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Genuinely worried about Y7 DS and Gove's new 'O' levels...

(81 Posts)
Erebus Tue 11-Jun-13 09:04:26


DS stands a good chance of getting the golden 5 GCSEs inc Eng and Maths, providing I apply constant, low-grade pressure to him, as will his school, to help him achieve this. He always puts in top effort but simply isn't particularly academically gifted.

I can confidently say he will fail 'tougher exams'. He will be unable to access a 6th form (given that they aren't just about A levels alone, any more), or an apprenticeship.

Unfortunately, having dodged the bullet of Gove's 'new style' GCSEs as proposed a few months ago with his year as the guinea pigs, here we go again. If this gets toppled, Gove has, on his 'new education overhaul plan, issued every 6 months' average, 4 more chances to fuck up my child's educational future.

As DS will be in this guinea pig year, and we can be absolutely sure Gove will insist that the results demonstrate 'new rigour' i.e. fewer passes, there are unlikely to be any 'alternatives' in place to help DS and similar DC on their way- I mean, like the current slow but steady growth of higher level apprenticeships and so forth springing up to accept the DC who can no longer take the risk of the debts of a university degree without guaranteed, reasonably well paid at the end. One Day One of our DCs' emerging, blinking, from this brave new tough-GCSE world, where they, as a result of their 'fails', cannot access 6th form or apprenticeships (as these colleges will be a good year or so, minimum, behind performing the entrance requirement 'regrade' they'll have to do to get kids through their gates)- what will become of them? No amount of media hand-wringing or cold, sober analysis of the first year of results will compensate our DCs for the educational dead end they may find themselves at, all as a result of a trumped up, egotistical, arrogant, self-aggrandising Minister who rides roughshod over decades of hard-won, evidence-based 'good practice' to force a nation's state-educated children emulate what he sees as being his own, unsurpassable 'education'.

DeWe Tue 11-Jun-13 09:23:24

If you read down the article, it's starting studying them in 2015, the first set of exams will be in 2017, so he won't do them.

Dd1 is year 7 and the one exam at the end would suit her much more, so would have quite liked her to do it. It will be in though for dd2 who would suit the old system better.

CatherineofMumbles Tue 11-Jun-13 09:28:32

Another Gove bashing thread. So predictable.

mumsneedwine Tue 11-Jun-13 09:38:27

The current year 7 will be the first year to take them. I am going to wait and see what is actually being proposed, but if its one exam then a lot of kids are going to get very low marks. You are right, Gove will ensure they are marked v hard and top grade boundaries will be limited. BUT he might not be there in 2017 so who knows ???

Erebus Tue 11-Jun-13 09:38:41

Catherine- where are your counter-arguments? Your evidence-based rebuttals? Your carefully crafted deconstructions and explanations?

Same place as Gove's are? From the same stable as Gove-think?


annh Tue 11-Jun-13 09:51:39

I have a Yr7 ds as well and am sick of our children being used as political pawns by Gove. While his older brother would do well with single end of year exams, ds2 will struggle. It would help if he had always worked to this system but his entire school career so far has been based on modular topics, coursework and project-based homework. I'm not saying that is right or wrong or that there shouldn't be more rigour in the exams but ds2 has simply never been taught in that fashion and is going to struggle hugely to turn his mind-set around to this! It's a completely different method of learning and examination for which our children have not been prepared. You might think that four years should be enough to get them into this frame of mind but given that there have been so many u-turns, and undoubtedly more to come, I don't think schools even know what they should be teaching or how to go about it!

titchy Tue 11-Jun-13 09:53:07

DEwe - do the maths - year 7s will be taking their exams in 2017!!!

slug Tue 11-Jun-13 10:18:12

The new GCSEs will favour boys anyway.

<<conspiracy theory alert>>

It's well acknowledged in teaching circles that coursework favours girls. They are, as a rule, socialised to be more compliant and are far easier to squeeze coursework out of. I can only speak from 12 years experience teaching GCSEs but in my experience, girls will produce something for coursework. The students who are reluctant, slow or provide something skeletal at the last possible moment are almost invariably boys. Consequently girls tend to go into the exams with a better buffer of grades. Boys, on the other hand, tend (and this is only a tendency) to be better at pulling something out of the hat when it comes to exams. (I don't think exams were designed by someone who ever had to sit through several hours of concentration with period pains or a heavy bleed.)

There has been an increasing moral panic about the way boys grades have been dropping in comparison to boys. By eliminating the part of the qualification that favours girls, I wonder if the grade average of boys will improve?

<<dons hard hat>>

<<admits cynicism after too many years at the chalk face>>

mumsneedwine Tue 11-Jun-13 10:36:19

Slug, I had the exact same thought ! We have had meeting in school this morning and now all busy researching IGCSEs for 2017. Ah the mess this is going to cause - so many different exams in one country is going to be ridiculous.
My poor year 10s are so confused as their exam has been changed half way through.
I have has 14 emails this morning on new directives on current exams for next year.
Leave it alone politicians and just let the kids learn. Teachers do know what they are doing (contrary to Gove's opinion).
If he had ever done it for a living then maybe I would have some respect. I heard that other idiot with the free school in London the other day saying how lazy tea we were, what with a day of 9-3 and all those holidays. I work 50hrs a week in term time (& I am part time on a .5) and have 4 weeks holiday a year.

Erebus Tue 11-Jun-13 11:37:07

Re boys v. girls; our (highly regarded, v. MC!) comp has managed to keep the boys up with the girls' performance during the years of modularity. Though I have boys, I very much hope this same school can suddenly do an about face, chuck out all the years of focused experience they've accrued in finding out and utilising how to keep boys 'up to speed' in coursework based GCSEs- and suddenly, out of the blue, instantaneously come up with a way of keeping the girls' performance up with the boys in the new style linear GCSEs.

Good luck with that.

Erebus Tue 11-Jun-13 11:38:23

mumsneedwine - are you saying your school is looking at changing from GCSEs altogether in favour of iGCSEs?

TeenAndTween Tue 11-Jun-13 12:10:42

My DD1 is currently in y9 so will be one of the last to take GCSEs.
- she won't be one of the first years in the new system while they bed it down
- the imo crazy system for some of the controlled assessments suits her learning ability
- having exams / controlled assessments spread out does take off some pressure in the final summer

- the crazy system for some of the controlled assessments means that she won't be learning as many useful skills as under the new system.
- having exams / controlled assessments spread out means constant pressure throughout Y10 & Y11.
- slow starters, like my DD, have to be performing from early Y10 in their controlled assessments

What do I mean re crazy system for controlled assessments?
- for languages, as far as I can tell, the written paper is prepared in advance, corrected by the teacher, learned off by heart, and then reproduced in controlled conditions.
- for languages, the oral is prepared in advance, learned off by heart, spouted out for the exam, followed up with 1 non-prepared questions and answer.
- similarly for some aspects of English GCSE
To me this doesn't make sense.

I also think distinguishing A/A* into more levels make sense seeing as how many A/A* are currently awarded. (Not that i am anticipating my DD getting any).

I agree re concerns on college applications, as there is no guarantee that the new 4 (or whatever) will equate to the old C. With my optimistic side however I hope that colleges may be a bit more flexible on their entrance criteria, as after all they want to fill their courses.

lainiekazan Tue 11-Jun-13 12:25:00

Agreed. The controlled assessments are farcical.

And I've just been looking at a practice Gcse chemistry paper with ds and I simply can't believe how easy it is - little real science. I could do the paper based on general knowledge - I have no science background at all.

scaevola Tue 11-Jun-13 12:26:44

Well, there have been a number of changes since GCSEs were introduced by the Thatcher government, so that some cohorts of children were the first ('guinea pigs') is a regular occurrence.

The style of exam being propsed doesn't worry me, and I suspect not many my age, as they are going to be so similar to O level/CSE, and we know by our own experiencearhat passing 9 or so exams by final papers over three or so weeks one summer is achievable.

What worries me is wider governmental competence. The Thatcher government trialled, refined and re-piloted the new GCSE for several years before rolling it out, and that was a government which was generally more administratively competent than its successors. This lot do not seem to be able to execute policy at an adequate standard - neither did New Labour, so there is a too-long legacy of bumbling through, rather than rigour, and that afflicts current mandarins as much as those in government.

mumsneedwine Tue 11-Jun-13 12:39:49

Yes, we are looking at all iGCSE. It changes less and is a more stable exam.
I liked the post that says there have been 'some changes' ! There have been hundreds !!!!! This year alone there were numerous changes to curriculum, exam procedures and grade boundaries. Some are good but a lot are just knee jerk changes which will be changed again next year. It's bonkers. I do agree that exams had become too easy in some areas but why not just make them harder ?? Why so many changes ? Poor kids - who wants to be the first year to take these. First year of GCSE was a nightmare.

prh47bridge Tue 11-Jun-13 13:32:18

why not just make them harder

Politics, I think.

Changing the name of the exam and moving from lettered grades to numbered grades signals a break with the past more clearly than simply making the exams harder. It also covers up the fact that not much else is changing - modular GCSEs were already being phased out and controlled assessment was already being reduced. So if you take away the name changes all that was really announced today is that they are making the exams harder in some subjects. That probably wouldn't have got much coverage in the press on its own. Re-announcing some existing changes and throwing in a name change results in far more column inches.

He will be unable to access a 6th form (given that they aren't just about A levels alone, any more), or an apprenticeship

I think you are assuming the grades required to access these things will remain the same. If fewer pupils achieve top grades on the new exams 6th forms and other providers will either have to lower their entry requirement or have fewer students. Since fewer students equals lower income my guess is that the overwhelming majority will lower their entry requirement.

chicaguapa Tue 11-Jun-13 13:46:04

This new GCSE is just the EBacc but with a different name. I don't think he's changed anything at all from the failed proposals that he supposedly did a u-turn on. hmm

I am astonished as to why he's still in the post given that he's received a vote of no confidence from three teaching unions, including the headteachers who rarely get involved in politics. And yet no-one's taking any notice and he's still there!

as a result of a trumped up, egotistical, arrogant, self-aggrandising Minister who rides roughshod over decades of hard-won, evidence-based 'good practice' to force a nation's state-educated children emulate what he sees as being his own, unsurpassable 'education'

Funny how he wants to emulate something that didn't provide him with the tools to do his job properly, isn't it? hmm

Erebus Tue 11-Jun-13 13:53:13

grin chica

prh - I think the issue will be that how can the 6th from colleges and apprenticeship providers set 'an entry level' when they don't know what, exactly, is being tested, how it is being tested, let alone if it's even going to be possible to 'do an equivalence' between GCSE 'A-E' and GCSE '8-1'? Especially bearing in mind this government has worked hard to stamp out 'equivalence'?

I foresee that our DC will all be given really, really provisional offers and there'll be a lot of surprises and upsets.

retiredgoth2 Tue 11-Jun-13 13:55:38

Move to Wales??

(They have said NO to Gove levels...)

Also concerned- as my twins are also year 7. The only non special needs kids from a total of six- so I am perhaps over invested in them...

Ruffello Tue 11-Jun-13 14:14:33

In English literature, responding to concerns that pupils were only reading chunks of books, the exam questions will be designed to ensure that pupils have read the full work.
The course content will include at least one play by Shakespeare, a selection of work by the Romantic poets, a 19th Century novel, a selection of poetry since 1850 and a 20th Century novel or drama.
I agree with the proposed changes to English Lit. My love of literature and reading stemmed directly from the in depth analysis of 4 whole works ranging from Shakespeare to Steinbeck when I did my O levels back in the 70s. Neither of my DCs had to read a book in its entirety for English GCSE, which I still find bizarre, and neither of them have any interest in reading for pleasure now.

hardboiled Tue 11-Jun-13 17:08:33

I am not a Give supporter, but the boys-girls conspiracy theory is very silly.
As a mother of a boy who works hard all year and produces good course work and as a woman who found it easy to nail a final exam, I find this gender comparisons tiring and boring.

hardboiled Tue 11-Jun-13 17:09:29

Gove not give.

tiggytape Tue 11-Jun-13 17:13:43

My DS is Year 7 too.
I think my worry is that schools aren't geared up for this in terms of attitude or experience. My DS's school is very much into projects, there are few end of year exams, they dip in and out of English texts much more often than they read whole works and there's lot of focus on group work. None of this is going to be particularly relevant to the new style exam system.

DS will definitely do much better at final exams than course work or assessments but I am still worried that it will represent such a huge shift in school attitudes and approaches that some subjects might manage preparing students for this better than others.

Also am I the only one that assumed a 1 would be better than an 8 in the new grading system - it seems back to front to me (since normally an A1 in anything is the best and an E5 is the worst)

HabbaDabbaDoo Tue 11-Jun-13 17:37:58

90% of the kids at DS's school got GCSE grade A in the core subjects in 2012. Clearly the exams as it stands aren't challenging for some kids.

I'm sorry that some of your DCs will go from an expected 'B' to a 5 or a 6 but the exams being more difficult for your DC to get a high sounding mark isn't really a valid argument.

Copthallresident Tue 11-Jun-13 17:48:26

ruffello you were pretty unique in my experience, memorising and regurgitate great chunks of stuff out of Cole's notes was quite enough to get a 1 in my 70s English Lit O Level, AND a B at A level, (which of course in the nostalgic world of illusions of superiority is an A* in the modern currency) and the exams only got in the way of actually engaging with the text. My DDs have had to really engage with the text and be able to apply skills of literacy criticism even at GCSE and I could not have begun at 17 how Hardy's work reflects the conflict he felt between Darwinism and the primitive relationship with nature. I am quite sue you couldn't either, because the importance of contextual analysis was not appreciated then. Fascinating though smile

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