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Help, how to change GCSEs at the end of Y10 ?

(78 Posts)
HisMum4now Fri 10-May-13 16:54:17

Ds with SEN in grammar school is struggling with English and Literature, which are both compulsory. He was left behind by the school in those subjects for the last 3 years and now there is simply no time to catch up. He has 6 hours per week of those lessons at school and he sits there not understanding anything. The school advises to take a tutor, but it is not possible to compensate with a tutor for the 6 hours he is wasting at school. This time is taken away from his good subjects that really matter. We just had mock exams, which clearly shown that even with a tutor the Literature cannot be done. It gets nowhere and compromises his good subjects: he didn't have time to revise, was too tired. He also has a DT subject that is not looking good and taking disproportionate amount of time.

I understand that normally you just bite the bullet and get on with those subjects because employers want them. However we crossed the bridge where those appearances can be saved. The dilemma now is to get an E in Literature and C grades in all other subjects, or to cut the losses and to get on with the Maths and Sciences where he gets his A* at the moment. In the future he wants to study Maths at uni and he looks perfectly capable to do this if he stops wasting time on things he doesn?t get because of his SEN.

Although the school says that Literature is compulsory, I asked uni admissions and they say it is not - they don't need it.
So ideally we would drop Literature and DT and would take further maths instead.

Is it technically possible at the end of Y10? What is the deadline?
What to do if the school doesn't offer those alternative subjects?
Is there a further maths GCSE where one could enrol outside of school?

Vivacia Sat 11-May-13 14:10:14

I said I think you are naive about the conditions of our schools and the pressure teachers are under. I should have clearly said "working conditions", but I don't feel you have addressed my point in your reply. I don't for a second have a reason to think you are naive about parenting.

You say the school haven't acted for three years, but what have you done about his learning of English Literature? I suspect you've done a lot in terms of helping him with his homework, reading with him and discussing fictional characters in films etc. I suspect both you and the school have done the best you can for him.

netherstowey Sat 11-May-13 17:00:11

I think you will find that under the present GCSE arrangements it is not possible to simply enter GCSE English Language without also gaining a grade in English Literature. The Lit grade is irrelevant , but without a Lit grade the Language will not be awarded. Anecdotally, I have read of schools spending hours on Language skills and ignoring the Literature syllabus ,not expecting C or better grades in Literature, in the hope of a C in Language.At the moment , there is a qualification called GCSE English which combines lang and lit. Maybe your son could be entered for this specification . It does have considerable lit. elements and different controlled assessment pieces,so the school might not plan for a group taking this course. I think that this combined course will not continue when the revised GCSE specifications are published. The target group for English GCSe was C/D borderline students.

Nether - I keep saying that! smile

OP - It would be easier to be entered for the Lit even if he does badly in it, than to have to start the English single award now. And if the school hasn't already got a group doing single award, I doubt they'd be able to offer it just for one pupil.

netherstowey Sat 11-May-13 17:09:56

Absolutely,Remus. Just sacrifice the Lit grade in the hope of a Lang grade.This ,of course, is hard for a conscientious year 11. Who would go into an exam knowing the result would almost certaily be poor?

True - but better than getting nothing and having to do it again in college.

netherstowey Sat 11-May-13 17:16:21

The pragmatic approach1

creamteas Sat 11-May-13 17:45:44

Not sure if it is all exam boards but with AQA English Lang and Lit GCSEs are linked but it is onesided.

So you can take English Language on its own (and it does count).

But you can't take English Literature on its own without Language (unless post-16).

Lots of DC take Language alone at my DCs school.

HisMum4now Sat 11-May-13 19:13:08

The point is we can't continue spending time on Literature- doing homework and controlled assessments. It takes disproportional amount of time at the expense of good subjects. The school is pressuring us just to carry on. I receive emails every week reminding me of how much homework is outstanding, how much everything is very important ... It just can't be done.

EvilTwins Sat 11-May-13 19:23:02

I really do think you need to go into the school and discuss this. The only person who can really explain what needs to be done is the English teacher/HOD. There are a number of exam boards and a number of options, and obviously none of us know what is actually being taught in your DS's school.

Ilovegeorgeclooney Sun 12-May-13 19:46:30

You cannot take English Language alone only English. It is a requirement that all pupils study a Shakespeare text, a prose text and poetry so GCSE English involves CA on each, Eng Lang involves just a CA on an extended reading text because the other elements are studied for Lit.

I teach an autistic boy with speech difficulties and his main difficulty is the Speaking and Listening element. However he does look as if he achieved a B in January, they haven't given a grade yet, but I know that he listened to the literature texts and I recorded key lessons and his parents went through them with him. He is doing the Literature exams this month and will hopefully get a C but it has been hard. Try and arrange a meeting with both the SENCO/HOD for English to sort out options.

creamteas Sun 12-May-13 20:40:39

You cannot take English Language alone only

Yes, you can. It is a stand alone GCSE.

It might not count in the school performance measures, but it is fine for the student studying the exam.

HisMum4now Sun 12-May-13 20:53:32

I will certainly find out whether legally one can take English language alone - i.e. would it count if DS doesn't attend the Literature exams and CAs.

HisMum4now Sun 12-May-13 21:05:42

Some of the latest comments made me think of another aspect.

DS put huge time and effort in Literature controlled assessment, which looked very decent to me (home draft) but the teacher marked it a D. I asked to explain why and got boggled up the incomprehensible intricacies. They refused to show me the paper because it would invalidate it for the exam board. The sense that I got was that the teacher marked DS versus the very high benchmark of other grammar school students. The tutor, who works in a comprehensive, looked at DS work and couldn't see why it was a D.

I don't want to stir a conflict with the school or diminish the high standards... But is there any way I could ensure DS's work is marked appropriately against other students across the country?

The exam board procedure states "Talk with the school about your concerns". It is the school who can start the appeal. So I don't know how to act and whether it is a worthy avenue?

Well it shouldn't be marked in grades at all, but in bands. And then the board will moderate the teacher's assessment. Grades are not awarded until the end of the course now.

HisMum4now Sun 12-May-13 21:16:37

The school gave me a percentage - 40%. They explained that some of the points he made in the paper were not credited for reasons I didn't fully absorbed. The question is would a different teacher in different school give credit for those other points because he wouldn't be pedantic about expecting to see all that high level stuff she was teaching and that my DS "didn't give back" as it were.

TheFallenMadonna Sun 12-May-13 21:24:30

CAs are moderated. If the school is over- or undermarking, this will be picked up. We can't give specific feedback on CAs, only general.

I don;t teach English, but I assume it's the same.

And yes, no grade boundaries until results day!

Ilovegeorgeclooney Mon 13-May-13 11:42:57

I hate to be a pedant but Literature has to be taught to pupils at KS4. They don't have to pass it but they do have to be taught it and be entered for a qualification where it will be assessed, in the state sector anyway. So they either have to be entered for GCSE English or English Language and English Literature.

The school are actually breaking the exam board's guidelines. CA should not be drafted but written under controlled conditions. They should never be taken home. This is the major reason for the change from coursework. Whilst some schools practise the essay the question for the actual CA has to be different. No draft is permitted to be taken in just clean copies of the texts and an A4 note sheet. I moderate for AQA and the rules are clear.

Most schools are careful about internal moderation so youy son's essay will almost certainly have been checked by another teacher.

Vivacia Mon 13-May-13 13:29:20

The reason the teacher's explanation about marking controlled assessments was incomprehensible and full of intricacies is because marking controlled assessments is complicated and full of intricacies. I think at this level of detail you need to trust the expertise of the professionals who can comprehend it or consider home schooling or a change of school.

HisMum4now Tue 14-May-13 09:17:11

There is a contradictory range of opinions whether Literature is compulsory or not. What is the final authority on this (i.e. which office) so that I can get an answer independent from the school?

Bering also in mind that curriculum can be modified for pupils with statements, although I don't know how and what the drawbacks are.

educatingarti Tue 14-May-13 10:34:32

OK as I understand it - all students need to either be studying GCSE English (which is one GCSE that has literature and language components) or 2 GCSE's English Literature and English Language. If I were you I'd check with his school that the Literature and Language elements stand separately ( eg if he fails the Literature assessments/exams but passes the Language elements he can still get a GCSE in English Language).

If this is the case, your best bet may be for the school to give an acknowledgement that he doesn't need to concentrate on the literature elements or do the literature coursework but just on the Language elements ( with possibly some private/tutor-tutor led study instead of attending all the English lessons - as discussed previously). If he has to be entered for the literature elements, then he could just not do the coursework/ turn up for the exam and would obviously get 0 marks but would get his marks and (hopefully) pass the GCSE Language.

HisMum4now Tue 14-May-13 10:48:08

Is it the department of education, the exam board or anything else that is the final authority whether English language mark will stand alone if DS scores 0 marks in Literature or doesn't do the controlled assessment?

I know the school will push us to try harder the literature and shout at us for not trying hard enough...

educatingarti Tue 14-May-13 10:55:00

It will be in the Exam board regulations

HisMum4now Tue 14-May-13 11:30:25

Thank you flowers

educatingarti Tue 14-May-13 12:12:35

You need to really explain the impact that trying to do the literature is having on your DS and the impact it is having on his other subjects. Maybe make a list so that you are clear about all the things beforehand?

YoniWidge Tue 14-May-13 20:06:47

The teacher will have marked the ca according to the mark scheme, not by comparing his work to that of other pupils. Its actually pretty offensive to suggest otherwise. Do you generally think badly of this teacher?

If he's got a lower mark than expected it is probably because he's written a narrative response (retelling story) rather than an analytical one. This tends to be the difference between D grade responses and better ones.

Have you areanged a meeting witg the school? Without knowing which exam board he's doing and which assessments he's already taken it's hard to offer advice.

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