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GCSE taken in YR10 Maths and Science

(51 Posts)
sugarandsweet Tue 10-Sep-13 13:56:25

So my son who took Maths and science in year 10 got B's and C's when he was predicted A's and B's. I'm told by the science teacher its because the grade bandings have changed this year. She said he was 4 marks off an A but still got a C my first thought it how ridiculously tight that grading is but also why didn't the school make it clearer how the grading could change and affect a grade from a A to a C.

A very upset son going into year 11.

Kez100 Wed 11-Sep-13 12:46:22

I wouldn't be surprised if the ISA borderlines were quite high. My son got a C in ISAs but was told he could be a B (just) depending on borderlines - he got a mid-C which implies perhaps high borderlines on that bit.

I am thinking for my son (interested in Physics but has only done double science) maybe we get him a tutor in the summer after year 11 to work over the extra modules which triple scientists would have done, so he can start on an even playing field (if he gets a good additional science Physics grade)

friday16 Wed 11-Sep-13 14:55:22

The consequence was, that by the end of year 12 she had an A at A2, being one if her strongest subjects. However, when she applied to uni, the top unis (studying law) didn't count any subject any A levels not taken in one sitting towards their entry requirements meaning that she had to get a further AAA at A level (which luckily she did).

This. If you do things in advance and do not get an A*, you missed an opportunity for an A*. If you do things in advance and do get an A*, then there's a risk that it will be discounted. It's a lose-lose game.

secretscwirrels Wed 11-Sep-13 16:08:41

One of my bugbears. Early entry is almost always for the school's benefit and not the child. GCSEs are designed for 16 year olds and most pupils will get a better grade if they wait until Y11.
Re-takes just add to the stress in Y11.
A friend's DD achieved a C in foundation Maths in year 10 and had been promised she could take higher paper in Y11. When she went back to school last week there was no maths on her timetable. The school decided that because she is borderline in English that she has to do extra English and can't do the promised Maths.shock

purpleroses Wed 11-Sep-13 17:24:53

Aren't they legally obliged to teach maths to all children of compulsory school age? They can't just decide to drop it for Year 11s can they?

Kez100 Wed 11-Sep-13 17:47:06

My daughter dropped Maths when she got a C to concentrate on English but it was her choice to do that and it worked - she got 2 x C grades in English and had been expected to get 2 x D . My son has done the complete opposite, has his C, and wants to concentrate on the best Maths result possible - even though he may well miss out on English at C. Being forced by school is terrible.

WorrySighWorrySigh Wed 11-Sep-13 17:47:41

purpleroses - I think they get round this by teaching statistics at least that is what was done for my DD

friday16 Wed 11-Sep-13 18:23:42

I think they get round this by teaching statistics

Seriously? There are schools which put people through Foundation GCSE at the end of Y10, and then teach GCSE Statistics rather than giving them a chance at Higher Tier? That's absolutely shocking. That's precisely the reason why Gove needs to put an end to early entry. The poor kids.

creamteas Wed 11-Sep-13 18:29:42

That's precisely the reason why Gove needs to put an end to early entry

In my DCs school, year 10 entry for Maths is common for top sets. But that gives them the chance to do FSMQ in Year 11 which is a great preparation for A level. Since this was introduced, it has significantly raised AS/A2 maths results (whilst those who can't cope haven't wasted an option).

Early entry can be of benefit, when it is used in the right way.

purpleroses Wed 11-Sep-13 22:36:49

But kez I think the school are still breaking the law by not teaching your DD maths in Y11 even if it was her choice.
Can see that teaching stats might be a get out for them but really seems that it's only in the DC's interest if they're confident of at least an A and they're going to do the advanced maths or AS in Y11

TheFallenMadonna Wed 11-Sep-13 22:44:48

It's standard practiceto enter students for Core Science in year 10 and Additional in year 11. The grade boundaries in all Science GCSEs, but particularly Core Science, were adjusted this year, and the national average percentage of A*-C went down significantly compared with last year. It wasn't a reflection of how hard the papers were (and yes, that does happen every year). The controlled assessments followed just the same format as last year, the demand was the same, and the grade boundaries were raised significantly. Ofqual sent a letter to all schools before the end of the summer term telling them to expect a decrease in grades. There is abolutely no pretence to criterion referenced grading any more. It isn't even norm referenced. It's political will referenced.

schilke Thu 12-Sep-13 08:25:40

That's interesting thefallenmadonna. We were told that it was the norm to do core science at the end of year 10. It's a shame now for ds1 as he has lost a lot of confidence....he didn't have that much to start with!

I just don't understand this messing around with grade boundaries. Why do they move them?!

titchy Thu 12-Sep-13 09:19:14

They move them because some years the exam is easier than in other years and it wouldn't be fair if it was much easier to get a high grade one year compared to the next.

noblegiraffe Thu 12-Sep-13 09:40:00

It is possible and indeed likely that it was harder to get a certain grade this year than previous years as Gove has been banging on at exam boards to make exams harder for some time now. Pass rates have correspondingly fallen (which he warned would happen a couple of years ago).

It's not true that schools just need to get kids a C and can then forget about them. If schools are not pushing bright kids to get top grades then this information will be available to parents in two ways. Firstly the value added score on the league table (1000 means the students did as well in their best 8 subjects as students of the same ability in a similar school). Secondly, the Department of Education has a website for each school (usually accessed by clicking the school name on the league table). This splits students into low, medium and high attainers by KS2 results, then shows what percentage of each of these groups made the expected progress at GCSE and what their average GCSE grade was. High attainers who are not pushed will not make the expected progress in maths or English and this will be obvious.

The Department of Education published a booklet with statistics showing it is damaging to students, including high attainers to push classes through early entry. Unfortunately, with Gove changing exams to linear and making them harder, a lot of schools gambled on pushing their Y10 cohorts through the modular exams early instead, while they were still available.

Kez100 Thu 12-Sep-13 09:50:39

When I asked why Core was being sat in Year 10 and Additional in Year 11, I was told that it meant the exams could be sat:

January 2013 x2
June 2013 x1
June 2014 x3

They felt that the ability to learn and be almost immediately tested on that work, while only revising for a small number of exams at one time, would outweigh the advantage of being older which was the other option which came with a major disadvantage - all 6 exams in one go in June 2014 at the same time as all their other exams. I can see the argument.

These new exams are definitely harder than they were in 2011. I saw so many past papers for my daughter because she asked me to mark them for her. Her brother is much, much better at Science than she is - coming into Primary they were level 4c and level 5b. However, it is looking like their results will be pretty close at CC and BX.

titchy Thu 12-Sep-13 09:59:24

They can't do that now Kez as there are no January exams. But core/additional is structured so that core is a one year course with the exam taken at the end of year 10, and additional also a one year course that builds on the work done in core and is thus taken at the end of year 11.

I think some exam boards do not allow all 6 exams for double science to be taken at the same time, but cold be wrong!

SoupDragon Thu 12-Sep-13 10:03:16

I've never understood why they do this TBH. Surely it puts unnecessary stress on the child and they are likely to get a worse grade than if they sat it at the proper time.

DSs attend an academically selective private school and I am 99% certain they don't do early entry.

noblegiraffe Thu 12-Sep-13 10:11:15

My school got slated by Ofsted a few years ago because we weren't pushing the brightest students, and one of the criticisms was that they were only sitting the same GCSEs as the less academic. It was then changed so that top set maths sat two GCSEs, but to fit this in, one has to be taken early. A school that doesn't put its top set through maths and statistics, or additional maths, or AS level early is not doing its job properly according to the powers that be.

friday16 Thu 12-Sep-13 12:14:00

"I think some exam boards do not allow all 6 exams for double science to be taken at the same time, but could be wrong!"

My younger will be doing all nine shock papers of triple science in one session this coming summer. The school's logic is that revision for C3, P3 and B3 rolls up a lot of the preparation for the preceding papers, so it's less work to do the whole lot at once. As this is the first cohort to do this, we shall see how it works out.

friday16 Thu 12-Sep-13 12:25:23

"DSs attend an academically selective private school and I am 99% certain they don't do early entry."


One of the things I get really exercised about is the constant whining that private school pupils are disproportionately likely to get into selective universities, even if you control for parental income, education and support (anecdotally, this problem is actually worse in RG universities, where it's a dirty secret, as compared to Oxbridge, where it's at least out in the open). The reason is often, so far as I can make out, that private school pupils take the right number of GCSEs and A Levels in the right subjects at the right time, while too many pupils in the state system do too many of the wrong subjects at the wrong time. A privately educated applicant will have a row of eight or ten core academic subjects at A and A*, with the GCSEs taken at the end of Y11 in one block (often linear) and the A2s taken at the end of Y13. No retakes, at least one MFL, everything either on the "generally acceptable" or "facilitating" list, no complex dance of "equivalent qualifications", no confusion between Music (fine) and Music Tech (not so fine), etc, etc.

In the 1970s, I went to a rough-ish comp and then a rough-as-you-like technical college. But my O Levels and A Levels are exactly the same subjects, from the same boards, probably at the same grades, taken at the same time, as had I gone to the most exotic of private schools. Had my parents spent money they didn't have, I'd have had a bit of a polish but, on paper at least, I'd be no different. That's absolutely not true today, and parents with academic children at state schools need to look very carefully at whether the exams their children are taking are actually the right ones.

TallulahMcFey Thu 12-Sep-13 14:29:17

Well said friday16.

purpleroses Thu 12-Sep-13 15:03:59

I wouldn't assume it's only states schools that do early entry - My DSC attend an academically selective private school, and it does put the top maths set in for GCSE a year early, but only if they get an A* in their mocks. Then then do Ad maths in Y11. Does seem a good system for the ones who can get an A* in Y10, but not for those who'd be getting Bs or Cs and might get a higher grade a year later.

TallulahMcFey Thu 12-Sep-13 15:18:04

And even then, I think only for those doing additional maths in year 11 to strengthen their ability for their Maths AS in year 12 (with there being a jump between GCSE and AS. There seems to be no benefit in sitting A2 maths early as far as I can see. My daughter got an A at A2 maths a year early but may have been an A* sat at the right time and the unis don't want them sat early, they want them taken in one sitting. I would imagine most children getting an A* at GCSE will carry on to do the A level and then all the timings are wrong. I will suggest that my next daughter takes nothing early, except science, which is a different system in that the core is year 10 and additional in year 11.

tiredaftertwo Thu 12-Sep-13 15:34:26

Very well said, Friday16.

As far as I can see this is the real scandal and I don't know why more people are not shouting about it. The universities have made it pretty clear what they want - any anyway people with degrees really should be able to work out that selection criteria for academically demanding courses with heavy workloads and lots of exams at the end might include, errr, evidence that student can cope with academically demanding courses etc etc.....I hope the various changes may help reduce the league tables pressure on schools, to the benefit of the children.

I think maths is a slightly different beast for those who can fairly easily get an A* in year 10, but even for maths, early entry should be treated with extreme caution and only done when a viable maths extension option is available for year 11 that is NOT AS maths, IMO. You could do some form of extension and then sit exams for that and GCSE at the end of year 11, but with all-terminal exams, that could be an awful lot of papers.

TheFallenMadonna Thu 12-Sep-13 18:54:48

Triple Science have to take all their exams this summer. No choice with terminal assessment of modules.

Core Science in year 10 is not early entry.

creamteas Thu 12-Sep-13 21:47:54

The reason is often, so far as I can make out, that private school pupils take the right number of GCSEs and A Levels in the right subjects at the right time

This is simply not true some private schools do this, but not all, just like some state schools do, and some do not.

I see hundreds of UCAS forms from a wide variety of schools, and there is huge variability in both the private and state school sectors.

To take it to the extreme, I live near a private school which does not teach biology at either GCSE or A level because it would counteract religious teaching on evolution!

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