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Year 8 taking GCSE Maths and English

(38 Posts)
bigmouthstrikesagain Mon 12-Sep-16 10:31:34

Ds is 12 and in y8. He is in top set English and Maths and they were informed last week that they would be taking GCSE English and Maths at the end of year 8. We have not had any information home yet (if nothing is sent out this week I will chase it up as I want to know the reasoning behind this and which exam in English they will be sitting).

I have found nothing from a brief internet search about how common this is. I am a little concerned as ds is HF ASD (diagnosis this summer) and a highly anxious child. Particularly over school work (and his presentation is awful). I believe he is capable of the work intellectually but as he needed scribe and a separate room to get through SATs I will need reassurance form the school that he will not be too pressured and that the support to sit the exams will be in place, ds will place plenty of of pressure on himself and will want to complete the courses - I am not so sure whether this is good for him but I doubt I would convince him of that so I will be supportive.

I would just like to hear from anyone who has experience of this. Has a ds or dd that has taken early GCSEs. Ds is in a middle school,so during this year we will be applying for Upper School and visiting / preparing for transition to the new school for yrs 9-13. There is enough to deal with this year so I am not sure why there is a need to do GCSEs as well.

Any reassurance or experience? Cheers!

eyebrowsonfleek Mon 12-Sep-16 10:34:52

My children are top set maths at a comp.
They do a GCSE early (year 10) but not in year 8!
They sometimes had GCSE past paper questions as tests in y8 (or old KS3 SATS questions) but are definitely not able to pass GCSE maths at that age.

TheDrsDocMartens Mon 12-Sep-16 10:37:19

Im surprised at this with the changes to exams I thought most schools aren't doing early exams now until they know what's happening.

bigmouthstrikesagain Mon 12-Sep-16 10:52:12

I don't know if it is down to the school system being different in our county - tripartite, with lower, middle then Upper schools. So the middle school is able to opt out of worrying about GCSEs in general as they don't set or administrate them all, but having their able pupils sit early exams is good for their stats? I really don't know? Need some info from the school as ds is notorious for getting the wrong end of the stick, however I know the school has children taking early GCSEs as it was mentioned when we first visited the school back when ds was in yr4.

titchy Mon 12-Sep-16 10:55:49

What a completely and utterly stupid thing to do. Maths and English will be MUCH harder than they have been before as they're the new style exams which have never been taken before. Don't expect decent grades. If a crap grade will destroy his confidence don't let him take the exams.

bigmouthstrikesagain Mon 12-Sep-16 11:17:51

oh dear - you see that is what I was concerned about titchy

I am also thinking a few more years of learning critical thinking and essay writing skills is needed to get a good result in English. Ds may find the maths paper ok - but I am concerned more about English. Also why spend a year hothousing kids in maths and english exam passing? Why not just continue to build on their skills and enjoyment of the subject - I always prefer enrichment over pure attainment for able children. I am just struggling to see how ds benefits from all this in the long run.

BossWitch Mon 12-Sep-16 11:21:09

The new gcses? They will definitely fail English, don't know about maths. The amount of content is massive, the timings of the exam are awful, the whole thing is designed to make lots more 16 year olds fail for God's sake, why would they think it's a good idea to put year 8 through it?!

Also - and sorry if I've misunderstood this - they will be taking the gcse while still at middle school? What the fuck will they spend 3 years doing at high school then??

I would speak to the school asap and get clarification on this. It sounds mad.

bigmouthstrikesagain Mon 12-Sep-16 11:26:40

It looks like the English qualification is actually the OCR Thinking and reasoning skills course which offers a GCSE level qualification but is not the standard English GCSE - which is a little reassuring. They have been getting A-C passes for a few years (according to the latest OFSTED of the middle school).

tiggytape Mon 12-Sep-16 11:28:03

This doesn't sound right at all. Ask the school - I am sure something has got lost in translation somewhere. Maybe they are going to start studying for the new GCSE soon?

I simply cannot believe he is going to take English and Maths next May. The exams next May will be the first sitting of the new English and Maths GCSEs (grade 9-1) and will be much harder than what has gone before.

The maths exam has some content that used to be in the A Level syllabus.

The English exams require knowledge of many set texts and poems which the current Year 11's are struggling to finish having only started them last year. Unless Year 8 have already read Lord of the Flies, An Inspector Calls, Jekyll and Hyde, one of Shakespeare's play in full analytical detail and a whole host of poems on war, conflict, love and loss, they simply won't know anything that's going to be covered in the exams.

The grade for a pass will also be higher than before (the new good pass mark will be set at the level of an old high C / low B so those at low C standard won't get a good pass)
There is no separate tier for English - it is the same exam for all abilities so will be challenging.
And finally schools are required to only list first attempts in league tables and I very much doubt they want to risk a whole year group being seen to fail 3 crucial GCSEs as most of them surely would.

bigmouthstrikesagain Mon 12-Sep-16 11:28:45

I should equivalent to A_C as the course has a different grading structure.

bigmouthstrikesagain Mon 12-Sep-16 11:34:11

Yes I was most thrown by the English exam but it seems that he will not be doing the English GCSE just studying for the Thinking and reasoning course in his English lessons (so I can understand his assumption). But the Maths one I will need to investigate further.

tiggytape Mon 12-Sep-16 11:34:36

OCR Thinking and reasoning skills course is not a GCSE. It is a level 2 qualification roughly equivalent to half a GCSE and suitable for gifted students from Year 7 - Year 9 and all students in KS4 onwards.

Abraiid2 Mon 12-Sep-16 11:36:13

I would not be happy with this. They simply won't do as well as they would later on and these particular exams are very important.

BossWitch Mon 12-Sep-16 11:40:13

That is good news about the English. However I would also check with the school what English skills will be covered in their lessons, as he could have a years catch up to do when he hits high school if he's not been focused on actual English work. A teacher friend of mine had a nightmare with this a few years back, her school decided that everyone would do media studies gcse in year 9 in "English lessons" (selective school, so all academically capable, in the days when it was all about getting 13 gcses no matter what they were) but it meant that they had to really work the kids hard to get them back up to standard in year 10 and 11.

I wonder what the high school make of it?

ShanghaiDiva Mon 12-Sep-16 11:41:30

DS took maths early - year 10 instead of 11 but his school only enters candidates who are likely to secure A* and they then take the AS at the end of year 11.
He did take 2 gcses very early - year 7 and year 8, but these were foreign languages where the level of sophistication required for written work is much lower than for English gcse.

VimFuego101 Mon 12-Sep-16 11:43:05

I would not be happy about this. Why push them to take it early and risk them scraping through with a low grade? If he gets, say, a C, and retakes later, does he have to declare the C on his UCAS form?

bigmouthstrikesagain Mon 12-Sep-16 11:49:17

Thank you Tiggy - I am doing some reading which indicates that is the case, an equivalent to a GCSE Short course! same standard half the content - which makes sense if they are doing it in one year - so I am not concerned about the English. I will need to find out what is actually occurring in Maths now!

bigmouthstrikesagain Mon 12-Sep-16 11:52:33

The lack of standard English lessons is a bit troubling - but as the middle school have been doing this for a while now the high school must be geared up for it - and they have excellent results for GCSE and A levels so hopefully there is a benefit to the process.

RalphSteadmansEye Mon 12-Sep-16 12:13:11

Bonkers. Utterly bonkers.

Traalaa Mon 12-Sep-16 13:18:52

If you've had no info from the school, I'm guessing your son's just misunderstood what the teacher said about maths.

a7mints Mon 12-Sep-16 13:20:44

I agree with the above poster.Your DS has got the wrong end of the stick

tiggytape Mon 12-Sep-16 13:35:54

There is (or was) an equivalent level 2 qualification for maths that acts (or acted) as a precursor to the old style GCSE maths. Maybe that's what they have in mind? It was called Functional Maths when the AQA board offered it.

There is just no way the any school could seriously enter even the top set of Year 8 in to the new, full GCSE maths exam in May and expect them to pass. It would be just beyond crazy.

bigmouthstrikesagain Mon 12-Sep-16 15:16:54

Thank you - this is why I was so thrown by the prospect of ds having two GCSE exams to take before he turns 13 (August born)! It seemed odd at the very least - but I hope the true nature of the courses shall be explained to us parents by his teachers very soon.

Ds has been left with the impression he is working towards 2 GCSE courses this year - but clearly there is more to this. The joy of my boy - his ability (like any human) to get the wrong end of the stick but never ever ever admit he may be wrong!

tiggytape Mon 12-Sep-16 17:02:57

In fairness - if it was explained as being roughly equivalent to a GCSE short course (i.e. half a GCSE) not everyone would know what that meant. He probably just heard the words GCSE and English lessons and put 2 and 2 together.
Hopefully the school will explain it all.

noblegiraffe Mon 12-Sep-16 17:31:58

There's absolutely no way at all that he will be sitting GCSE maths at the end of Y8. Zero. Will be interesting to hear what he will be sitting!

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