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GCSE's for 2018

(21 Posts)
BlueBelle123 Tue 27-Oct-15 21:45:57

So I have heard plenty about how difficult the new GCSE's in Maths and English will be but what about the humanities and MFL - DS is in year 9 and he will shortly be choosing his options, so any thoughts on the changes pros and cons for the pupils would be most welcome from all you lovely teachers. Just trying to gather as much info as possible to help in DS's option choices!

TheSecondOfHerName Tue 27-Oct-15 21:50:34

A lot of the specifications haven't been approved yet, so it's all a bit up in the air.

DS2 had to choose his options six months ago (they do a three year GCSE course at his school so were supposed to start at the beginning of Y9). He just chose subjects that he enjoys most and is good at.

Until the courses are finalised, they are studying general topics which should hopefully be a good basis for GCSE study.

clary Tue 27-Oct-15 22:06:24

MFL is changing massively and will be much better.

Instead of controlled assessments (currently 60% of the total mark) which are open to abuse and basically discredited, students will have to translate from English to the MFL and the other way round (at foundation level this will start with a list of words eg name 10 fruits in French).

Their speaking tests will be a lot more like what I did at O level 1,000 years ago. Instead of learning a drafted passage by rote they will be tested on what they actually know and can say in the language.

Because there are no CAs, which frankly use up lesson after lesson, there will be a lot more lesson time to practise spontaneous speaking and translation. A good school will be focusing on these skills in KS3 now smile

I guess if you are very good at learning screeds of text by rote the CA favoured you, but honestly this will show students' skills much better. It is all down to the final exams tho - but then AFAIK most subjects will be.

BlueBelle123 Tue 27-Oct-15 22:06:59

Thanks Second - it would be nice to know if any subjects will still have course work or is it all on the final exam!

I keep telling myself its the same for all of them but I can't help but feel anxious at such a huge change in the system!

BlueBelle123 Tue 27-Oct-15 22:14:37

Thanks Clary that's really useful - DS is considering a MFL but is worried that it might be too difficult to do well in, he's not a natural linguist!

clary Tue 27-Oct-15 23:01:25

Well of course I would say he should study MFL but please do ask his teachers. If they are worth their salt they will give an honest answer - I always do.

Some students will really struggle and I have told them so - but that is usually those who have done little or no work in year 8-9 rather than those who aren't as talented. If a student is keen and will work then we can get somewhere smile

Needanadulttotalkto Wed 28-Oct-15 04:18:19

AFAIK from reading the official guidance, no subjects will have coursework, although the sciences will have something in the order of 8 observed practicals.

BlueBelle123 Wed 28-Oct-15 08:55:06

Clary how difficult do you think it will be to access the 7-9 grades. DS is top set languages at a comp and I know teachers will want him to continue. The dilemma he has is whether to do 2 humanities or 1 and a MFL. Looking further ahead he will almost certainly study maths and the sciences. He seems to think that Universities like a MFL, have no idea where he got this from <confused>

clary Wed 28-Oct-15 13:04:47

There is a notion about that Unis esp RG unis want MFL at GCSE, but in fact I think only UCL are actually demanding it.

MFL is a great idea to take tho, really, shows employers/colleges that you have a range of skills, willing to take on a challenge and also helps the student in their English learning.

DS1 did Spanish - he is not academic at all and it was his worst grade, but I am still glad that he took it. So is he. He's learned a new language and it's something a bit different among those on his college course.

WRT grades 7-9, some students will achieve these. It's hard to say if any specific student will achieve them, but you would have to think that a similar percentage to those currently gaining high B-A*? A* = 8-9; A = 7-8; B = 6-7 as far as we can tell. Is he an A* student in MFL? Hopefully at the end of the new course, he will come out able to speak/write something in the MFL confidently.

littledrummergirl Wed 28-Oct-15 13:13:47

Ds2 sits his GCSEs then as well. He is already working on his choices.
My understanding is that while most subjects will be exam based using 1-9, a few will still use a*-g and may have coursework.
When I asked about ums points the teachers were unable to give any info. They are working blind.

My plan is to ensure that ds2 has a full understanding of the curriculum in the core subjects and hope this gets him at least a 5.
Beyond that I have no plans atm other than keep checking for more info.

BlueBelle123 Wed 28-Oct-15 15:58:36

DD did her GCSE's in the summer and scrapped a C in French, she regrets taking it as felt if she had done another humanity she would of got a better grade - I personally think thats debatable.

DS's grade for MFL is a level 6 for end of this year that was set when he first joined the school, they don't give out GCSE's predictions until they start on the course, so not sure what he would be expected to get, but he is driven and is prepared to work at something to improve - I personally think its very useful to know a language but I'm trying to give DS unbiased info for him to make an informed choice!!

clary Wed 28-Oct-15 16:18:03

If his target for the end of year 9 is a 6 that is OK; is he on target to get it? My most able year 9 students (set 2 not 1) are working at about a level 5/6 (depending how many tenses they remember) but I would expect some of them to achieve a L7 by the end of this year.

The best thing is to ask DS's teachers what they think he could achieve - they will have a good idea even tho it is the first year of teaching thee exams.

Anotherusername1 Wed 28-Oct-15 16:40:50

I would always recommend an MFL because it is embarrassing how bad people in the UK are at languages but more particularly the GCSE is just a gateway to A level which is much better and you actually learn something! By the Easter of my lower sixth year I could understand German TV, it was amazing. But if you've not done GCSE or equivalent, you can't generally do A level (although some colleges will teach Spanish from scratch for example). If you don't want to do an A level language, the GCSE might still give you a grounding for a uni course (lots of unis offer extra-curricular language courses these days) or a course in the country in which the language is spoken.

I find the translating into the target language a bit weird. You never do that in the workplace, you translate from the target language into your native language. But then, since when has school resembled the workplace?

But the best advice for GCSE options is do the subjects you like and are best at.

BlueBelle123 Wed 28-Oct-15 16:48:37

Parent's evening is the week before options evening, so I shall speak to his teacher- he is on target, but not really sure how he is doing according to him fine! What makes the decision tricky is last year in humanities for some assessments he was hitting level 8. I think I shall have to try and find out how humanities is changing as well.

clary Thu 29-Oct-15 10:17:08

Remember that he has only studied MFL for two years so beware of comparisons. I have never seen L8 at end of year 8 in MFL. L6/7 target for year 9 is good.

Draylon Sun 01-Nov-15 15:57:23

See, I 'get' entirely why someone like clary states that the new GCSEs will be 'much better'.

Yes, they will be considerably harder; yes, an A* (Grade 9) will be awarded to far fewer DC; yes it will be easier for academic 6th forms and RG unis to pick 'the best'.

But they spell disaster for DC like DS2, currently Y10. I posted an OP about my shock upon seeing the English Lit GCSE syllabus and got shouted down by people who saw the new system as being a change for their DCs to really show off what they're made of, academically. But to me, the notable thing was how many said 'Yes, maybe your DS will have to work harder and be more committed etc to 'pass'' but that was all well and good, apparently. He has to be better than a DC of his equivalent intellect who got to sit his GCSE in 2014 to get the same grade; particularly if he were 'A' in 2015- could easily be a grade 7 in the new reckoning.

However, we don't live in a society, nor do we have most employers that gives a toss whether your 2009 GCSE was won on 15 retakes of CAs or was a 2017 one-shot-only GCSE. They see a grade. A grade that really matters as to whether a DC can even go to that sixth form, take that course, get on that apprenticeship. In 2009 yes, 2018- maybe not.

I can completely see why there has been a clamour to toughen up 'the top end', but a DC like my DS2's chances of passing would've been predicated on, for instance, 'speaking' in English (gone), knowing the context of English passages (rather than learning 15 poems, comparing 2 unseen poems and a forensic knowledge of a Shakespeare play in one exam; new GCSEs here, now!) and rote learned passages in MFL (going). My DS2 would really have benefited from the content of a CSE in certain subjects (and how I got howled down for 'selling him short' grin by even suggesting he wasn't up to a reasonable pass in the new GCSEs! Bad mummy! All deserve a chance, even though it means they walk away with, effectively, a failed 'O' level but with no fall-back passed CSE... but, another thread).

Draylon Sun 01-Nov-15 16:02:28

As an aside, I sense some hypocrisy in MFL- all those braying, bluff blokes in red slacks in ski-resort restaurants completely massacring French as they loudly attempt to order, but hey they got a bloody good pass in French 'O' level, eh, what?

But as shrill Telegraph readers, they are completely convinced it's all gone to the dogs, that modern DC should be drilled as hard as they were in French verbs (yet can't bloody use them any better than a DC who'd rote learned passages in CAs to get their GCSE pass can!)

And, whilst I'm on my soap-box, all those 'employer groups' lamenting the slide in standards whose spokesmen can barely communicate in written English.

Ricardian Sun 01-Nov-15 18:43:47

And, whilst I'm on my soap-box, all those 'employer groups' lamenting the slide in standards whose spokesmen can barely communicate in written English.

Quite. And claiming that standards of mathematics are in decline while making ludicrous assertions about statistics is hardly unknown, either.

GinandJag Sun 01-Nov-15 19:08:42

How easy is it to access the 7-9 grades?

In the first year, grades will be awarded statistically, with the same proportions achieving each grade as previous years. The guarantee is that anyone achieving a C in the old system would get a 4 in the new system, and an A in the old system would be a 7 in the new system.

With my parent hat on (DD in Y9), I can't get worried about these changes. They are going to happen. I can't see how they will affect option choices. What was coursework/CA in the old system is now rolled into final exams in the new system. There isn't any choice to fret about.

As for MFL, I am pleased that they are doing away with the memorised CA tasks. I don't see that these contributed to any kind of fluency or adaptability in practical situations. My DD got an A* in French and Spanish at GCSE and is now doing AS Spanish and GCSE Italian, and she says she can't remember a word of French (5 months after her GCSE). This disappoints me, so I hope the new system will enable students to retain and apply what they have learnt.

As a teacher, I can't get too excited about the changes either. I want my students to do their best, regardless of the grading system. I will miss the CA as that was an area I could control and really encourage the weakest students to do well, but I will not lose any sleep over it.

ravenAK Sun 01-Nov-15 19:19:55

My concern would be not so much the final shape it takes (final until the next Ed Sec needs something on their CV, anyway) - although I don't like that either as untiered can't work well for skills based subjects like English & maths - but the appalling bugger's muddle it's liable to be for the next couple of years.

I've bailed out to teach a nice, sensible IGCSE course abroad for a few years. As things stand, I can't get enthusiastic about a return before my 3 dc are all safely past KS4, to be brutally honest.

Sorry OP - I know that isn't tremendously positive or even helpful...

Draylon Mon 02-Nov-15 08:25:02

gin - tbh, the only way anyone will 'retain and apply what they have learnt' of a MFL is if they have to use it daily; or at least encounter it more or less daily, like many European people do, of English.

I got a French O level, but I could no more fluently ask for a train ticket now as fly to the moon. However, I could converse with someone at a 'supermarket level' in German right now, despite never having formally studied it but having lived in Bavaria for 7 months, aged 17.

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