(97 Posts)
fayeso Fri 01-Nov-13 11:12:48

My eldest is 13 this academic year, therefore due to sit GCSE's in 2017. Am I correct in thinking that her English and maths will be the new exams.....graded from 1-9, and her other subjects will be the old style GCSE...graded a-g?
Feeling slightly annoyed if this the case (which I think it is!!)
Can anyone confirm?

cricketballs Fri 01-Nov-13 11:21:42

the current year 8s will be the first ones to sit the new exams in maths, english language and english literature

LIZS Fri 01-Nov-13 11:28:26

dd is year 8 and is among that tranche although her school does igcses in many subjects including English and Maths so may not affect her.

bsc Fri 01-Nov-13 11:41:31

What has made you annoyed?

Rhianna1980 Fri 01-Nov-13 11:42:08

I think the grading system should be done in percentage. Eg : the student's grade would look like 76% etc.... So it basically means that the student passed or knows 76% of the material tested.
Neither the new 1-9 grading nor the letters gradings are accurate enough in my own opinion.

Ps: Slightly out of subject, the word GCSEs doesn't take an apostrophe where you used it both times in your post.

fayeso Fri 01-Nov-13 11:49:42

Not really annoyed just would prefer it if all exams she takes were to be marked on the same grading system. Would prefer her to take either all old style or all new style.....rather than a mix. It won't make a difference in the long run I know!!!!

cricketballs Fri 01-Nov-13 11:57:49

the HT on BBC breakfast this morning was very good at putting across several points...
1. the miss match of grades - how are employers going to know what is what with some students having GCSE grades the year before but 1-9 the year after, some doing IGCSEs so although same age will have A*-G

2. the difference between the 3 subjects and all the others

3. the speed - i.e. the specs will not be published until quite close to starting, text books etc

4. the quality and subjective nature of the marking

bsc Fri 01-Nov-13 12:05:55

I think there will be enough information in the public arena to allow employers to work out what A*-G and 1-9 mean! hmm

I do have grave reservations about eliminating tiers in examinations, however.

cricketballs Fri 01-Nov-13 12:18:15

not what they mean but the amount of different grades/qualifications etc that there will be. For example English students will have 1-9 in the new qualification, A*-G in GCSEs, A*-G in IGCSEs; the Welsh and Northern Irish students will have all GCSEs and then there is the Scottish Standard Grades

HesMyLobster Fri 01-Nov-13 13:01:52

I feel for you.

I have 2 DDs currently one in yr7 one in yr9, so the change is going to be the year between them.
I'm concerned for dd2 doing the 'new' exams obviously, but also for dd1 being the last cohort to do the 'old' exams.
Are they likely to be de-valued?

I have images of teachers spending dd1's GCSE year trying to get them out the way as quickly as possible so that they can focus on the shiny new stuff hmm

Talkinpeace Fri 01-Nov-13 13:23:45

tinkering for tinkering sake

am so so glad that both mine will be safely at uni before that wave crashes

friday16 Fri 01-Nov-13 13:46:49

"For example English students will have 1-9 in the new qualification, A*-G in GCSEs, A*-G in IGCSEs; the Welsh and Northern Irish students will have all GCSEs and then there is the Scottish Standard Grades"

So what? O Levels were graded 1-something and A-F at various times in their history, and I believe at some points were graded differently by different boards. CSEs were graded 1-6(?), so plenty of people in the 1960s through until the early 1990s had a mix of A-F O Levels (which had by then been standardised on letters) and 1-6 CSEs. (I took part in the 16+ pilot which became the GCSE about ten years later, so I have O Level As and CSE 1s in the same subjects: my head has so far managed to avoid exploding). University applications sometimes want UMS scores (%age, usually) alongside AS grades (A-whatever). ASes are graded A-whatever but A2s are graded A*-whatever. BTEC qualifications are graded with things like DD and DM, and often sit alongside either A Levels or GCSEs. Degrees are usually graded 1, 2(i), 2(ii), 3, but degrees from other countries, or masters', will be different.

I think "the general public will be confused" is disingenuous. It's like whenever the coinage is changed, people say "but pound coins/new tenners/whatever will confuse the old folk" when what they mean is "I don't like change". Employers are not stupid, and rather patronisingly saying "people won't be able to figure out two different scales" ignores the fact that there never has been some golden age in which all qualifications were measured on the same scale. There are big books of equivalences which, if you need to check a qualification's relationship to others, will give you a good shot.

Ilovegeorgeclooney Fri 01-Nov-13 16:23:23

I think the issue is more about how little time teachers' will have to get to grips with the new curriculum. Plus if there are new texts for English Literature will more money be available to buy them?

Talkinpeace Fri 01-Nov-13 16:24:58

and how many other changes the idiot Gove will bring in between now and then
and whether he'll let those exams settle or start messing about even more

ZingWantsCake Fri 01-Nov-13 16:34:09


my eldest is year 8 as well.
I didn't grow up in the UK and for once I'm not the only one who hasn't a clue! grin

NoComet Fri 01-Nov-13 16:54:12

DD2 is in Y8 so gets to be the Guinea Pig for this.

Hopefully she'll be OK as she wants to teach, therefore she isn't necessarily chasing A*s or on the C/D boundary, whatever those translate to in the new system.

I think it will be these groups who suffer worse as the exams fight to look credible and tough.

Waves at friday16 I too have O level grade A/ CSE grade 1 certificates from 16+ trial exams. The syllabus for the geography one of those was insanely big, so I'm not sure about new exams.

NoComet Fri 01-Nov-13 17:01:25

However, as a parent, I won't miss CA etc as no one ever seems to know exactly when they are or what's going on.

DD ended up doing CAs for English Science GCSE papers and two concerts all at once.

Everything at the end of Y11 would be so much simpler.

And for my dyslexic DD2 better, although she say's she likes the spreading out of English. She has grown up so much, I'm certain she'll do better next spring than she did in CAs over 12 months ago (since they are Cs, she won't get to resit and she needs a B for 6th form. Losing S&L has not helped --Fucking Gove--)

friday16 Fri 01-Nov-13 17:04:16

since they are Cs, she won't get to resit

Why not?

SanityClause Fri 01-Nov-13 17:14:51

Oh, Starball, that's so true about S&L.

DD2 is dyslexic and is in year 8, and her teacher last year was amazed at the difference between her spoken ability and her written ability. (Although this particular teacher did tell her off for misspelling "dyslexic", which is now a bit of a family joke.)

DD1 has just started year 10, and they did one of their S&L assessments at the end of year 9. She put in so much effort, and got a really good score, and now it won't be used. (I know it isn't really "wasted" as she learnt useful things in doing it, but it does seem unfair to be told it would count towards their GCSEs, and now it won't.)

HesMyLobster FWIW, I was the last year taking the old O'Levels and never had any problems with my results be 'devalued' - I took A'Levels late and there was never any confusion or issues when applying because I had the old qualifications.

We're pretty lucky - DS2 is Yr9 so takes the old style and DD's only Yr 5 so hopefully it'll all have all the kinks worked out by the time she takes them.

This isn't a new thing though. When DS1 had his options meetings two years ago, his HT told us that it was probable that there would be a switch back to exam only courses.

LordPalmerston Fri 01-Nov-13 17:30:44


spellings x 3 please

no '

stillenacht Fri 01-Nov-13 17:41:59

Ilovegeorge. Totally agree.

Quite pleased DS1 is in year 9.

friday16 Fri 01-Nov-13 17:52:56

I doubt William Hill will make book on GCSE set texts for 2020, post-Gove, post next government.

If they did, I'd have a flutter on The Crucible still being there.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Fri 01-Nov-13 17:58:14

My understanding is that it will be a 9-1 scale rather than a 1-9 scale. Just to add to the confusion, because every other system that has been listed as examples of numerical grading start with 1 being highest.

My assumption that this is to try to make it sound new and whizzy give an easier way to work out a grade point total for value added or sixth form entry requirements.

Phineyj Fri 01-Nov-13 18:08:32

Universities have a big chart saying what is equivalent to what, don't they? Seeing as there's a huge array of international qualifications to deal with too, I don't think this will tip anyone over the edge, from the employer/further study perspective.

bigTillyMint Fri 01-Nov-13 18:30:56

Another guinea-pig-mum here - DD is in Y10 doing old style, with the dreaded CA's and DS is in Y8 and will be doing the new ones.

cricketballs what's the story about the iGCSE's - are they not included in the changes?

LIZS Fri 01-Nov-13 18:32:14

iGCSEs are already nearer the format proposed with less CA etc.

bigTillyMint Fri 01-Nov-13 18:37:56

Yes, I think DD's English HoD said there would be no CA's for the English iGCSE she will be doing (but I could be wrong as there was such a lot of information to take in!)

But will they be graded A*-G or 9-1?

bigTillyMint Fri 01-Nov-13 18:38:48

Scrap that - it'll be all totally new when DSY8 comes to do it, won't it?blush

friday16 Fri 01-Nov-13 20:55:26

Universities have a big chart saying what is equivalent to what, don't they?

You can read it yourself here:

lljkk Fri 01-Nov-13 20:57:58

dd1 being the last cohort to do the 'old' exams. Are they likely to be de-valued?

Gawd, I wish my worries could get that complicated. I just want my y9 DS to get any qualifications.

sashh Sat 02-Nov-13 07:17:03

Ps: Slightly out of subject, the word GCSEs doesn't take an apostrophe where you used it both times in your post.

GCSE is an initialisation, not a word. It can, and used to take an apostrophe because you are missing out, and the plural would actually be GCsSE, however in common usage GCSEs is becoming the norm, identifying GCSE as an object in the same way GCSE has become the norm rather than G.C.S.E.

crypes Sat 02-Nov-13 07:34:14

That was rude and unnecessary for Rhianna1980 to point out the use/misuse of apostrophe ( what a prat). Anyway just to say my Dd is in year 8 and her work is already marked on a number level scale, she says 7a is the highest but never ever gets it. Which is a little worrying, as that's the equivalent of an A*.

crypes that is the KS3 nc levels, they work the other way around eg 8 is high and 2 is low. A level 7a isn't the highest and doesn't equal an a*!

SoupDragon Sat 02-Nov-13 07:49:18

DSs are Y10 and 8. However, I think they do iGCSEs so it probably won't make a difference.

What was the reasoning behind changing the grading? I don't understand why that helps with making the exams more "robust" or whatever they were aiming for.

kitchendiner Sat 02-Nov-13 07:53:50

I believe that SPaG will account for 20% in the new exams rather than 12% as it is currently. This is obviously not good for dyslexic students. I think I read on another thread here that IGCSE English has kept the speaking and listening part which is good for dyslexic students.

LIZS Sat 02-Nov-13 08:50:44

Don't think ds is doing Speaking and Listening as part of his iGCSE but maybe there are options

lljkk Sat 02-Nov-13 09:19:29

Maybe Crypes means that her DD is on a track to being expected to get A*.
DD has similarly high targets which also make me nervous.

LordPalmerston Sat 02-Nov-13 09:27:55

Rihanna ?!

LordPalmerston Sat 02-Nov-13 09:28:19

S doing speaking in his igcse. It's an option

kitchendiner Sat 02-Nov-13 09:45:51

Great relief it's still an option for IGCSE. DS is one of the many dyslexic students who excels at the S&L.

NoComet Sat 02-Nov-13 13:26:53

Trouble is iGCSE is only an option, in most areas, if you can afford private school.

As for DD resitting the first English CAs, everything's moved on to studying texts, rather than that kind of writing and she's got Drama, science and music CAs to worry about.

Even if the teacher offered resits (which I don't think she will) DD wouldn't want to do them.

The issue is further complicated by DD1 not wanting to explain why she wants to go else where for sixth form.

noblegiraffe Sat 02-Nov-13 13:47:25

They may stop counting IGCSE in the league tables, forcing schools to take the new GCSEs.

"[We] will seek evidence that any qualification being proposed for inclusion in performance tables does not have significant overlap with reformed GCSEs. … In time, this will result in the phasing out of academic qualifications from the annual list of non-GCSE qualifications counting towards performance tables."

LordPalmerston Sat 02-Nov-13 13:56:13

igcse and we are state and proud.

Talkinpeace Sat 02-Nov-13 15:46:48

lots of state schools are doing iGCSEs next June .....

mummytime Sat 02-Nov-13 16:08:52

Well if they don't count IGCSEs then they go back to the situation a couple of years ago, where the top schools in the country all appeared at the bottom of the league tables as they no longer did GCSEs (I mean Eton et al). Only it would be worse now as more "State schools are doing iGCSEs, especially all these Academies.

TheArticFunky Sat 02-Nov-13 16:44:35

At the moment students need the magic C in English/Maths. What will be the magic number required under the new system?

noblegiraffe Sat 02-Nov-13 16:49:21

It hasn't been decided yet. It will probably be 4 or 5.

friday16 Sat 02-Nov-13 17:31:56

Only it would be worse now as more "State schools are doing iGCSEs, especially all these Academies.

Suppose iGCSE English and Maths returned to the pre-2009 position of being non-GCSE equivalent. If an academy did non-GCSE Maths and English it would immediately fall below the floor standards and be placed into special measures. Academy status is no protection against special measures; neither is being a free school. Such schools may be able to set their own syllabus, but they still have to meet floor standards.

mummytime Sat 02-Nov-13 18:34:49

I would bet on: Of Mice and Men, The Crucible, and An Inspector Calls, as I studied all those many centuries years ago, and my DC are still studying them. (Of course with Shakespeare, and maybe Dickens returning, I never got to the end of Great Expectations.)

LordPalmerston Sat 02-Nov-13 18:36:21

Agree. Fucking hell engkish teachers. Move Wyeth the times

LordPalmerston Sat 02-Nov-13 18:37:06

They're changing grading to the magic 8 where English and maths gets counted twice. But everything else important

RaspberryLemonPavlova Sat 02-Nov-13 22:17:52

DS1 is doing iGCSE and GCSE English Language next June, I think school is covering as many bases as possible! He is Y11 and everything keeps changing for them.

To the poster who asked about funding for buying new books for English Lit, as they are allowed to take 'clean copies' into the exam with them, they all had new copies to take in. And for poetry they got 2 new anthologies each, at the start of the exam, to cross reference (if I've got that right), so I don't suppose the costs will impact too much!

(DS1 did his English Lit and his Maths last year).

I did the Crucible too, along with a weird book called The Only Child by James Kirkup, never heard of it since!

bsc Sun 03-Nov-13 09:25:08

DfE have stated that for pupils sitting GCSE and iGCSE, only one result will count in the performance tables, and it will be that which was sat first. I think we will see a decrease in those doing igcse tbh, as although pupils can count both, it will screw over a lot of schools in the tables.

Lord palmerston- maths and english are doubleweighted yes, however unless pupils sit english literature english is only single weighted. Its utter madness- child sits eng Lang, and eng lit, gets C for language, A for Lit, performance measure is counted as 2 Cs. Child sits Eng Lang only, gets A*, perf table measure is recorded as A* plus 0 divided by 2 angry
Utterly beyond the achievment expectations for some pupils sad

bookluva Sun 03-Nov-13 09:34:43

I can see lots of schools moving from GCSEs to IGCSEs in an attempt to avoid Gove's interfering policies. It'll be interesting to see if this happens...

friday16 Sun 03-Nov-13 09:48:39

I can see lots of schools moving from GCSEs to IGCSEs in an attempt to avoid Gove's interfering policies.

Gove is going to crack down on GCSE "equivalent" qualifications. He has already removed all the "worth multiple GCSE" claims and stated they are all worth, at most, one GCSE.

Amongst those equivalent qualifications are, of course, the iGCSE.

If the GCSE changes, the equivalence will be broken. The iGCSE would have to reapply to be deemed equivalent to a GCSE. If the new-GCSE is more rigorous (or whatever) in the eyes of Ofqual then the iGCSE, as it stands, would by definition not be equivalent.

Any maintained or voluntary aided school which failed to do English, Maths and other core subjects with the Ofqual-accredited new-GCSE, or designated equivalents thereof, would instantly go into special measures, because they would instantly fail the floor standards. Ofsted wouldn't even need to wait for the results to come it: they could fail the school based on the exam officer's list of entries.

People appear all too willing to believe exam-board hype. Why is is taken as axiomatically true that cynical exam boards are dumbing down qualifications in order to win more business when the topic at hand is the GCSE, while those self-same boards are selfless guardians of intellectual purity and truth when it comes to setting things like iGCSEs? Why is CIE assumed to be an honest broker of the iGCSE, but a venal commercial concern when it comes to the GCSE?

mummytime Sun 03-Nov-13 10:07:48

The exam boards (Edexcel and CIE) are already writing new iGCSEs which will fit Gove's requirements for state schools. However, I am not sure how much control Gove can wrest back from Academies and Free schools.

Asterisk Sun 03-Nov-13 12:28:19

I think the English syllabus can only improve. Currently, they study only two full texts over two years. 'To Kill a Mockingbird' is a brilliant book, but having to write three or four essays on it has dulled my Yr 11 DD's enthusiasm for it. A bit more variety can only be a good thing (although my DS is not too keen on having to do romantic poetry!). The grading system is arbitrary. Employers and universities are smart enough to equate the two systems. Agree that it's a shame about losing listening and speaking, but the episode of 'Educating Yorkshire' featuring the boy with the stammer made me realise what a stumbling block this is for some children.

friday16 Sun 03-Nov-13 12:39:28

I am not sure how much control Gove can wrest back from Academies and Free schools.

They get to choose their syllabus. They do not get to choose whether or not they are subject to government accountability measures. If a maintained or VA school was unable to show that it was meeting the floor standards for progress and achievement they they would be placed in special measures. At the moment it's 5A*-C inc English and Math, in the future there's a variety of 8-best VA and other measures. So if, for the sake of argument, iGCSE English were deemed not equivalent to GCSE English (and anyone who says "that could never happen" is, I would suggest, misguided) a school that used it would be immediately below the floor standard and immediately in special measures.

We know what special measures for Academies looks like. We don't yet quite know what special measures for free schools looks like. The two schools flirting with it, a flimsy Montessori school in Crawley and the current disaster in Derby, are sufficiently weird to start with that special measures for them may not tell us much about special measures for more standard schools. If somewhere that looks more like a maintained school, like Toby Young's project or the King's School in Bradford, dropped into special measures (and the latter, in particular, is not beyond the bounds of possibility) then quite who would intervene is unclear. But it's quite clear that the schools' funding arrangements are contingent upon keeping Ofsted happy.

NoComet Mon 04-Nov-13 08:44:13

SM for an academe is just as horrible, shity, pointless process as it is for any other school.

DDs school was doing a satisfactory job before, it will be doing a satisfactory job afterwards, but on a shoe string because so many pupils have left, not joined Y7.

Had it got RI and a bit of support, it would be doing a good job by Christmas angry

richmal Mon 04-Nov-13 11:54:35

I thought in the new GCSE they had made 9 the highest grade so a level 10 can be added more easily as educational standard improve in future years.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Mon 04-Nov-13 17:35:21

That sounds like planning for grade inflation to me richmal wink

noblegiraffe Mon 04-Nov-13 18:30:18

Grade inflation = kids getting better marks as teachers get to grips with a whole new system. It's inevitable.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Mon 04-Nov-13 18:40:14

Totally agree noble.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Mon 04-Nov-13 18:41:31

I was making more of a dig at the political nonsense of it all rather than anything else

AfricanExport Mon 04-Nov-13 18:42:18

I am really worried about this change as is is going to completely screw up my dd's education, she is year 8 and dyslexic. The teachers don't even correct her spelling or grammar, as apparently before we didn't need to know how to spell sad
So how is she ever going to pass these GCSEs? The standard of education of dyslexic pupils is simply not good enough to force this on them.

She thinks she is doing Okay because they lie and don't correct her work. Now I must tell her that no honey your doing shit and are unlikely to pass English because. ..

a.. the policy changed

b.. your teachers were crap for not correcting bad spelling and grammar

Pissed off angry that my DD's education is a fucking experiment

SidandAndyssextoy Mon 04-Nov-13 19:30:51

I'm worried by the fact that study after study has shown that the final exam model disadvantages girls, who do far better through coursework and continuous assessment. I worry that the problem of boys' underachievement and the consequent gender gap in results is being addressed by bringing the girls down, rather than finding a way to bring the boys up.

NoComet Tue 05-Nov-13 15:03:26

This 'girl' absolutely loathes course work and thinks continuous assessment is the work of the Devil.

Course work favours the hard working and the dull, who don't have any hobbies or any interests out side school so have time for it.

Inventive, imaginative, exciting teens that you'd like to have in your course are riding, singing, preparing for concerts, doing ballet, scuba diving, going on Ranger trips and scout camps, playing sport, drawing, reading, doing gymnastics.

Not worrying about some stupid CA that's marks can get fudge up by their teachers and down by Gove.

starball, that is frankly an objectionable statement.

hardworking children are dull?

Those involoved in a plethora of expensive extracurricular activities are exciting?

Good god.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Tue 05-Nov-13 17:13:53

Wow starball, you sound very bitter and far too ready with your wildly sweeping generalisations!

ZingWantsCake Tue 05-Nov-13 23:07:07


DS1 is year 8 and is going on a launch trip as a start to a course that identifies " University - bound" kids.
he is year 8 and is predicted to have straight As.
outside of school he plays chess & piano, is learning latin and is a chorister at a famous Royal Chapel - we've just got back from the concert he sang at.
he puts effort into his homework but

he has time for fun and games. he is not dull, but smart and funny and what you said was very rude and ignorant.

ZingWantsCake Tue 05-Nov-13 23:09:21

but he doesn't do ballet (no interest) or horse riding (clashing with Sunday activities), I give you that much.
I do hope he will become a lovely, kind and smart man though.

noblegiraffe Wed 06-Nov-13 09:46:33

Girls outperformed boys in maths from 1997 till 2009. Now boys are outperforming girls again.

That's when they scrapped coursework in maths. I suppose girls in general must be boring and have no life outside school for coursework to favour them so obviously.

friday16 Wed 06-Nov-13 10:57:27

When men outperformed women at school at university, it was taken as complete proof that women were intellectually inferior, and any suggestion that the sexism of the school system and societal attitudes to women's education might be to blame was derided. More recently, a lot of the systematic blocks on women in education have been removed; it's not that long ago that girls' schools had almost no lab facilities, for example, and an unofficial quota system to fix the proportion of women in medical schools operated until twenty or thirty years ago. Lo and behold women's performance has become at least as good, and now ahead of men. Oddly, this isn't proof of the obvious superiority of women in education, but is now regarded as evidence of bias in assessment methods.

When women were being actively denied opportunity and kept out of prestigious universities by casual sexism and the assumption that they'll only have babies anyway, their lower overall performance was evidence that they were inferior. When men are given exactly the same opportunity as women, in the same classrooms, taking the same exams, a similar disparity in performance is taken as evidence that the assessment process should be changed to suit men's particular requirements. Some might find this rather interesting.

noblegiraffe Wed 06-Nov-13 11:07:13

Don't forget in the 50s and 60s girls had to do better than boys on the 11+ to get into grammar school, otherwise more girls than boys would get in.

SidandAndyssextoy Wed 06-Nov-13 12:18:07

Friday, I have said the same myself many times - why is it assumed something is 'wrong' if girls outperform boys. On the other hand, if boys are underperforming for some reason it does no one any favours not to look into that. If, and I don't know if this is the case, any part of the reasoning for the return to final exams is that it will raise boys' marks, then I would find that a very lazy way of addressing the problems of academic engagement that many boys are struggling with.

noblegiraffe Wed 06-Nov-13 12:20:08

I think the reasoning for returning to final exams is because that's what Gove did when he was at school. Nothing more sinister than that.

wordfactory Wed 06-Nov-13 12:28:21

Whilst CA and modular learning may play better to the strengths of many girls (not all of course) in terms of raw results, I do think this has to be balanced against an education which is constantly stop/start, stop/start.

DD's all girls school has done extremely well out of the old style GCSEs. Punching way above its weight in the results tables. However, when I questioned the teachers about the changes to a more linear approach, each one was glad to see the back of the old system. The view to a (wo)man was that a move to modular will make for a much more fluid and flexible two years.

wordfactory Wed 06-Nov-13 12:29:56

And I agree with noble in that I don't believe the happy by product of a more pleasant two years has crossed Gove's mind.

But hey ho. Every cloud...

friday16 Wed 06-Nov-13 12:36:57

I think the reasoning for returning to final exams is because that's what Gove did when he was at school. Nothing more sinister than that.

In part, however, I think he's right. The most obvious example is modularised A Levels which mean that, particularly in the maths and sciences, some people are taking high-stakes exam which will affect their university admission in the January of L6 Y12. My memory of the lower sixth was an opportunity to stretch out and learn something about my subjects, and do some other stuff too. My elder's much happier in Y13 with nothing to come until June.

Being on a constant assessment treadmill from January of Y10 to June of Y13 which, with controlled assessments, means that people might not have a single month in four years when they are not either being examined or preparing for an exam (and teachers are having to mark them). It's hard to see how that's a good thing, and no matter what your animus is towards Gove, pointing out that it's not the best use of valuable contact time doesn't seem inherently wrong.

wordfactory Wed 06-Nov-13 12:41:45

Friday I hear ya.

My DD (year 10) recently had a CA in Eng Lit. She and her friends took it extremely seriously. It kind of took over, albeit for a short period of time.

I am very happy that this is not an experience that is going to be repeated ad nauseum in all subjects. Very. Happy.

noblegiraffe Wed 06-Nov-13 12:43:03

I'm glad to see the back of modular GCSE for that reason, constant past papers, revision sessions and resit decisions. But some students found the regular assessment and progress indicators very motivating and it is going to be a struggle now to keep them going through Y10, which I remember being a problem from when I taught linear 8 years ago.

Getting rid of January modules and AS levels I have nothing positive to say about. A terrible decision all round angry

wordfactory Wed 06-Nov-13 12:47:26

noble I can only imagine how endless it must have seemed for teachers. Work towards a module, revise it, exam. And on. And on.

But yes, I can see how it motivates too.

DD is so pleased to have had the results of her first CA and now knows she's on the right track. That officially she is good at Eng Lit. And it has given some others a needed kick up the jaxy.

DS is vuirtually catatonic, so laid back is he. The odd module, CA might help! But he does iGCSEs, so that's not gonna happen.

wordfactory Wed 06-Nov-13 12:49:53

Oh and have AS exams gone now?

I can see they were useful. You've got to feel a bit sorry for the L6 though. It all felt very pressurised, very soon IYSWIM. Particularly those who started new schools and/or subjects. They'd no sooner settled in and they were taking a hugely important exam.

friday16 Wed 06-Nov-13 12:51:48

Oh and have AS exams gone now?

No. It's being proposed, but there will be a major amount of push-back from universities who, with current volumes of applications, may find the quality of their admission process drops without a good solid set of results in the applicant's chosen A2 subjects.

On the other hand, there's no equivalent of the AS for IB students, and universities appear to manage to admit them OK.

Particularly those who started new schools and/or subjects. They'd no sooner settled in and they were taking a hugely important exam.


bigTillyMint Wed 06-Nov-13 12:59:42

Yes, DD has a CA in Spanish tomorrow. She has learned the piece off by heart, but still wants to practice more. She will have one in French next week. What is she actually learning?confused

Oh and my DD is hardworking, but she also spends 10 1/2 hours a week on her chosen sport, plus other sport and lots of socialising. Definitely not dull.

noblegiraffe Wed 06-Nov-13 13:08:29

friday, as far as I am aware, AS, as a halfway point in the A-level course is definitely going. Linear A-levels, with full assessment at the end of Y13 are being developed for first teaching in September 2015 (same as new graded GCSEs) except in languages, maths and further maths which will start in 2016.

noblegiraffe Wed 06-Nov-13 13:14:18

Taking an important exam in January was a good thing, it meant kids hit the ground running. A lot underestimate the demands of A-level and assume what got them through GCSE would be enough. Mock exams in December show them that really, it isn't good enough and poor module results in March are sometimes a much-needed kick up the arse.
Good results are also a confidence-booster. A lot of kids struggle with maths and getting a decent grade early on shows them they can do it.

wordfactory Wed 06-Nov-13 13:21:34

noble I can see that.

An official stock taking exercise might tell some students that the course simply isn't for them.

I know maths is one subject where the jump from GCSE to A is stark. DS school won't let anyone take maths A level unless they've shown themselves highly profficient (an A* at GCSE is not considered the gold standard). And still it's the one where many a good GCSE student comes unstuck.

MFL the same.

SlowlorisIncognito Wed 06-Nov-13 15:13:08

I agree that universities will not be keen on the loss of AS levels. Yes, international students and those taking the IB or other qualifications like access courses where there is no AS equivalent are generally admitted no problem. In these cases, where applicable, GCSE results tend to be looked at more closely, to see if they correlate with the students current predictions. However, it is my understanding that the majority of students still follow the A-level route.

In the past, when AS grades didn't have to be declared on university applications, schools often massively overpredicted the A2 grades, meaning applicants got offers that did not really match their actual ability. This isn't good for universities, or for students who end up with offers that they have no hope of achieving. The requirement to "cash in" AS levels was supposed to help stop this, I believe.

However, I am sure universities will find a way around it. I imagine GCSE results will become more important again, as these will be the only actual qualifications that applicants have to demonstrate their abilities. Unfortunately, as these are being changed, the GCSEs of the children in the new system may not be indicative of their true ability. This will make things quite difficult for admissions tutors for a few years.

Also, removing pretty much all the coursework from GCSE and A-level will probably mean students are very unprepared for university study, where coursework is usually an important element of the course.

Does anyone know what is happening to things like the extended project?

TellNoOneOK Thu 07-Nov-13 14:08:52

The issues regarding grading and exam difficulty, I think are as follows:

Using OCR gateway biology higher as an example

grade boundaries June 2013
A* A C
Paper exams % mark achieved 58% 47% 27%
Controlled assessment % mark achieved 90% 79% 60%
Total % mark achieved 70% 59% 39%
UMS score (shown on certificate) 90 80 60

grade boundaries June 2010

Paper exams % mark achieved 75% 63% 38%
Controlled assessment % mark achieved 91% 85% 68%
Total % mark achieved 83% 74% 53%
UMS score (shown on certificate) 90 80 60

Grade boundaries have recently declined despite these two biology exams being very similar. Both exams were hard, especially when taken with physics and chemistry. When there is a single assessment in
2015 for students starting in 2012 it will be extremely difficult to do well in real terms. The lowering of grade boundaries allows students to appear to be doing well in the subject. A* is the new A.

The controlled assessment sticks more to the traditional idea of what the grade boundaries should be. The government plans to get rid of or greatly reduce this element of the exam due to fears that girls do better in it and accusations about schools cheating. Where the latter is concerned I think this is now unfair. Pupils have to do the work in school,
the grade boundaries are ruthless and the exam board also seems to be ruthless in modulating the results.

Future plans for the separate linear science GCSEs will be unlikely to result in more difficult papers. If this is the case, hardly anyone would get an A grade or the boundaries would have to be yet further reduced.

crazymum53 Thu 07-Nov-13 15:33:31

Where do your figures come from TellNoOneOK ?
According to this link OCR Grade Boundaries 2013 the percentages you quote are incorrect.

The grade thresholds are: A* 90 A 80 B 70 and C 60 these are percentages because the total mark is 100, but this is not always the case (some papers may have a total mark of 60 or 90). So if the grade C mark was say 27/60 that would make more sense.

Those are UMS crazymum - not raw score.

friday16 Thu 07-Nov-13 15:39:03

The grade thresholds are: A 90 A 80 B 70 and C 60 these are percentages*

Those are UMS score, not raw percentages. The mapping from raw to UMS is at the heart of debates about standards. All marks have to be converted to UMS if you're going to have modules or choices of paper in the same syllabus, because otherwise there's no meaningful way to add them together. The setting of the conversion between raw and UMS is what allows grade boundaries to move: the grade boundaries are fixed in UMS terms, but the raw marks that go to make up that UMS can change.

TellNoOneOK Thu 07-Nov-13 16:36:02

Dear Crazy mum,

The link you have given only shows the UMS boundaries. 90 for an A*,
80 for an A and 60 for a C. The total ums score that can be achieved is 100. These score boundaries can therefore be quoted as percentages but they are not the actual % marks gained in the exam.

UMS scores are what we see on the actual exam certificate.

The other percentages that I am quoting are the actual percentages that the students gain in the exams. This is also available via the internet.
I will try and sort out a link.

A total of 256 marks is available for OCR gateway Biology higher. If a student achieved 60% on paper b731h, 55% on paper b732h, 90% on both controlled assessments b73301 and b73302 then they would have an A*grade and will have got 178 out of 256 marks or 70% overall.

How UMS is precisely linked to the raw scores to gain an overall final grade is a bit complicated. Looking at the raw scores is of worth as it gives a good idea of how students are really performing in the exams they are being given.

TellNoOneOK Thu 07-Nov-13 16:42:07

Dear crazy mum. This will find you the data for june 2013.

Similar data is available on the ocr website for other years.

crazymum53 Fri 08-Nov-13 16:26:30

Have checked your links thanks.
Your conclusion "Grade boundaries have recently declined despite these two biology exams being very similar" is however incorrect.
The results for June 2013 are for the current new GCSE Specification which schools started teaching in September 2011. Those from June 2010 are from an older specification, so the papers have been altered already to make them harder. Grade boundaries do tend to drop the first year a new specification is taught because there are no past papers to practise.

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