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Bad GCSE timetable clash, any examination officers/people who know what they're talking about around?

(19 Posts)
LadyPenelopeCreightonWard Mon 31-Mar-14 21:25:48

My DB is sitting his GCSEs this year, and I've just had phone conversation with DM about his exams etc. She was telling me about his timetable and there's one day that nobody is happy with. I thought I'd post here and see if you had any advice.

My DB's school sits mainly IGCSEs, and have ended up with maths (2 hrs), spanish reading (1hr45) and English (2 hrs) on the same day. The school have said they'll run the day like this:
9.10-11.10 Maths
11.10-11.30 Supervised break
11.30-1.15 Spanish
1.15-1.30 Lunch
1.30-3.30 English

That's a total of 6hr5 (I know that supervised breaks are included in the counts, 5hr45 without), but as far as I was aware, GCSE pupils don't have to do over 5hr30 in one day. And anybody who had extra time is going to have an even longer day.

Also, with time to collect papers, those breaks are going to be shorter than that.

Is the way the school's doing it the only sensible way to run it? There are ~180 entered for English and maths and ~90 for the Spanish.

Looking at the JCQ guidelines it seems they might be able to do overnight quarantine instead? I know when I went to university I had longer examination sessions, but these are 15/16 year olds and those are big exams to have all on one day.

TeenAndTween Mon 31-Mar-14 21:29:36

No knowledge, but those breaks don't look long enough to me!

tiggytape Mon 31-Mar-14 22:23:28

It only affects the people doing Spanish because only they will be going over 5.5 hours in that day and they are the only ones doing more than 2 exams on one day.

For them, overnight supervision is an option but they can choose to do all 3 papers if they wish. The ones who delay the third exam must do it the following morning even if it is a Saturday. It would require all students taking Spanish to have someone who could supervise them (including on the journey to and from school) to ensure they had no contact at all about any of the exams and the school would need to be 100% certain that would be followed.

tiggytape Mon 31-Mar-14 22:24:37

(the Maths and English people have no choice and have to do both on the same day).

TalkinPeace Mon 31-Mar-14 22:44:58

DD has three exams on one day - there are going to be three of them embargoed - I'm sure they will cope
I do not plan to kick up a stink about it because it will just be stress

she has 5 1/4 hours of exams alone that day

Everhopeful Mon 31-Mar-14 22:49:10

I know I'm old - I did o levels - but I'm sure we would simply have made it a longer day and made the breaks sensible. I agree that 15 mins is too short, doesn't allow for collecting papers or extra time people and will jeopardise performance on the later papers. If the overnight option can be got, I'd go for that if they insist on such short breaks. Some schools near me would start 0845 and finish about 1630 to allow better time (yes, I know the kids will be tired, though I also know DD would just be waking up properly after the first one, so that's the one where she'd probably not do so well! They won't all struggle.) which I think would make a difference to more of the kids really.

TalkinPeace Mon 31-Mar-14 23:02:58

I've not seen how DDs school will cope but I assume they will extend the day - they do for lots of other things after all

and its a Friday so rollover to Saturday is not really on

when I did my O levels there were people "embargoed" - much easier before the days of mobile phones and personal computers of course

tiggytape Mon 31-Mar-14 23:12:16

The candidiates taking Spanish would have the right to ask to be embargoed but they would then have to take the exam on Saturday morning - there's no flexibility on that
So I agree a longer day would be much better all round. Proper breaks between exams and a much later finishing time rather than dragging it on over a supervised journey home Friday night, a supervised journey back to school on Saturday morning and then an exam at the end of a long week.

Somebody was embargoed when I did my A Levels. They had to stay overnight at a teacher's house (I cannot imagine that happens now). They were doing a very odd combination of subjects but otherwise it was common to have 6 hours of exams in one day but not 3 subjects in one day necessarily.

LadyPenelopeCreightonWard Mon 31-Mar-14 23:27:09

Thank you. I can see that the overnight quarantining could be awkward, but don't think the way they've arranged it at the moment is really going to get the best out of the pupils. I think I'd struggle, swapping between three very different subjects with such short breaks.

So, as long as the students doing Spanish are kept separate from the rest of the cohort, they could start their exams at slightly different times?

Nocomet Mon 31-Mar-14 23:28:54

15 minutes for lunch isn't long enough, surely the invigilator can just stay until 4pm.

I haven't braved the school computer system to print out DD1's time table yet, but she gets 25% extra time which has made some CA take out lunch time already.

LadyPenelopeCreightonWard Tue 01-Apr-14 03:43:14

Oh, sorry, at my DBs school this isn't a Friday, so presumably wouldn't be quite as difficult if they did go down that route.

I think a lot of parents with DC doing all three are unhappy (I presumed it was obvious, but realised I never actually said my DB is taking all three!), especially as the school seem to have presented it as "it's not a nice timetable, but this is how we're going to have to run it".

So it might be worth them writing in and pushing for a more spread out day for the ones doing all three? Like at TalkinPeace's school there are a lot of after school clubs/practices/rehearsals so there are late buses that run at 5/6 o'clock, or I imagine some parents might choose to pick up with it being GCSE time.

Want2bSupermum Tue 01-Apr-14 04:01:14

I remember my GCSE and A'Levels afternon exams started at 2.30pm if there was a concern about the schedule. I had extra time for my exams and for my A'Levels I had 3 hour 45min starting at 9am so the afternoon was moved so I could take a rest before the afternoon exam. I was so tired after the first exam and had a cat nap over lunch.

Rachie1986 Tue 01-Apr-14 04:57:42

It would be near impossible to keep that many pupils "quarantined"'overnight, hence why that isn't really an option.. Plus it's only ever used as a last resort and the 3 exams can be put on the same day..

With regards to why they've not spaced them out more, I don't know. Might be worth a call to the school to ask?

RiversideMum Tue 01-Apr-14 07:08:08

A girl in DDs year had an overnight quarantine during GCSEs. That was only 2 years ago.

NoIamAngelaHernandez Tue 01-Apr-14 07:11:09

We're having a longer day on the iGCSE clash day, finishing at 4.30pm so that the students can have a proper break between exams. Lunch break will be quarantined because they will be starting late.

20 mins is not long enough for lunch break. Speak to the school quickly.

yourlittlesecret Tue 01-Apr-14 09:25:59

Oh I wouldn't kick up a fuss about this, they'll cope.

I have a DS doing GCSEs this year and he's got 3 exams on more than one day (the first day is one of the worst). He's regularly at school until 5pm for revision sessions so I don't see the need to finish at 3.30.

sashh Tue 01-Apr-14 09:29:58

I don't think it is too bad. Not ideal but not too bad.

I think ending the day at 3.30pm is a good idea, there is nothing worse than being half way through an exam and suddenly the place is noisy, kids in corridors, cars beeping outside etc etc.

SonorousBip Tue 01-Apr-14 09:37:17

As an aside, re tiggy tape: "Somebody was embargoed when I did my A Levels. They had to stay overnight at a teacher's house (I cannot imagine that happens now)." This happened at my school and one of the days - can't remember if it was the day before or the morning after -was their 18th birthday shock shock.

It was a long time ago and I can't remember what happened - I'm pretty sure everyone just pretended it wasn't her birthday and she put it back a few days to the weekend.

crazymum53 Tue 01-Apr-14 13:57:42

Hi there, I work as an exam invigilator and have been involved in mock GCSE exams where some students take 3 exams in one day so that exams can be fitted into one day.
How the school organises the timetable would be:
morning exam 1 start time 9.00 - 11.00
break 11.00 - 11.15
morning exam 2 11.15 - 13.00
Lunch 13.00 - 13.30
Afternoon Exam 13.30 - 15.30

Alternatively the school could start the afternoon exam at 1.45pm.

It only takes 2 or 3 mins to collect papers at the end of the exam, but does take longer to put papers out to prepare for the next exams and so a 15 min lunch break would not be enough imo, unless the school used different invigilators in the afternoon!
A 15 min morning break does work and is the same as most schools have mid-morning on teaching days.
HTH

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