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Modular Science GCSEs

(21 Posts)
BubbleBathAddict Tue 27-Sep-11 22:57:40

My son's school is entering the year 10 top set for 2 science modules this term, in about a month. They are doing 3 sciences and studied B1 and C1 last year apparantly.

Does anyone know why this needs to be done so early? School are saying we don't have the right to withdraw him and leave it until next term. I think it's simply easier for them to have the whole class doing the same exam at the same time.

He has very little clue about what he's doing, and got less than 50% in the mock exams. No-one did especially well. It's a state school and seems not to care much about the grades as long as the kids get their 5 grade Cs.

What would happen if he were to be 'ill' on the exam days?

Thank you. This is stressing me out massively.

cat64 Tue 27-Sep-11 23:03:25

Message withdrawn

circular Wed 28-Sep-11 08:29:38

DD1 (also yr10) school did unit 1 of core science (B1,P1,C1) at the end of Yr 9. They take unit 2 (B2,C2,P2) in January and there is a CA as well which makes up the first GCSE. This was the whole year, not just top sets.

When we questioned it, we were told it was because of the syllabus change, and they could retake if we weren't happy with the grades. Although we have since found out you need to pay to do so.

This us less of an issue for those taking triple as they will do (ie for biology) B1,B2,B3 - unit 1, B4,B5,B6 - unit 2.
So it"s the ones just taking core and additional that may lose out.
Which modules is your son taking this term?

As it happens, DD got an A for the unit 1 core (after a U in the mock, and predicted B). Guess it worked as a bit if a wake up call sitting a real GCSE at 13.

I'm still against these early sittings though, and she is saying Unit 2 is much more difficult...

Kez100 Wed 28-Sep-11 12:54:59

Modular exams do start early. Top set or bottom set!

My daughter had two exams (out of eight total) in January of year 10. Three in June of Year 10. Due the final three in January of year 11. In June 2011 - what is considered the normal exams dates for us oldies - she will sit however many of the eight she needs to resit (currently, at least 2 of the 5 were pretty poor.)

noblegiraffe Wed 28-Sep-11 17:33:12

Modules are meant to be sat throughout the course. Our lot our sitting their first maths module in November (started studying for it end of Y9), the second in June, then the third (which is worth the most) June of Y11. This spreads them out quite nicely in terms of course content, and gives plenty of opportunity for resits.

BubbleBathAddict Wed 28-Sep-11 18:40:01

We have been told that resits are discouraged, and top Universities don't like resits.

Why not just wait a bit?

I don't think they are doing any maths early.

Are there any secondary teachers out there on MN please?

What happens if your child is 'ill'?

Grammaticus Wed 28-Sep-11 18:44:24

If you look on the TeS forums a lot of teachers seem to be against these early modules. It's also interesting that independent schools don't seem to do them so often. But I don't know what would happen if your DC were "ill", sorry.

noblegiraffe Wed 28-Sep-11 18:49:45

Top universities would be hard pushed to find out if a student resat the odd module at GCSE.

In maths (I assume it is similar in science) there is no point in 'waiting a bit' because they cover the material for module 1, sit module 1, then start the material for module 2, sit module 2, then same for module 3. If they wait to sit module 1, they would be learning stuff for module 2 (the curriculum has to fit into the time available), then going back and revising stuff for module 1 that they haven't studied in a while before sitting the module 1 exam, then going back to module 2 and doing that - or sitting module 1 and module 2 at the same time which means trying to revise a lot more content in one sitting.

If your child is 'ill' then they would have to sit the module at the next sitting. But they wouldn't have the benefit of revision sessions, mocks and preparation up to their module sitting because the rest of the class will be plowing on with the rest of the course.

TheFallenMadonna Wed 28-Sep-11 18:53:50

If your child is "ill" they will take the exam in the next examination series (usually Jan/Jun, but I think EdExcel have 3 exam series, Nov/Mar/Jun IIRC).

However, the teaching and revision programme will be geared towards taking the module with everyone else. Of course it's easier to have everyone doing it at the same time! Our year 10s will take their first exam in January for (Core) Science, but not until June for those taking individual (triple) Sciences.

noblegiraffe Wed 28-Sep-11 18:58:05

this article talks about universities and resits - it is just A-level they are concerned about.

bulby Wed 28-Sep-11 19:04:56

There is a new spec for current year 10. Assuming your sons teaching started in year 9 he might be doing the old spec, the modules of which are still available for current year 11 who either missed or are retaking. These exams will not be available after this year. A % score is meaningless as it depends on the tier of exam and indeed the specific exam as to which grade that will tally with. Universities would NOT be able to tell on these modules if they were resit. If your child the misses his module he will have to do it in the next round, this is not a good idea as it will just be a longer time since the vcontent was taught so he is likely to fo worse. Any pupils taking the new spec are allowed up to one resit, the latest score will count regardless of whether it is higher or lower.
I would appreciate it if people would not make flippant comments like 'it's a state school, they only care about getting c'. It's actually very offensive and nothing could be further from the truth, each kid has individual targets and there is a lot of pressure to meet/ exceed them. I've worked in both private and state, the pressure to reach individual targets is was much higher in state.

HauntedLittleLunatic Wed 28-Sep-11 19:21:57

Ok...trainee science teacher....so be gentle with me.

Firstly AFAIK single subject biology is b1, b2 and b3 there is no b4-6 so I don't understand the post from circular. Also b1, c1 and p1 make up the first gcse and c2, p2 and b2 make up the additional.

Wrt taking them early it is not the way yet are designed to be done but a huge amount of schools do start them early for a number of reasons. Sometimes as a pr excercise - we are great we have pupils in yr9 acheiving gcses. Sometimes to spread learning out over a longer time. Sometimes to allow time for resits.

In this particular academic group it may be due to the change in specification that comes into force for those starting this Sept. Now I am not 100% sure on this but I don't think he will be allowed to do exams from this course in yr11 because it won't exist - and if that is the case they might be pushing them thru so they get the benefits of the current specification. Again not 100% sure on the details but don't think those that are starting this sept get the benefits of modular exams as I know there was talk of only having end of year exams.

Sorry there are a few uncertainties in that. I am posting from phone and can't look stuff up easily. I hope someone more k.owledgeable will be along soon.

kritur Wed 28-Sep-11 20:33:26

I taught science for 6 years (am on sabbatical as a university lecturer). What syllabus is he following, I'll try and interpret it for you.

If he were ill then there is nothing they can do, they will ring you at home if you've not rung in to report the absence but he will just sit the exam in the next series (science only have january and june series). That said the school should be gearing up their teaching for a january assessment so there will be fewer revision sessions etc offered by the school if you chose for him not to sit it.

I hate all these modules, bring back terminal assessment!

circular Wed 28-Sep-11 20:38:38

HauntedLittleLunatic - Not sure what board your school does, but there is defintiely B4,B5,B6 for the 2nd unit of separate Biology in OCR.

http://www.ocr.org.uk/qualifications/type/gcse_2011/gateway/biology_b/documents/index.html

BubbleBathAddict Wed 28-Sep-11 22:40:03

He is doing EdExcel new syllabus. The textbooks were only printed in May. He studied B1 and C1 in year 9.

They are taking these modules in 5 week's time.

I apologise if I've offended any teachers, I didn't mean to do that. But this school is a very disappointing Comprehensive. Disappointing at so many levels. Certainly in science (and I have 3 science + 2 maths A levels myself) the teachers seem very lazy. Very little written down in books, almost no homework for an entire year.

They are supposedly revising. Great in principle, learn it, get tested, done and dusted.

But they have had no homework yet this term, nothing is written in exercise books, no practice papers, no feedback or advice from the teacher. On last year's report the box for a science grade was just plain empty! The teachers by and large do not respond (however briefly) to emails. Yes I'm sure they get bombarded.

I only got the dates of the exam by looking them up for myself and then the Head of Science took 6 days to confirm this information. The school hasn't bothered to let us know.

Plenty of parents seem to have fixed up tutors for science, so the school will happily reap the glory of those A* I'm sure.

Is it the modern way to learn science by discussion only with no written work? Am I old fashioned to be appalled that my son cannot even use a basic formula (no idea about units being standardised, no idea how to make another quantity the 'subject' of the formula?).

TheFallenMadonna Wed 28-Sep-11 22:48:00

We do very little note taking TBH. We would be slated in an observation if we did for a start, and it's not very engaging in a lesson. But they do writing. All the new specs have a requirement for extended answers, so it's in our own interests to get them to practise!

The new spec GCSEs have been a rush because the specs were only accredited around Easter. For schools starting in year 9, it was a bit of a struggle I think.

You will be able to download the specimen papers and mark schemes from the Edexcel website, plus IIRC their specifications are very detailed indeed and will help him with revision.

Five weeks is still a reasonable time for them to get going with revision in lessons I think.

webwiz Wed 28-Sep-11 23:02:21

DS has just started year 10 and I would say his science teaching is very good. They do discuss things in class but he has lots of notes in his exercise book and has science homework several times a week. He covered the work for B1 and P1 in year 9 and has done practice module papers for these this year. They are working on C1 at the moment, I'm not sure when he takes the exams but we have a meeting at school in a couple of weeks and it will be outlined then.

There is usually a lot of information on the exam board websites with sample papers and mark schemes even if its a new specification. If you have a science background yourself you should be able to go through the papers with him and clear up any lack of understanding. Part of doing well in the science modules is exam technique and being familiar with how the questions will be asked.

noblegiraffe Wed 28-Sep-11 23:12:15

Just be aware that if it's a new syllabus there won't be many practice papers so the teachers might be holding them back till closer to the exam. It'll be a bit frustrating for them if they issue them as a test or mock and your child has already done them and gone through all the answers with you as they then won't be able to assess properly.

Kez100 Thu 29-Sep-11 04:12:01

Just in answer to your questions: my daughter takes notes in class and ends up with an A4 exercise book full per module. She also knows how to rearrange a formula/expression to make something else the subject from Maths (she is year 11 but a foundation paper student, so it's taught only to high level students).

Kez100 Thu 29-Sep-11 04:13:15

Sorry, that should be:

So it's not only taught to high level students 

mummytime Thu 29-Sep-11 07:52:57

From my experience (AQA admittedly) there is material in C1 etc. which is not covered again in C2 etc.  This tends to be soft application type stuff, eg. how would they test for pollution in a river.
Also the results of these modules can be used to re group the students, so those who need to resit, can be put in a slower class than those who get A* first time.

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