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To think that fear of failure is holding back the UK (ie. schools)

(53 Posts)
ReallyTired Sun 21-Oct-12 15:21:44

Ie. teachers who choose to enter children for easy BTECs instead of GCSE, because they worry about league tables and think that its easier to get a middle to low ablity to child to pass the BTEC than get 5 GCSEs.

Many children who want to do 3 seperate sciences at GCSE are not being given the chance. Although a child can do A-level from the basis of double science, its more work. Surely a child who can achieve a level 6 in science by the end of year 9 should be given the option whether they do triple science or not.

Many primary schools do not bother preparing children for level 6 SAT papers. Or they ruin the entire year 6 making children do practice papers for their SATs. Ironically the children get less of an education as teachers refuse to take the risk of doing excess revising.

I think that schoools need to be encouraged to allow children to take risks and not see failure as the end of the world. Children need to realise that its better to try at something and fail than not to try. I feel that children should be taught how to cope with failure than be shielded from it.

I am not suggesting that children should be pushed to attempt things where there is no hope. However I think that many schools do not take risks because they are obcessed with their position in the league tables.

lljkk Sun 21-Oct-12 16:29:00

Sounds kinda pessimistic.

noblegiraffe Sun 21-Oct-12 17:50:35

Schools are obsessed with their league tables because if they do not meet their targets, Ofsted will swoop in, lives will be made hell, and there's the possibility that the school will be closed down and jobs will be lost.

If you want schools to take risks and not teach to the test, scrap the league tables.

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Sun 21-Oct-12 18:09:00

YANBU, but I don't think schools are to blame. They aren't left with much choice.

JakeBullet Sun 21-Oct-12 18:14:38

Schools might indeed be obsessed with their league tables but society has made them like this. Just witness the bunfight every year for the "best" schools.

MadamFollywillFreakyouout Sun 21-Oct-12 18:17:51

I'm lucky to be able to teach almost what I like in KS3 as long as it is related to the subject.

In KS4 this goes out the window and I teach the content that the exam board wants to see. I get the kids to do a 10 min practise question most weeks. We spend a lot of time going over the markscheme so the kids know how the squeeze the most marks out of every question.

If I were not to do this then my results would not match the rest of the school. I would come under incredible pressure from the Head who would be under pressure from the government and OFSTED.

What else can I do?

IslaValargeone Sun 21-Oct-12 18:19:45

I sometimes wonder if fear of achievement holds schools back.
Competition and striving for success seem to be dirty words in some places.

BoneyBackJefferson Sun 21-Oct-12 18:55:44

In order to get the schools to take the risks you would have to do away with league tables and to do that you would have to get the parents on side.

I would also like to know where your research for this comes from.

ReallyTired Sun 21-Oct-12 18:58:59


I agree with you. Some schools assume that certain groups of children cannot achieve and therefore don't even let them try. I believe that negative assumptions olds back groups like white boys, gypies, children with special needs and certainly in the past black children.

In order to strive for success you need to be ambitious. I find it depression that ds' teacher believe that its only possible for him to make 2 sub levels progress in an academic year that has not started. Children often make progress in spurts. Its awful that a teacher believes that a progress that a child can made is limited by what their grade prediction software states,

WofflingOn Sun 21-Oct-12 19:02:47

I think the government should leave schools alone for five years and then judge us.
Just stay the fuck away, and no new initiatives. The schools are producing the sausages that were ordered by those in charge. If you want risk and independence and resilience, then the end product will be different. Unacceptably so with regard to league tables.

kim147 Sun 21-Oct-12 19:04:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BoneyBackJefferson Sun 21-Oct-12 19:08:50


How would you phrase the risk of taking the triple to the parents of the child in question?

Feenie Sun 21-Oct-12 19:09:52

From what I learned on my Safer Recruitment course, he wouldn't even get a post, kim147!

Arisbottle Sun 21-Oct-12 19:11:28

I think things are changing, but sadly they are only changing in schools that are already excellent schools who therefore do not fear league tables and Ofsted.

I don't teach to a test and we are strongly discouraged from doing so, we are not a school at the top of the league tables because we don't play the game and enter students for the easier qualification . But we can only do that because we have quite an easy intake, we are rated outstanding and at worst would go down to a good. If we were a school fighting for its survival or with a tough intake things would be different.

Following on from what wafflingon said an outstanding school need not worry about a looming inspection because we are left alone unless something awful happens with results . So we can take risks etc. Schools on the radar are constantly inspected and therefore more likely to become a sausage factory.

However having spoken to colleagues who have recently been Ofsteded the inspectors seem to be less interested in jumping through hoops formulaic lessons than perhaps in the past.

Arisbottle Sun 21-Oct-12 19:13:25

Really tired I do not think that teachers only look for 2 sublevels a year, we do not stop encouraging once they achieve this. In reality it is not a yearly target but one for a key stage and in a good school it shouldn't become a ceiling on ambition. Of course to make it manageable it can be looked at yearly.

noblegiraffe Sun 21-Oct-12 19:26:16

reallytired I would be very surprised if a teacher said it was only possible for a child to make two sublevels progress in a year. Are you sure that's what they said?

2 sublevels is bandied about as the expected progress over a year because 2 levels over 3 years is what the government expects. That's not the same as 'limited to'.

bulby Sun 21-Oct-12 19:28:14

As a science teacher I can tell you that it is experience-not low expectations that makes me' advise many yr9 not to do triple science. There is more work to do in not proportionally more time. Every year there are any number of students who have parents who do not listen to my professional judgement and insist their child does separates. The result? I end up putting on workshops in my time, pupils become disillusioned and demotivated as they don't grasp yet another concept. Oh and that's the students who don't make a request change to double science after a couple of weeks.
It's precisely because there are high expectations that pupils who have just scraped a 6 are often advised against. It's also worth considering that pupils who do not have very good literacy simply do not understand the exam questions even if they can access the science.

TalkinPeace2 Sun 21-Oct-12 19:35:11

You read too much of the Daily Fail
and do not look to see what is happening at comps all over the country

it ain't perfect
but its a lot better than Gove would like to think

look at the data for 5 GCSE s in 2011
lots and lots and lots of schools did the right thing by their kids

ReallyTired Sun 21-Oct-12 19:35:40

Ds's school only helps children to prepare for a level 6 paper if they are already at level 5b at the start of year 6. Surely that is limiting progress as the level 6 paper is inaccessible unless the extra work is covered. Surely only preparing the children on the gifted and talented register is limiting ambition of a non gifted child who has a 5c. Prehaps the non gifted child could master the new topics if less time was spent revising old work and they had the chance to learn new and more interesting stuff.

Prehaps SATs revision could be limited to 2 weeks max. Ds has been lumbered with doing SATs paper since the summer term of year 5. Frankly I think this is utterly crap and has limited his mathematical progress. It has certainly turned off maths which I feel is incredibly sad.

Our local secondary only allow children in the top sets to do 3 sciences at GCSE. The reason being is that they do 3 GCSEs in the time that other children do GCSEs. Ironically some children in the top set might hate science and prefer to do the combined course.

bagofholly Sun 21-Oct-12 19:38:53


I spent a v interesting evening with the leader if a homeless charity who said that fear of failure is why a significant number if his clients ended up in the state they did. Their mind set is that failure of any type is utterly unacceptable and therefore have no toleration for when things don't go well, and can't stick at things through adversity, so end up with self destructive behaviours as it's more predictable in outcome than trying something different, and potentially failing.

noblegiraffe Sun 21-Oct-12 19:52:57

chance to learn new and more interesting stuff

Much as I can understand your frustration, reallytired I can also see the school's point. Level 6 in maths isn't new and more interesting stuff as such, it is the same stuff as at level 5 but harder. Maths is a spiral curriculum and the next level assumes knowledge of the previous level. If he can't do the level 5 work (and he is just scraping a level 5? which means he needs more practice) then shoving level 6 work at him isn't going help particularly. They can't put in everybody for the level 6 paper, so there has to be some sort of cut-off somewhere. Ensuring that his level 5 knowledge is solid will better serve him than sending him to secondary school with sketchy knowledge of both levels.

ReallyTired Sun 21-Oct-12 20:02:33

"They can't put in everybody for the level 6 paper, so there has to be some sort of cut-off somewhere"

Surely having the cut off limits ambition.

Clearly there is no point in putting a level 3 child in for a level 6 paper. However where should that cut of be? Naive me, thought that starting year 6 at 5c was a bloodly good preparation for secondary. Surely there is time for my son to have a bit of mathematical challenge in year 6 rather than consoldiating knowledge until he is bored to tears.

Children sometimes surprise adults. I think that key stage 1 was better managed where the papers were marked by the teachers. Children who surprised their teachers by doing better than expected were put into the level 3 paper. I believe a similar system at keystage 2 would allow a child who got an unexpected high 5a to be put in for a level 6 paper at the last minute.

The gifted and talented children are taught level 6 topics after school. Frankly my son would rather do karate. I feel that all the children should get exposure to level 6 work in lesson time.

TalkinPeace2 Sun 21-Oct-12 20:10:31

my kids school did not offer the level 6 paper at the time
so they both got 5a
and moved to secondary where they were retested to secondary standards
and are heading towards A* at GCSE and onwards

stop stressing SO much about a grade that only affects the school not your child.

Comp schools ignore SATS
So do selective schools.
Give poor little Tarquin a break

noblegiraffe Sun 21-Oct-12 20:12:24

Actually, what would probably be better is a level 4-6 paper, as they have at KS3, then all the bright ones get a shot.

But levels are being scrapped at primary, says Gove, so it's all short term anyway.

"I feel that all the children should get exposure to level 6 work in lesson time."

Why? Should they all also 'get exposure' to level 7 and level 8 work? What's the point of 'exposing' kids to work harder than they can actually do if they haven't actually managed the work building up to it? There's no point in exposing kids to finding the surface area of a cuboid (level 6) if they can't reliably find the area of a rectangle (level 5). If you see what I mean.

noblegiraffe Sun 21-Oct-12 20:17:01

And you can't be that bothered about level 6 if you'd rather your kid did karate than the extra classes. Feel sorry for the kids who are being pushed to achieve a level 6 by giving up extra curricular time to do it, when really it's not going to make that much difference come secondary anyway.

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