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Primary school benchmarks used to dictate GCSE selection and predicted grades

(27 Posts)
allyfe Thu 13-Feb-14 11:01:38

I found out yesterday that one of the local secondary schools uses the benchmarks (I think that is the right term) that children leave primary school with to determine a) what GCSE choices children are allowed to make at 13/14 and b) what grades they are predicted for those GCSEs! I was utterly horrified. They are supposed to totally ignore how well a child has been doing at the secondary school for the previous 2 1/2 years, and use the primary school benchmarks. I would be surprised if this were the only school doing it because it is such a shocking practice, but at the same time how is it possible that children's GCSE choices are defined by their performance in a test at age 10??? Does anyone else know if this is common practice? I am genuinely horrified and terrified that my child would be judged so definitively at such a young age.

TeenAndTween Thu 13-Feb-14 11:12:00

Certainly doesn't happen a DD1's school.

She was told her 'target' grade for GCSE maths/english based on her KS2 results, because I think that is something the school gets measured on. But she has different (higher) predicted grades.

GCSE options were completely open dependent on performance when she selected them in y9.

Are you sure you understood correctly??

allyfe Thu 13-Feb-14 11:16:32

I'm pretty sure I understood, and I'm pretty sure the parents got it correct. The parents were told that their child shouldn't be allowed to select what they wanted to do because of the low benchmarks, but that the department were going to break the rules because of the child's excellent performance in the subject. But the parents were also told not to broadcast the fact that they had broken the rules on this because there were other children who wanted to do the same thing but who weren't allowed to because of these benchmarks. For the predicted grade, they also said the same thing, they would ignore what the benchmarks said and were going to predict higher.

TeenageAdvice15 Thu 13-Feb-14 11:18:57

GCSE Target grades are predicted using the grades you got in your sats. My school uses this

BreconBeBuggered Thu 13-Feb-14 11:45:29

DS1 and I were gobsmacked towards the end of Y11 to hear a technical subject teacher tell him his predicted grade was A*, based on tests he'd done on entering the school. He'd previously been in a SATs-free system and though he vaguely remembered taking (I'm guessing) the CATs tests when he arrived at the school, he didn't think it was anything more significant than finding out which stream he should go into.

Anyway, he was totally crap and the subject in question, and the grade he got kind of ruined the visual impact of the rest of his results. He'd never shown any particular talent for it, but the school doggedly stuck to their original prediction. I felt sorry for the teacher, really.

tiggytape Thu 13-Feb-14 11:48:18

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ReallyTired Thu 13-Feb-14 12:27:48

Lots of secondary schools use pathways. Usually which pathway a child is put in is decided on intelligence tests, SAT results and primary school report. There is a lot of movement between different pathways in the first year of secondary as they get to know the children.

Having pathways is not as bad as think. If a child cannot read to level 4 standard then its more critical that they get remedial help with literacy than do a second MFL or triple science. Some children are more intelligence and learn more easily than others. Provided that there is flexiblity between pathways during year 7, I can't see the problem.

AmberTheCat Thu 13-Feb-14 12:31:09

Most sec schools use either KS2 SATs or, more often, CAT tests taken in Y7, to predict GCSE grades. This shouldn't be to pre-judge what a child is capable of, but rather to give an indication of what a child, all things being equal, should be able to achieve. This can then be used to judge whether the school has helped the child to make more or less progress than might be expected.

So I think it's absolutely fine, and right, for schools to use kids' achievement at KS2 to predict future outcome, but not to use it to determine them, if that makes sense?

allyfe Thu 13-Feb-14 12:32:52

Honestly, as far as I'm concerned performance on the SATs in primary school shouldn't mean anything by the time you are choosing GCSEs. The secondary school should have made their own assessment as to what they think a child will be able to do and what they won't be able to do.

It makes it sound as though teachers judgement is no longer allowed to be trusted, otherwise what sense is there in relying on measures from primary school for GCSE choices? The only time I would think they could be helpful would be if a child's performance slipped substantially, in which case the parent and school could use that as a basis for trying to find out why. But to have to use those as a guide for GCSE selection still horrifies me.

AmberTheCat Thu 13-Feb-14 12:51:20

Agree. Using them as predictors and using them to curtail children's choices are two very different things.

happymilly Thu 13-Feb-14 13:04:48

That sounds really scary. I mean a lot can change between 10 and 16 surely?

The reliance on predicted grade worries me as I do think that somehow it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you are told you are predicted an A do you put in more work to get it and if you are told you will only get a D then you might think why would you bother.

I'm sure when I did GCSEs (about 20 years ago) we were never even given a predicted grade so even if the teachers knew them they certainly did not make us aware of it. We were just expected to try our best and get the best grade we possibly could.

It feels like it becomes a frightening race from starting school at 4 years old to get the right predictions as they lead to higher grade. So if I understand it correctly if you get predicted "X" at KS1 then you are expected to get "Y" at KS2 and "Z" at GCSE so essentially your grade at 16 could have been based on an initial score you got at 6/7!

thehat Thu 13-Feb-14 13:38:12

As a secondary school teacher, I agree that it is ridiculous.

The subject I teach is not tested in the year 6 SATS, so the GCSE target grade for my subject is based on their KS2 English SAT result. This system is used for a number of other subjects, so a student has the same target grade for a range of non core subjects. It is a nonsense, and makes me really cross that Headteachers won't stand up and make this system change.

allyfe Thu 13-Feb-14 13:45:25

Happymilly I totally agree, it makes me feel like my YR DD is now under pressure because the SATs are not just used to increase school standards but to judge, categorize and limit children.

thehat I think that parents are actually unaware, almost until it is too late, that they system works like this. It annoys me that the creativity of curriculum has been taken from teachers with the imposition of the national curriculum, but the fact that their knowledge and understanding about a child's performance is totally ignored in favour of exam results that are 2 years out of date, that is unbelievable.

I also don't understand what is the point of providing a predicted grade before a child has even started their courses. It is madness. This whole education system is madness. For the first time in my life, I wish wholeheartedly that I had the money to be able to pay for private education. I did not go through that system, but surely it must be less horrendously limiting and judgmental than the state one?

agree that the whole education system is madness.

Have just been into school for Y6 DS to discuss how to help him get the "right" SATs (he could get to a 4b for English, which would be amazing s he is dyslexic, and really improve his future chances. And is on the cusp for a level 5 for maths, which I would really like him to get, for all the stupid and ridiculous reasons mentioned above!)

the stress! The idiocy! And the depressing fact that I go along with it and try to make the most of our chances in the current system, as I can't think how to fight the system.

thehat Thu 13-Feb-14 13:58:04

allyfe - I think you are correct about parents being unaware and I know at my school the staff are partly to blame for this, especially in KS3.

My students are so far off reaching their end of KS3 target (based on YR6 English SAT result) I don't discuss target levels at parents eve, as it would take all my time explaining the nonsense of this system. Neither do I want to associate myself with this system. I have no choice but to work within it.

I always feel sorry languages, as students are usually learning their subject, with a specialist teacher, for the first time ever on 2 lessons a week. Yet, they will have the same target grade as English, a subject they have studied for years, on 4 or 5 lessons a week.

Starballbunny Thu 13-Feb-14 14:25:34

thehat is right it's madness.

DD1 is dyslexic, she had a scribe for her English SAT, she got L5 by one mark.

Because of that 1 mark and the primary bending the rules to get her a scribe (when extra time like she gets now, would have been much closer to the rules) She's expected to get B for English (she'll be over the moon), B for music, which is possible (just), B for Geog, which she should get and A for RE (pigs will fly).

Conversely because she got L4 for maths, dyslexia and tables don't mix. Ofsted will be very happy if she gets Bs for science and maths (C would do), if she gets less than A/A* she'll be furious.

I know the system is supposed to stop the senior schools cheating and making excuses for poor performance, but when the primaries cheat (ok DDs case is unusual, but lunch time and after school cramming groups are not) it's a farce.

ReallyTired Thu 13-Feb-14 14:41:08

A good school never limits chldren. Imagine you have a bright dyslexic child who comes into secondary with level 2 English. (Ie. just like one of ds's friends) Ds' friend is getting 3 hours a week one to one/ small group lessons in reading with the SENCO, however the downside is that he is disapplied for MFL.

Sacrificing the chance to do an MFL GCSE in five years time is a good trade off for learning to read. Giving intensive remedial help takes time and if the remedial help is sucessful the child will have more opportunities rather than less.

spanieleyes Thu 13-Feb-14 18:01:06

My son was targeted A's for all his subjects, including PE and Art on the basis if his KS 2 SATs results and I was pulled into his secondary school at the end of year 7 to be told how disappointed they were in his achievement in some

spanieleyes Thu 13-Feb-14 18:04:43

Sorry message sent too soon!
I was pulled into school to have the staff explain how disappointed there were in his achievement in year 7 , in art, dt and PE where he had only achieved B/C s in their end of year tests. I told them that, given his severe dyspraxia it was amazing he had achieved that much and perhaps they should not base PE targets on Maths results, ( he never did get higher than a c in PE!)

Martorana Thu 13-Feb-14 18:09:20

Are people really sure about the limiting of options? I understand that early predictions are made based on lots of data, but I have never heard of a child being limited in his options because of year 7 data.

noblegiraffe Thu 13-Feb-14 19:05:08

Sounds like a lot of schools don't understand statistics. FFT grades are for an average child fitting certain characteristics. If you apply those averages to a large cohort of children then you can assess whether that large cohort is generally overachieving or underachieving compared to the average.

Individual grades should not be used to benchmark individual children. It's nonsense. Some children will achieve their FFT, some will beat it and some will miss it entirely due to statistics and nothing to do with them not working hard enough or whatever.

The maths departments of those schools should be having a word with the head. At my school we know what the FFTs are for each child, and we, as a school, and (more controversially) as class teachers are measured against that. The kids don't have a clue. They have their target grades, but whether they match the FFT or not is entirely down to the teacher and what they have targeted for that child based on their knowledge of that child.

I found this old thread highly informative

AmberTheCat Fri 14-Feb-14 10:54:11

Exactly, noblegiraffe. How predicted grades and progress measures should be used is to judge schools on how well they're helping kids to reach their potential. If you just judge a school on the children's achievements, it doesn't recognise the significantly harder time schools in deprived areas have as compared to their leafy counterparts.

Imo predicted grades should be used at a cohort level for this purpose, and not discussed with individual children.

ReallyTired Fri 14-Feb-14 11:35:42

OFSTED don't see social deprivation as an excuse for low attainment anymore.

"Imo predicted grades should be used at a cohort level for this purpose, and not discussed with individual children."

I agree. Children should be encouraged to reach for the stars.

However tracking progress of individual children can help to spot problems when done well.

Frikadellen Fri 14-Feb-14 11:46:03

Dd1sis inbyear 11 and every year we get a congrats on exceeding her targets. Metter from her school. She was predicted Ds snd is doing Bs and As to me it has been a complete mess up. Dd doesn't preform well kn tests and it showed in her year 6sats. School and I have found some mutually agreed targeta for her. But officially she is expexted D.s due to kne test years ago..

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