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More than two thirds of specifications for teaching from September still not approved

(20 Posts)
noblegiraffe Tue 02-Feb-16 23:57:32

Ofqual has still not accredited more than two thirds of the courses which teachers will start teaching in September.

What a bloody farce. This was all so that Gove could rush his changes through before the general election. Now teachers are paying the price for his utter idiocy and students in current Y9 will be less well prepared than they should be for their exams. How's that for raising standards?

TheSecondOfHerName Wed 03-Feb-16 08:11:47

It's quite worrying for those of us with children in Year 9.

DS2 had to choose his GCSE options a year ago and supposedly started his GCSE courses last September.

Because the specifications aren't confirmed, the school hasn't been able to decide which exam board to use for most of his subjects. So he had to choose his options without knowing the content of the courses he was choosing.

Howaboutthisone Wed 03-Feb-16 08:26:01

We have a timetable that rolls forward in June so are quite anxious that we still don't have a finalised new spec. Surely it should be accredited a year in advance of teaching to give the pupils the best chances of doing well.

Lemonsole Wed 03-Feb-16 12:40:27

Same situation for many of the new A levels, which are switching from a modular to a linear model.
Even if this third resubmission to Ofqual proves to be the last, we will not have time to prepare properly.

Tumfy Wed 03-Feb-16 14:40:46

Newby question but why does ratification by ofqual matter? Obviously I understand the issue over not knowing the syllabus at this stage, but why does ratification matter?
I've been told (but not sure if it was the case initially, & has since been ratified) that IGCSE Sciences were not ratified, yet a family member at an RG university, who is closely involved in undergraduate entry in Chemistry, tells me that A*s are what he's looking for - he's not bothered whether gcse or igcse.
Sorry if it's a really basic question.

Tumfy Wed 03-Feb-16 14:42:29

Returning to the main topic , I'm in complete agreement over the stupidity of the current situation and the unfairness of it all. I have a y9 too.

TeaT1me Wed 03-Feb-16 14:42:48

It means the exam spec hasn't been decided on - so they may be teaching topics that aren't on the spec and will have less time to teach those on the spec! Imagine preparing for an exam and a year in them changing all the content.

AChickenCalledKorma Wed 03-Feb-16 22:26:39

It's beyond ridiculous. DD1 is choosing options now. She is very academic and also wants to include one out of art, music and drama for "fun" (I know none of those are easy options, buy that's how she sees it).

She could really do with more information about how the performance elements of music and drama are going to be assessed. This will help her chose, but I just don't know if the information is available yet. And she's already started on other courses where the teachers appear to be pressing on and hoping for no nasty surprises. It's a ridiculous situation when all they needed to do was give them another year to get things sorted.

ChippyMinton Wed 03-Feb-16 22:32:34

Another first timer Y9 parent checking in. We haven't even had any options info yet. The DC have has had some, and parents info evening is coming up, but thus is very worrying. Feels like they will be guinea pigs. At least all the cohort are in the same situation.

balletgirlmum Fri 05-Feb-16 18:12:28

It's ridiculous & im really angry about it.

There are certain subjects dd is considering such as drama where she really needs the info especially relating to the performance/portfolio elements.

And they have spent the last 3 years preparing for a curriculum that no longer exists.

littledrummergirl Fri 05-Feb-16 20:38:24

Ds2 made his choices last year. On a plus note (clutching at straws) the dc are all in the same boat, boundaries may have to be adjusted to compensate.

AChickenCalledKorma Sat 06-Feb-16 10:17:27

We had options evening earlier this week. I spoke to several teachers about the issue. Mostly, they seemed reasonably confident that the actual content will be as per the draft specifications, but there might be changes in the weight to be attached to each element of assessment. I do at least now know which exam board they use for each course so I can go and have a look to see what's still up in the air.

The main frustration I heard was that the grade boundary required for a "good pass" still seems unclear.

Overall, I felt reasonably reassured - but perhaps our teachers are just good actors!

TheFallenMadonna Sat 06-Feb-16 10:20:13

This is standard though, surely? The last major revisions to Science GCSEs (2010) weren't approved until Easter. It's rubbish, but sadly par for the course.

TheFallenMadonna Sat 06-Feb-16 10:21:37

Schools won't offer IGCSEs if they are not accredited, as they won't count in league tables. For the students they will of course count.

TheFallenMadonna Sat 06-Feb-16 10:22:09

Meant to say performance measures, not league tables! Them too though, of course...

TheSecondOfHerName Sat 06-Feb-16 10:49:01

In our area, many schools (including the ones my children attend) are choosing what they feel is the best course, regardless of whether it's included in league tables.

My DD's school gets very good results (approx 90% of children get at least five A* to C grades at GCSE). In the league tables for the 2015 GCSEs, it says that 0% of pupils got the eBacc, because they do Edexcel iGCSE for MFL. The school put a little note on their website to explain this.

elliepac Sat 06-Feb-16 11:00:04

Speaking here as a Head of Department and a parent who is equally frustrated by the whole exam specification approval business. However, to offer some reassurance...most specs are likely to be finalised re content. At this point ofqual are fine tuning mark schemes and assessment objectives and minutiae. In my subject (history) the last spec has just been approved. However the changes between these and the draft specifications are wordings and tiny factors not the whole thing. Teachers by now should be able to have a pretty clear idea of what they are teaching and what the exam boards are looking for. So do not worry about it too much, it is semantics at this point. The biggest remaining issue are a lack of resources and textbooks being available but that is a whole different rantgrin.

AChickenCalledKorma Sat 06-Feb-16 11:33:38

Thanks ellipac - that reinforces what staff were telling me at options evening but it's reassuring to hear it from someone in the know who doesn't have a vested interest in keeping me calm grin

noblegiraffe Sat 06-Feb-16 11:56:18

The maths specifications were approved by this point in the schedule for first teaching last September, but the exam boards then had a fight over sample assessment materials, claiming that AQA's where too easy and they were stealing all the schools. Ofqual intervened and conducted an investigation. By Easter it was declared that the sample assessment materials were too hard and it was back to the drawing board. The new sample assessment materials weren't approved till July for first teaching in September. Ofqual said 'oh it's ok, teachers have the spec so know what they should be teaching'. Except the textbooks were based on the scrapped, too hard sample assessment materials and are now worthless pulp. We are now halfway through Y10 and don't have any textbooks. We have a few more specimen papers to give an idea of how some topics might be assessed but everything's still not clear and we're very reliant on teachers churning out resources on the Internet.

So even though we had the spec, not knowing how it is going to be assessed and lack of textbooks and resources is a huge issue.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sat 06-Feb-16 12:23:11

I completely agree, noble. As a science teacher, I have been teaching from a draft syllabus for year 9 this year, that has not been approved (because we run a three year KS4). We are taking a punt that the syllabus will be eventually approved largely as it is. But the lack of any sample questions make it hard to know exactly how it will be assessed.

At least in science, we do have the extra year but the whole thing has been appallingly handled and I feel so sorry for year 10 and year 9 students

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