However it is significant that we currently have a government who want to force schools into being Academies which clearly, using current data, does not improve education. Just look at the AET schools. Yet very few send their own children to one, in fact I have read reports saying not one member of the Cabinet sends their child to an academy.

Yes we have no issue with the change but that does not mean that some schools will not change their policy because of this and it will have a detrimental effect on pupils life choices. Just because it will not affect my school does not mean I shouldn't object to another announcement made after pupils have started their course. Indeed the disrespect shown to teachers by such a change being dropped into a lunch with 'The Telegraph' is quite telling of Gove's attitude towards us.

friday16 Sat 05-Oct-13 10:59:20

However it is significant that we currently have a government who want to force schools into being Academies which clearly, using current data, does not improve education. Just look at the AET schools. Yet very few send their own children to one, in fact I have read reports saying not one member of the Cabinet sends their child to an academy.

Fortunately, no state-sector school teacher has ever gone private for their own child, so this sort of hypocrisy is entirely restricted to Tory ministers. Which is good.

I also find it hilarious that anyone who suggests that some schools cheat is greeted with howls of "how can you be so offensive to honest teachers?" and yet it is axiomatic amongst teachers that Ofsted and Ofqual are staffed solely by corrupt politically-motivated charlatans who are part of an evil conspiracy to do down schools for entirely malevolent reasons. I would have thought that the vast majority of honest schools would have been rather keen to see the small minority dealt with, because the effect on the whole sector is toxic.

Teachers appear quite willing to impute the basest of motives to Michael Gove and Glynis Stacey and Michael Wilshaw, and all their staff, pets and household retainers, and yet take instant offence at the suggest that there is a single school in the country that needs improvement or a single teacher that has ever been dishonest. This ends up with the blanket dismissal of the Ofqual report on the 2012 English debacle, on the grounds that obviously the people that wrote it are dishonest, it stands to reason, dunnit?

What do you think happened in 2012? What would you have done about it?

Yes we have no issue with the change but that does not mean that some schools will not change their policy because of this and it will have a detrimental effect on pupils life choices.

So a policy introduced to prevent abuse of the system should be delayed, because some schools will make decisions that are bad for their pupils and are a further abuse of the system? Other than spite or crass stupidity, why would schools do things to harm their pupils? And if they do, shouldn't they be prevented from doing so?

Ilovegeorgeclooney Sat 05-Oct-13 12:16:54

What is your issue friday? Cannot you accept that not all schools are cheating? Plus, is allowing a child the best possible chance to achieve a C grade at key GCSE's cheating when their life opportunities are hampered by not having this grade?

My issue is that I want my pupils to have the opportunity to have happy, successful lives. If it takes them a retake to be able to progress to the college course that will facilitate this that is fine.

Parents want the same.

Not everyone is politically motivated.

Ilovegeorgeclooney Sat 05-Oct-13 12:21:45

Plus I like OFSTED - they always think I am outstanding!!!!!!! Plus when we were inspected in Dec 12 they said that "given the high quality of the teaching in English and the 'dubious' quality of the grading last summer we will disregard the dip in English grades."

I am not saying every school is perfect what I am saying is that early entry can be in the best interests of the pupil.

Ilovegeorgeclooney Sat 05-Oct-13 12:51:11

Well friday if you want to copy Geoff Barton, an amazing man, I will post this from an equally talented man. Michael Gove answers questions during the National Association of Head Teachers' annual conference

I've been reading an article you wrote in September's issue of Standpoint magazine, where you make many claims for what you're doing to the education system in England. You start by drawing conclusions from your own personal experience by contrasting the secondary school experience of some students at a Merseyside school with your own. Fair enough – except that you forgot to tell us that your secondary education was at a private school. Whatever the virtues of Robert Gordon's college, the two ways to get into the school – by paying or by scholarship – were not available to all. But then isn't that why such schools exist? Precisely in order to bestow something exclusive on a tiny minority, with only a tiny minority of that minority being offered – as you were – admission by exam.

You imply throughout your article that it is the excellent education you received at Robert Gordon's that you want everyone to get. It's an honourable objective, and in order to explain why England's state schools aren't as good as yours was, you conjure up the image of teachers, unions, local authorities and a Labour government straining to deprive poor children of a good education. By contrast, you say, your government has been "setting out to prove that every child can succeed". The problem with this argument is that your government has put in place rock-hard structures and processes that will guarantee that every child can't succeed.

So, you claim that you've been "recruiting more highly qualified teachers", but neglect to remind us that you've "freed up" academies and free schools to recruit non-qualified teachers. You say that you've "restored rigour and honesty to our exams", but forget to tell us that your interference with exam-grading has, for political reasons, fixed the marks. It has become impossible for pupils at 16 to improve on the scores they got at 11. Rigour? You mean "rigged". You say you "reward schools that teach the traditional subjects", but neglect to mention that this means by default students are getting less technology, drama, art and music, as if these are less valid or less useful. You say you've "toughened up inspection", but I hear from schools that this translates as Ofsted inspectors becoming increasingly unwilling to listen to teachers.

You talk about wanting every school to be as good as the best, but schools are placed in league tables, which by definition rank all the schools bar the first as not "being as good as the best". You claim that the academy programme will bring about school improvement across the board, but you deprive your readers of any stats on how many academies are failing Ofsted, how many you ordered to change their management, how many have called for help from the "local bureaucratic monopolies" (your words).

You conjure up the picture of a "we" hoping to "compete internationally" and "providing jobs for all" being held back by low marks. Perhaps you didn't notice your party choosing to withdraw from international competition in labour-intensive industries, opting instead for financial services. Perhaps you didn't notice that it wasn't low exam marks that blew Britain's productive capacity out of the window, but the greed of those same financial services. Perhaps you didn't notice your own government re-jigging the labour market so that "jobs for all" means lower pay, zero-hours contracts, a pool of the unemployed and part-time work for millions. The international competition your government believes in has nothing to do with good exam grades. It's all about low pay.

In the article you talk of the virtues of a knowledge-rich curriculum as if this is good because it is "traditional". It is indeed "traditional" in that there was a long tradition of the knowledge-rich curriculum being used as a means of segregating pupils. It proved to be ideal for selecting pupils for different kinds of school, different kinds of course, different streams and different exams. You seem unable or unwilling to explain how a "knowledge-rich curriculum" is of itself liberating for all, whilst in my time at school it was so ideal for excluding the majority from its virtues.

You trumpet the glories of what you call our "world-class" A-levels. I've been in an international school this week and their view of the international competition you go on about is that only the International Baccalaureate will do. There's a clue in the name, I guess.

Of course you tell us that performance-related pay is going to improve teaching. No, it will be an obstacle for improvement because it will inhibit many teachers from sharing their skills, knowhow and knowledge. Surely, it's when we share expertise that we raise standards?

Your legacy is the near-complete destruction of local democratic running of schools. You adopt a rhetoric in this article and elsewhere that dresses this up in the language of liberty. You cite Tony Blair, who talked of schools being "freed" from "politically correct interference from state or municipality", but then you forget to tell us that this new freedom is controlled by a political interference from somewhere else: from one person – the education secretary.

And the sum total of all this is improvement?

(By the way, according to your criteria – not mine – your own international competitiveness will be held back by the fact that you spelled Massachusetts "Massachussetts".)

Yours, Michael Rosen

greyvix Sat 05-Oct-13 15:29:44

Friday, you clearly know a lot about education, yet you are very cynical about teachers and schools' motives. Most teachers are proud of the work they do, and do genuinely put students first. As with any profession, there may be a small minority who get it wrong, as suggested by Geoff Barton's article.

friday16 Sat 05-Oct-13 17:08:04

"As with any profession, there may be a small minority who get it wrong, as suggested by Geoff Barton's article."

And on that note of agreement.

Barton's original blogs last August claimed that the very idea that there was the slightest hint of gaming anywhere in the system was offensive and wrong-headed. That he has now changed to a more reasonable position is good (Luke 15:7, etc).

This is a very interesting, and I think well argued, piece from a left-leaning teacher.

friday16 Sun 06-Oct-13 10:40:14

forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showpost.php?p=63362909&postcount=66

"Thanks for all your responses.

I am really concerned that the school expect the children to take this exam early.
Ds is thinking I'd a career in haematology and I believe that he should be taught the curriculum fully before any exams take place.
The school has been a farce from day one. They push the kids through, he took Spanish gcse at the end of yr 9 got a D, apparently was a few marks away from a C, the teacher talked him into re doing it the following year although he wasn't have Spanish lessons but the teacher did offer an after school club after school on a Monday.
History was taken in June (yr 10) along with the Spansish, English lit (that no one knew was being taken til the exam list came through!) science foundation level.
The history grade was a D again a few points away from the C, the teacher wanted ds to retake but we said no, teacher was not happy at all. I said tough! If he wants to do haematology then he needs to concentrate on his sciences, English and maths, without the pressure of another exam.
The Spansih he did was a 2 year course that was condensed into 1 year which actually turned into 9 months as the exam was early may!

My husband and I have been talking and I am going to speak to the head teacher tomorrow about ds not taking the exam early as like the general opinion we believe it's more damaging than helpful.

Again thank you for taking the time to respond x"

Ilovegeorgeclooney Sun 06-Oct-13 12:04:49

Well friday it does sound as if your son has been let down by his school's policy, it does sound strange. However my point is that some schools do it in the best interest of the pupils and it works. Good luck with your son.

friday16 Sun 06-Oct-13 13:29:01

Sorry, that's not my son. I merely cited it as an example of the sort of malpractice that schools are getting up to.

Ilovegeorgeclooney Sun 06-Oct-13 14:28:37

I think the missing word is 'some' in the same way that some politicians/lawyers/journalists/doctors/police/nurses etc are corrupt/inadequate/just bad at their jobs. However I would object to the sweeping condemnation of any profession and you are rather unbalanced in your viewpoint. Have you analysed the results of every school in the country that allows early entry?

creamteas Sun 06-Oct-13 14:32:54

* I merely cited it as an example of the sort of malpractice that schools are getting up to*

So you have no evidence of your own, just hearsay then?

But if what you claim is true, that the majority of schools can't be trusted, then the butt stops with the freedom of headteachers.

Hence if Gove really cared about the potential for malpractice, he would stop the expansion of free schools and academies and ensure all schools were regulated by an LEA. That would be a logical move wouldn't it?

But no, instead he is constantly moving the goalposts of the exam system to his image of a golden past, were we all just had a memory test at the end of year 11. You didn't need to understand anything, just write down what you could remember. With normative referencing for grades so a fixed percentage fails just to prove the exams were tough enough.

But that is what he wants isn't it, qualifications for the elite and everyone else thrown aside.

friday16 Sun 06-Oct-13 14:37:55

"Have you analysed the results of every school in the country that allows early entry?"

No, but Ofsted have. And a key finding is that although there are some school where it is a net benefit, schools themselves are bad at assessing the consequences.

"Some schools are using early entry highly effectively as part of an overall strategy to raise standards. However, other schools are using high levels of early entry where there is no, or limited, evidence of positive impact on raising standards and yet the view the school has of early entry is still very positive."

Another key finding is:

"Schools with low standards and that have been judged in inspections to be no better than satisfactory, appear to be using early entry more extensively."

So a reasonable conclusion for a parent to reach is that schools with extensive early entry don't understand the consequences and have low standards. Sure, there are exceptions. But for parents of able children, the conclusion is more clear cut:

"Students who take English and mathematics early are less likely to achieve the highest grades. For both GCSE English and mathematics the proportion of students who achieve grades A or A* shows a general decline as the percentage of early entry increases, although this is also related to their attainment on entry to the school."

And there's been a massive increase, too:

"The use of early entry has exploded in English and mathematics in the last few years, with only limited use in other subjects. Some schools enter all of their students early in one or both subjects. *In 2011, 458 schools entered 99% or more of their students early in English and 321 did so in mathematics.*"

Ilovegeorgeclooney Sun 06-Oct-13 15:10:36

To quote my schools OFSTED report 12/2012 "the School's policy of early entry in English has no negative impact on pupils' progress". Not all schools and often a clear response to the grade boundaries issue of 2012 where early entry 'gifted' thousands of pupils a grade C. Perhaps the rider: "although this is also related to their attainment on entry to the school" is significant. interestingly our data identified target for A/A* at the end of Year 11 was 23% we achieved 31% at the end of Year 10, damaging? Plus any pupil who wants to re-take can and do. Perhaps reasonable parents are intelligent enough to assess schools individually. Personally I have enough respect for our parents to inform them of our policy, show them the data and allow them to decide if our policy would suit their child. Gove clearly has less respect.

friday16 Sun 06-Oct-13 15:28:24

Gove clearly has less respect.

Why wouldn't your school continue to do early entry under the new rules? Gove's precisely giving you respect: he's saying you can do what you want, so long as it benefits pupils. The schools that are screaming that they can't continue with their policy under the new rules are admitting that the results of early entry were not beneficial.

Perhaps reasonable parents are intelligent enough to assess schools individually

Except if you're concerned for your own child, you may not have the luxury of being able to look at past performance. Early entry has increased ten-fold over the past few years, so most parents presented with the news the school is doing it cannot see data for how the school does, because it's a new initiative. In which case, the best you can look at is how schools do generally.

And withdrawing a child at the end of Y9, to start at another school for Y10, is the nuclear option. Very few parents will be able to do that. So if a school's policy on early entry changes, it's pretty much a done deal for the pupils in the cohort. How many schools have the same policy on early entry for current Y10 that they did when parents considered the school prior to Y7?

Ilovegeorgeclooney Sun 06-Oct-13 15:53:42

Firstly we will because it is in the best interests of our pupils. My issue is with the 'cheating' schools attitude by Gove. Any parent concerned for their child will be able to look at data regarding any school's achievement, it is in the public domain.

"How many schools have the same policy on early entry for current Y10 that they did when parents considered the school prior to Y7?" By the same argument education policy changes overnight with no warning so any choice could be flawed. What about parents who like early entry and now find their schools are changing it mid year due to Gove. What about children who are great at 'Speaking and Listening' and halfway through their GCSE course it no longer counts?

You cannot defend sudden change and then use change as being an argument for it. It is nonsensical.

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