Any a level English teachers about?

(29 Posts)
Esker Sun 11-May-14 01:14:52

Just to share experience really.

Was wondering what the minimum GCSE grade at other schools is to do a English. At ours it is a B, and as English is not a popular subject at ks5 at my school, we only have one class, which means that the spectrum of ability is huge. Some of the kids can barely write a decent sentence and struggle to come up with the most basic of responses to texts, whilst others are flying- I find it incredibly difficult to meet all their varying needs at once!

Anyone else in the same position, and any advice?

Also- and this is just a rant for rant's sake- but I find many of my year 12s diabolically lazy, whilst at the same time bizarrely entitled - ie get really huffy and put out when they get Ds etc in assessments, failing to understand that it takes a bit of work on their part!

sassytheFIRST Sun 11-May-14 01:20:40

Marking place - I'll respond tomorrow .

noblegiraffe Sun 11-May-14 10:40:07

I'm a maths teacher and also suffer with diabolically lazy students. Is there a discipline system in your sixth form? Students in ours can be put on levels of monitoring if they are slacking off which involves meetings with their tutor, head of sixth form, parental involvement. If nothing improves, they go through the levels and can be asked to leave the course/sixth form.

Email contact with parents can also help.

I am a bit surprised that someone with a B at GCSE can't write a decent sentence - is this an issue with teaching at GCSE that needs addressing? Do top groups need more extended writing or whatever, that would give them good practice for A-level? It could be your entry requirements need amending, maybe a B with high UMS or a teacher recommendation? You could ask on the TES English forum what other schools do.

This sounds very, very familiar. Sadly, I have no answers.

susannahmoodie Sun 11-May-14 16:24:13

Ours is a B too, but sometimes C grades have slipped through the net, which is difficult.

We have huge class sizes, sometimes 26,27 and often there are 2 or 3 classes per year.

It's hard because of the ability range as you say, I survive by having watertight detailed sows and sharing good quality resources with colleagues, but there are times when the marking workload is insane!

Yes, sentence structure is often poor with the b graders, which is very worrying. I have a low tolerance for this. If I read a first paragraph and it's not punctuated properly I'll had it back to be redone. I haven't got time
to waste.

susannahmoodie Sun 11-May-14 16:35:17

Oh and even though we have 2/3 classes, there is still a huge ability range because we can't set due to the tt.

I recognise the sense of entitlement too. I'm frequently told accusingly by students that they 'need an a/b' for uni etc as if it's nothing to with them and everything to do with me. Last year a student handed in an essay in late and said 'here's your essay miss', which prompted a huge rant from me about how it wasn't 'my' essay....I was vv pg at the time grin.

I was also told by One student that 'I should never have accepted a d grade piece of coursework from him when I knew he was an a grade student'...this was inspite of me giving clear feedback on numerous occasions about what he needed to do to improve it and my comments being ignored time and time again....they get it in the end though- a few weeks before the exam sometimes They have that lightbulb moment, and it makes it worthwhile...kind of smile.

KinkyDorito Mon 12-May-14 07:05:50

I'm teaching a huge range in mine and have heard a nasty rumour that a few of them were D grade at GCSE...

Anyway, so many of the Year 12s are completely apathetic. They still seem to be very immature when compared with Year 13.

I am incredibly strict with them as that seems to be the only way to get them to work. They don't like me, but they are getting excellent results. I had a load on E/D grade when I started and now majority have A/B coursework - they can do it, they are just very lazy! I also do put on support sessions for those who do struggle to write. I have an awful lot of EAL doing the course too. It is very time consuming, but they often need to be taught very basic things like apostrophes. If I don't then the next level will assume they know it too. They do need that kind of help.

I worked in an outstanding school for several years and had many students who expected the work to come from me. They were very disappointed.

The only way I find that works is treating them like lower school students. It's not great as you want to give them the freedom and autonomy of being in Sixth Form, but the reality is that many are too young to cope with that yet. By Year 13, they do seem a bit better and more independent, although there are still ones who haven't got that it matters yet.

I would want a B minimum.

KinkyDorito Mon 12-May-14 07:08:01

susannah your class sizes are insane. I got a 21 once and sulked - we couldn't fit into the tiny classrooms over in the Sixth Form building!

Esker Mon 12-May-14 23:30:20

Thanks for responses everyone- sorry to hear others are in the same boat, although at least I know I'm not alone!

Noble giraffe- I we do have a discipline system of sorts, but it only really escalates to calls home/ students being required to attend a meeting with staff- there don't seem to be any actual sanctions to impose eg restriction of privileges.

I do think it would be good to take their UMS score into account, as that would sort the almost-A-but-had-bad-exam students from the scraped-a-B-somehow-but-should-have-got-a-C students!! However that is wishful thinking as we struggle to get enough students to fill even one English class (sad but true - the arts considered very inferior to maths and science at my school), so beggars can't be choosers!

I suppose I was exaggerating when I said some can barely write a sentence, and I think that's where the laziness comes in maybe - they have to try really hard to write well, and they don't like trying hard!

I guess it's down to me really, to make them love the subject and want to work confused

Anyway, the AS exam is on Friday... It's in the students' hands now really!

Esker Mon 12-May-14 23:34:05

KinkyDorito- good advice to treat them like middle school students . I've heard others say the same.

It's just so sad as I have top set year10, who are a total joy to teach and so able - many of them much stronger than my AS students- but most of them will be off to do maths, further maths, Chem and physics in yr 12!!

KinkyDorito Tue 13-May-14 16:09:38

That's always the way, Esker grin. Tbh, if I could have my time again, I'd totally have gone the Science route and trained to be a surgeon. Can't say I blame them!

KinkyDorito Tue 13-May-14 16:11:39

You're doing the same as me then. It's been like pulling teeth. Put on a revision session last Thursday as they were all worried and one came (the resit one in Year 13). This is out of fifteen. Not impressed.

I will be glad when they finish and might be very strict about who continues into 13 as I know how hard that is compared to AS.

What board are people using? Might be good to compare/share ideas resources where appropriate?

We're currently doing WJEC, with a view to changing once the new specs come out, so for current Yr 10.

KinkyDorito Tue 13-May-14 20:41:08

WJEC for A Level; AQA for GCSE.

I'm marking AS mocks and planning revision tomorrow and slowly sinking into a pit of despair.

KinkyDorito Tue 13-May-14 20:42:31

revision FOR tomorrow.

I am losing the ability to write.

WJEC for A level here too. Will message you.

Pit of despair indeed - I have descended to the depths of despondency.

KinkyDorito Tue 13-May-14 20:48:30

grin

Just like nearly all of my students!

KinkyDorito Tue 13-May-14 20:48:49

And don't get me started on Year 11. <sobs and rocks>

LeBearPolar Tue 13-May-14 20:49:09

This situation is SO familiar. Both the inability to write in sentences and the huge sense of entitlement. I have a fab, hard-working, really determined Yr 13 set who are all coming for extra sessions and producing practice essays like no-one's business but the Yr 12? Nada. One practice essay out of a group of 14. And yet they all expect Bs and As at the end of it all. I am really panicking about A2 actually - in previous years at my school we have had to take someone through to A2 who got a U at AS shock

We are OCR at the moment. I wish they'd release the new specs so I could start making choices for 2015.

That's insane, Polar.

A couple of mine have got nothing more than Ds in everything they've done as yet, but remain, 'Confident I can get an A overall'. Their exam is on Friday. I am having to bite my tongue a fair bit.

OttilieKnackered Tue 13-May-14 20:59:35

I wish our lowest entry grade was a B. It's a C for us and given the emphasis schools put on C/D students, many of them are probably more natural D graders.

My classes are far more mixed ability than they would be in a school and yet I'm expected to stretch my A* students while also 'supporting' A2s who only got an E at AS. Our SMT are all about bums on seats so it's quantity over quality.

Most of mine are fairly good at doing the basics and my revision sessions have had good attendance. Sadly many of them just don't have the intellect. Most are predicted D grades (generated by GCSE performance).

noblegiraffe Tue 13-May-14 22:16:17

My Y12s are really suffering from the lack of January modules. A lot of them who would have been given a kick up the arse by a failure in January are still thinking they can wing it. And they can't.

toomuchicecream Wed 14-May-14 18:38:33

Thank you all xx I have a terminally lazy 17 year old boy (yet to read all his set texts - exam Friday...). I've been worried sick about the number of phone calls etc from the school about his lack of homework. I feel so much better to hear that he's not the only one like that! (He under achieved to get a B at GCSE, so at least he can write coherent sentences...)

Giraffe - That is an excellent point, and, of course, losing AS will serve to make that problem even worse. Thanks, Mr Gove.

Esker Wed 14-May-14 22:06:48

We do AQA literature, although I'm interested in offering Lang/Lit also. Does anyone have experience of teaching both? I did Lang/lit myself at a- level and loved it.

I fear my school will object by suggesting literature is more prestigious. But does this really make a material difference when it comes to university applications? Few if any of ours will apply for English in any case.

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