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Maths teacher says the new maths gcse is "loads harder"

(35 Posts)
WhoTheFuckIsSimon Sat 07-Nov-15 13:53:13

I kind of knew it would be but wasn't thinking about it till he said this. Dd is in year 10. So yep, great, guinea pigs.

Some of the other m&ms I know are really quite worried. One parent was told by a different maths teacher that they haven't seen papers, etc yet so they're unsure what they need to teach! Which sounds crazy.

School have upped maths lessons from 3 a week to 5 a week as the school seem to be panicking. So I'm reassured that even if the exam is harder they're getting more teaching.

Are any of the Letts type revision guides worth getting? Or are they all useless because I presume Letts don't know what the new exams will cover if the teachers don't yet?

noblegiraffe Sat 07-Nov-15 15:21:02

Sample assessment materials (exam papers) were finally approved by Ofqual in July (after investigating then binning the previous ones for being too difficult. So there are some papers out there, and teachers should have some idea what they will look like. Yes, they are much harder. The new foundation papers are more like the old intermediate papers, containing new topics like trigonometry that were previously B grade. The new higher papers are also more difficult, one SAM I saw had an algebra question on it that was harder than anything I'd seen on the Further Maths GCSE. The style of questions is different, so teachers who are used to teaching familiar topics in familiar ways are going to have to revisit expectations and change the emphasis of their lessons (the danger is they'll see 'ratio' on the syllabus and wheel out their old ratio resources which are now inadequate). There is a bigger emphasis on criticising, justifying and explaining. E.g old GCSE would say 'give an estimate to this calculation', new GCSE would follow up with 'explain whether your answer is an over or under estimate'. There's also next to no useful stuff on the formula sheet any more so they will need to memorise the quadratic formula/area of a trapezium etc.

Textbooks were rushed out and written before the old SAMs were binned so were geared towards that level of difficulty. They are bloody awful and in some cases pitched way too hard. I'd avoid them. I've no idea if the revision guides are suffering from similar problems, but I'd advise holding off on buying anything for a while, maybe even till Y11 as more stuff is being released all the time.

Mymaths has been updated with lessons etc on the new content. Teachers are starting to post resources for the new content too, but I wouldn't use those at home as schools will probably be using them as there's so little out there.

The majority of the old content is still being tested (minor things like trial and improvement and isometric drawing have been dropped), so old resources are still useful. Your DC will still need to know how to solve equations, draw graphs, do calculations (I don't know what grade they are aiming for), so making sure they've got a solid grounding in the basics of algebra, know all their angle rules, area formulae, can process and represent data and so on will be a good start, before worrying about Venn diagrams and pre-calculus.

WhoTheFuckIsSimon Sat 07-Nov-15 16:25:46

Thank you, that's very helpful.

Dd was previously told she was borderline C/B. I think as long as she passes I'll be happy. She's not planning on keeping maths up but obviously it's important she passes.

popuptent Sat 07-Nov-15 16:39:34

I also think the English is going to be much harder.

WhoTheFuckIsSimon Sat 07-Nov-15 16:45:30

It's not good, I really wish dd was six months older.

noblegiraffe Sat 07-Nov-15 17:05:27

Borderline C/B is going to be interesting, as they'll need to decide whether to enter her for foundation or higher which are very different prospects.

If she is C/B when she is in with a shot at a 5, which she should go all-out for. A 4 will be considered a pass and she won't be required to resit in sixth form, but a 5 will be the pass (and resit requirement) in a few years time. She will be competing for jobs against these later cohorts in years to come so a 5 is worth fighting for.

WhoTheFuckIsSimon Sat 07-Nov-15 17:10:24

Gosh I didn't know that. So she really does need a 5 doesn't she or down the line employers may think she's failed it. Bloody hell, this is complicated!

Unescorted Sat 07-Nov-15 17:17:19

Nobel thanks for your very useful post. There seem to be so many changes being rushed through I cant keep up.

AuntieStella Sat 07-Nov-15 17:20:18

Question: how does the new spec compare with the old O level?

Or the IGCSE (which I thought was closer to O level than GCSE)?

I'm wondering out of interest, but also because that might mean resources used by IGCSE schools could be used. Or old O level text books rapidly reprinted.

I did O level. No calculators, no formula sheets, and a syllabus that included calculus (optional, but we did it as the teacher thought that the calculus questions were usually straightforward).

Hassled Sat 07-Nov-15 17:22:40

DS3 is Year 9 and his school have actually reduced the number of GCSEs they can take to try to accommodate the additional teaching time they think they'll need for the new English and Maths curriculum - the message was that they are way more content-heavy, way harder.

smellylittleorange Sat 07-Nov-15 19:41:34

Although Dd is only in year 7 I was talking to her teacher about this the other day as I had no idea whether GCSEs were still tiered(which was relevant to the conversation we were having) she seemed to imply that more students would only do the lower tier as the maximum grade for this would be the equivalent of a B (grade 5) and only the top of the top sets would do the higher tier as would be vastly more difficult to achieve a good grade in iyswim.

WhoTheFuckIsSimon Sat 07-Nov-15 20:05:02

Dd is in the top set for maths, probably only because she goes to a school where last year only 37% of kids passed their maths gcse. So I don't think for her being in the top group will be a good indicator of which paper she ought to sit.

Can she get a level 5 in the foundation paper?

smellylittleorange Sat 07-Nov-15 23:47:30

That is what the teacher said to me whothe .

noblegiraffe Sun 08-Nov-15 10:03:50

Auntie O-level is very different to the current GCSE in things like the sort of language used, lack of calculator etc (new GCSE has 3 papers, 2 of which will be calc). IGCSE does have some of the new topics, but not all, and the new GCSE doesn't have calculus so it would be very confusing with an IGCSE book to try to figure out what was in and out. Incidentally, IGCSE maths won't count in the league tables for current Y10, they have to take the new GCSE. The IGCSE isn't considered 'rigorous enough' in comparison.

noblegiraffe Sun 08-Nov-15 10:19:19

Simon, yes the foundation paper goes up to a 5.

I'd be a bit worried by the 37% pass rate thing. If a school can't get students through the current GCSE then the new one will be a struggle. It does depend on whether the school is dominated by low attainers or whether the maths department is crap though. It's a good sign that they are putting on extra maths lessons as at least they are thinking ahead beyond current Y11. I think results for Y10 will depend quite a lot on how on-the-ball with the new stuff the maths department are.

What is going to be a major problem for Y10 is predicting grades. The grade boundary for a 4 (the current pass grade) is going to be set to be the same as the proportion of students who currently get a C or above. They are saying that they don't want to disadvantage the first cohort, so if they would have got a C, they should get a 4. But this means that we have no idea at all where the grade boundaries will be, because they won't be decided until after the exam has been sat. We could set an old GCSE paper and see what they get, but Cs and Bs won't necessarily be 4s and 5s on the new paper, because it depends on how well the rest of the country has prepared for the stuff that's different. It's all going to be licking a finger and sticking it in the air stuff.

orangepudding Sun 08-Nov-15 10:35:10

I don't understand the new grades. My year 10 dd has been predicted an A in old grades or 6 in new in both English and maths. 6 sounds quite low as it goes up to 9.

noblegiraffe Sun 08-Nov-15 10:40:11

If she would have got an A on the old system, then she should be predicted a 7 in the new one. The same proportion of students who currently get an A or higher will get a 7 or higher.

WhoTheFuckIsSimon Sun 08-Nov-15 10:57:30

It's unbelievable that they won't set the grade boundaries until after the exam. I just keep telling myself at least they're all in it together. Dd won't be any more disadvantaged than the rest of her cohort.

AuntieStella Sun 08-Nov-15 11:08:33

Thanks, noblegiraffe! All as clear as mud. And as you didn't mention comparison between new spec and O level, does that mean still unknown except for the calculator permission?

"It's unbelievable that they won't set the grade boundaries until after the exam."

That's like O levels. Grades were by bell curve - so top X% got a 1 (or an A depending on when you did them) and so on. It's unfamiliar, because it's been a while since used. But not unprecedented. Doesn't it mean you have to teach/inspire/encourage pupils to do the very best they can, not aim for specific marks?

noblegiraffe Sun 08-Nov-15 11:08:59

Grade boundaries are never set until after the exam, but with the current GCSE we have at least some idea where they will be because we can look at the grade boundaries for previous years, and we can use those papers with our students to get an idea of how they are performing.

Because, thanks to Gove, these new qualifications haven't been piloted, we haven't got anything to go on.

And given the higher demand of the new qualifications, we could well be in the same situation as Scotland were this year, with a ridiculously low pass mark.

WhoTheFuckIsSimon Sun 08-Nov-15 11:13:58

Ah, got you.

I was worried for the opposite. That the pass mark might be higher than the old papers because the govt want to demonstrate that these new exams are more rigorous which is what they said was needed.

noblegiraffe Sun 08-Nov-15 11:15:03

I don't know the old O-level spec so I can't really compare, but the styles are very different. I don't think O-level had much in the way of statistics. Due to printing issues, there were also far fewer diagrams.

Language is quite a big thing in current GCSEs. AQA have been touting their version of the new maths GCSE as being the one using the fewest words. For students with literacy issues such as dyslexia or EAL, this could be important. O-level questions were pretty murky in comparison.

noblegiraffe Sun 08-Nov-15 11:25:58

Simon that's where it gets political. The government has said that 5 will be a good pass for the new GCSE. In a few years time (how many years is currently undetermined), you will need a 5 for the league tables and to not have to resit in sixth form. 5 is really the pass grade.

But because the government knows that these changes have been rushed in and the current cohort will not be well-prepared, they will be accepting a 4 for the league tables and sixth form funding requirements.

So the pass grade really is higher, there's just this pretence that it's not. In a few years time, current Y10 will realise that they've been sold a lemon.

Marmitelover55 Sun 08-Nov-15 14:15:40

Its interesting to read that the new GCSE will be more rigorous than the IGCE. I wonder where that leaves private schools who often seem to do the IGCE, as that is currently seen as more rigorous?

AuntieStella Sun 08-Nov-15 14:58:22

They'll keep using them, I expect.

Not because of perceptions of rigour, (which have varied over time) but because they're not fiddled around with every few years.

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