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taking GCSE's in yr 9 - what's your experience?

(43 Posts)
adelicatequestion Sat 10-Sep-11 18:17:12

My DD has just sat 3 GCSE's in yr 9.

At the start of yr7, she was predicted A/A* in every subject.

I am really against the schools policy of doing GCSE's in a year, especially as she was only 13 when she sat them. She didn't get any A/A* and I feel she has been denied the opportunity to achieve her potential.

Does anyone else have experience of schools doing GCSE's in a year. It's not because she's bright, it is done throughout the school for everyone.

Looking forward to a lively discussion on this......

Talker2010 Sat 10-Sep-11 19:06:55

My daughter took RS in Y9 and only achieved an A
I certainly did not think that her writing was mature enough to gain an A*

Tortu Sat 10-Sep-11 20:19:36

<furtively looking round hoping nothing I say will ever get back to my school>

I'd always want to know why it's being done. It is generally of very little benefit to the student, but impresses parents. Most colleges/ sixth forms won't accept students until they are 16, so what do the schools do with them until they reach that age? I certainly know of schools where the kids basically faff around. They tell the parents they are 'starting the A-Level course early', but that is only possible if they're not expecting any new students in the sixth form.
There is also no benefit to doing more than 9 GCSEs. I've yet to see that universities pay any attention to more than this at all.
Doing them in a year is, of course, possible and yeah, students can even get good grades. But have they benefitted from learning more about a subject and the enjoyment of pure learning? Probably not because it's been so fast they've spent their whole time learning about exam technique.

And the reality is, as you've found, that students often do a lot worse than if they'd waited until they were 16. This is not necessarily because they haven't been taught well or have failed to cover the material, but it is often because skills are cumulative and cross-curricular i.e. essay-writing in English benefits students studying RE. Analysis in History benefits students studying poems etc.

roisin Sat 10-Sep-11 20:24:07

I'm delighted that my boys are at a school that does almost all exams at the end of yr11, certainly none in yr9: for the same reasons. ds1's targets/predicted grades are extremely high. Although he could have 'passed' GCSEs at the end of yr9, he wouldn't have achieved the highest grades and there's also a tendency to cram the information/learning, rather than truly embed it and explore wider/deeper/around the subject, as you can if it's spread over a longer period of time.

Also many schools that do early GCSEs narrow the curriculum earlier as well.

It's very good for the school results though, because they can bank the Cs, especially in Maths and English, then focus on the students who haven't achieved those benchmarks yet.

DeWe Sun 11-Sep-11 14:39:27

I think I'm in agreement with you in that I don't see the point of a child sitting GCSEs (or other exams) early if they're not achieving A/A*. The exams are designed for children with the maturity of a 16yr old. I don't think it benefits the pupil, if anything it can be very discouraging.
Perhaps the exception is if a child has a interest in something which is not a core subject and wants to do GCSE in it, but doesn't want it potentially effecting their other subjects.

penguin73 Sun 11-Sep-11 15:11:43

We have this system where I work and we are all strongly discouraged from giving anything other than the party line to parents at the school when asked, the party line being that it is a fantastic opportunity. In my experience very few pupils are ready to do GCSEs so soon, the basics given in KS3 are vital for the majority of subjects to build on to get the higher grades at GCSE. Moreover very few 13 year olds have the maturity to apply themselves to the work/revision required and how sad that we are putting that pressure on them at that age. Schools are assessed on the number of A*-C achieved so are happy to push pupils through and get as many Cs as possible rather than taking the extra time to get what they are truly capable of. Our school will also not allow pupils achieving Cs to resit unless parents are really problematic, regardless of what they are told when choosing the school. The whole system is a mess and nothing to do with what is best for the majority of pupils. 70% of our staff would leave if we could because of this system.

webwiz Sun 11-Sep-11 16:03:26

I am very relieved that my DCs school is very anti early GCSEs. DS has just started year 10 and has done nothing yet. He is very bright and hard working but at the moment is prone to doing daft things in exams such as not actually reading the question properly, not turning the paper over and seeing the question on the back page. Fortunately he is learning not to do these things through internal exams and by gaining a bit of maturity.

adelicatequestion Sun 11-Sep-11 22:55:21

All very interesting comments and I'm glad you are mainly in agreement.

I am keen to stir up a whole hornets nest over this. My Dd year is the first to do this and I want it stopped before my other two children are drawn into.

penguin - it's interesting what you say about the party line because I am convinced the Head is pushing the teachers here to do it this way. But from a school perspective - is it purely results and league tables?

I know of several of DD friends, all who were predicted A/A* coming out with Bs and Cs.

This will be of no use to them when the universities are looking at Cs. They won;t say, oh but look you did this when you were 13!.

Time to take it further and complain to Head and Governers.

alice15 Mon 12-Sep-11 11:10:33

It's also telling that the schools at the very top of the league tables, which are focused on getting lots of A/A* grades, don't do this. My daughters are at a school in the top 50 for GCSE results nationally, and nobody does any mainstream GCSEs before the end of year 10 at the earliest. Those who have second language skills outside school might take a GCSE early, and most of them do something like half an RE GCSE at the end of year 10, for a bit of experience, but that's it - nobody does Maths or English or Science early, no matter how good they are at the subjects. It does seem such a shame to start the pressure so young - it goes on long enough and makes school hard enough for them all as it is.

adelicatequestion Thu 15-Sep-11 15:44:14

I am going to write my points in a letter to the head and governers.

TalkinPeace2 Thu 15-Sep-11 15:58:20

DDs school do very early GCSEs in two circumstances
- pupils who are multilingual do their "other" language in year 7 as then the timetable time can go to different subjects
- very bright pupils can take single maths early and then progress onto other forms of maths

ANY "essay" paper taken early is silly IMHO as young kids lack the brain chemistry maturity to answers in the way expected

penguin73 Thu 15-Sep-11 19:49:22

In my experience it is purely results and league tables - headline figures show percentage of pupils achieving A* to C rather than achieving potential so there is a massive incentive to push as many pupils to get Cs in Y9 and have time left to resit if they don't get the C - those that do then get to do another course resulting in maybe another C. So a school has a lot of pupils getting Cs which looks good in tables, their headlines figures are up and it doesn't seem to matter that many of those with lots of Cs could actually have 8 higher grades which would make them more competitive for college/university had they done a 3 year KS3 and had a proper basis for their exams.

empirestateofmind Mon 19-Sep-11 16:03:49

Students need plenty of As and A*s for their applications to top universities. Taking GCSEs early unless they are consistently getting these grades in past papers under exam conditions is a waste of time, effort and money. It will also count against the student when they are in Y13 and making their UCAS application.

I am aghast that schools are doing this. They are not putting their students first. At my school all GCSEs are taken at the end of Y11 (with the exception of those fluent in another language).

empirestateofmind Mon 19-Sep-11 16:08:10

PS our best mathematicians sit their AS maths at the same time as their maths GCSE in Y11. It works well.

iggly2 Fri 23-Sep-11 20:45:28

I would be furious. You take GCSEs etc early only if you are going to get topmarks (A/A*) .

This could count against anyone applying for competitive University courses. This could ruin important life chances.

At my school top maths group took GCSE 1 year early this was good practice for the following year and we all did well and it did not affect grades. I think it worked as maths does not require the maturity of essay subjects. Our maths was focused on and only 1 year in advance and we were coached for best marks (I am sure school would have removed applicants if grade was in doubt).

DialMforMummy Fri 23-Sep-11 21:49:31

Sadly, some pushy parents love it. And it makes the school look good (look at us, we are great).
Most of the time it's PR exercise.

slartybartfast Fri 23-Sep-11 21:54:05

surely if you take a gcse early, it gives more time to gain other gcses.

and surely the year that you passed the gcse is taken into consideration. thus looking positive.?

slartybartfast Fri 23-Sep-11 21:54:56

i look english lang in 4th year and lit in 5th year, although i see you are talkign about year 9, year 3 equivalent.
plenty seem to have early exams in year 10.

iggly2 Fri 23-Sep-11 22:03:28

The problem is with over subscribed courses there is so much competition forms are read quickly. Losing a grade in a few subjects will make a difference. Most of the people reading so many UCAS forms will not care when the exam was taken but only about the grade received. There is likely to be a rudimentary points system applied eg "must have over X number of GCSEs of over grade Y,and including subjects A, B, C at grade Y. All before even interviewing." They may minus points for bad grades.

iggly2 Fri 23-Sep-11 22:04:49

I would not let my child sit exams early if outcome was in doubt.

DialMforMummy Fri 23-Sep-11 22:06:34

The trouble is they won't necessarily re-shuffle the timetable to allocate more time for the other GCSEs but may encourage/tell the kids to do AS.
Do you want your child to do say AS maths the year they prepare their other GCSEs?
What if they are capable and willing to do AS maths and get a good grade but can't quite devote the time in Year 11 because of the other subjects and therefore under achieve at AS?
Worse still, if they want to do AS in Year 12 and don't do maths in Year 11 because they sat it early, then it will be a bit of a shock.

And no, the year when you took the GCSE is not taken into consideration.

ibizagirl Sat 24-Sep-11 08:56:00

My dd took her gsce maths at end of year 7 and she is 12 and got an A* along with another girl. They didn't get much of a well done from school as they were "expected to get those grades or thereabouts".They are both G&T. Now they are both in year 8 and are doing A level work. To be honest i can't see the point in doing them early and neither does dd but she will just go along with what school says. Its not as if they can go and get a job at 12! The school does tend to put them in early for exams and a lot are doing them by year 9 or 10 and the results have been quite good with this year's being exceptional. A lot of our local schools seem to be putting them in early.

themonalisa Sat 24-Sep-11 20:20:00

Too much pressure too young. Schools sacrifice childhood for league points.

iggly2 Sat 24-Sep-11 21:24:34

Ibiza girl maths is different (not need maturity and frankly the exam is now a joke). This is putting children in early for an exam when the extra time would get the child a better grade.

southeastastra Sat 24-Sep-11 21:26:15

blimey how grim is the comment 'My daughter took RS in Y9 and only achieved an A'

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