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Progress 8 - less focus on C/D borderline and consequences for grade 4 students

(117 Posts)
noblegiraffe Mon 13-Feb-17 11:42:15

So we are now all about progress 8, it's progress that counts and getting a B to an A is as valuable as getting a D to a C (except for slight quibbles about numeric values). This is seen as a good thing, all pupils will get support to reach their targets.

What I'm seeing: There is a limited amount of maths intervention available to help students - 1-1 and small group tuition at tutor times and so on. Previously this was focused on C/D borderline kids to help them get the magic C grade and boost the school headline figures. Now it is given to students who are falling well short of their target grade, who need the double weighted boost of an increase in a maths grade to improve their overall score.
I teach several students who are sitting on a 3, and with extra support could reach a 4 - the key grade where they won't have to resit in sixth form, and which will ensure access to certain college courses. Getting a 4 would be extremely important to them. They are not on the intervention lists, and not getting the help that they would have got in previous years, instead it's going to other, higher (and lower) achieving students. The grade that is important to them is no longer important to the school.

In practice 'more support for all' seems to mean 'less support for those to whom it really matters'.

NWgirls Mon 13-Feb-17 13:49:36

Noble: As a parent, and considering this at the macro/national level, I think the move to Progress 8 and away from the cliff edge focus on getting Cs is extremely healthy. Interventions that are expected to lead to the biggest "bang for the buck" in terms of progress should be the main focus - irrespective of where on the ability scale a student is. This new focus should therefore improve effectivess of schools.

It might even help dampen the parental push/panic to access selective schools (in both sectors) rather than their local comps - as one of the current reasons to discard (some or perhaps even many?) comps is that they only seem to care about the C (4).

It might seem cruel at the individual pupil level for those who are on the cusp of C/4, but if all schools are getting these new incentives and priortising their support where most progress is expected across the ability range, the FE intake is perhaps just as fair as prior to this change. (Economists would at least likely approve of such a way to allocate a scarce resource).

pointythings Mon 13-Feb-17 14:02:41

DD'a school is laying on interventions for everyone, no matter what their projected. It must be incredibly hard on the teachers, I admire them hugely for making the commitment. DD1 is a high achiever so she is in groups focusing on the move from 7 to 8 and 8 to 9 (with the caveat that no-one knows what a 9 looks like and they are very open about that). DD's best friend is borderline 4/5 in maths and English and has intervention available for both - and if she progresses well the plan is to see how close to 6 they can get. (She lives with us during the week so I'm aware of where she is).
Intervention is available in all subjects.

But that is in a big school with a lot of resources. I doubt it's possible everywhere.

HPFA Mon 13-Feb-17 14:25:37

I too dislike the double weighting for English and Maths. Obviously it's essential to pass these subjects. But why should a B in Maths be rewarded with 12 points and an A* in History get 8?

Tiffin Girls is one of the most academically selective schools in the country. It's exam results are extremely good as you would expect:

www.tiffingirls.kingston.sch.uk/getattachment/1e81ba14-90b4-4441-b51a-392229e40421/Exam_results_2016.aspx

Yet notice that whilst in Maths 90% got A*s and no-one got below an A, in History "only" 50% got A*s and 13% got Bs.

No insult to Maths intended!

tiggytape Mon 13-Feb-17 14:48:34

That might be down to how they selected their students HPFA?
The current Year 12 students entered grammar schools when the focus in 11+ exam was often heavily maths and reasoning based. Less weight was placed on English. From around 2012 many grammars dropped some of the obscure reasoning tests and introduced elements of extended writing. I don't know if that applies to Tiffins necessarily but it was a change that seemed to be quite general.

I agree noble that intervention should not just be 'bang for buck' based but should take into account that a 1 grade improvement between now and the summer is vastly more important for children on the 3 / 4 borderline than for, say , children on the 7 / 8 borderline.

HPFA Mon 13-Feb-17 14:58:29

Having got an A in History in O-Level and a C in Maths naturally I think an A in History is superior!

But take the point. Could also be due to less subjectivity in marking?

TeenAndTween Mon 13-Feb-17 15:08:07

My DDs' secondary has traditionally done what is right for the individual children, even if it has cost them in terms of overall statistics. (e.g. offering level 1 courses to least able).

I hope it continues to do so.

noblegiraffe Mon 13-Feb-17 15:20:01

Intervention is available in all subjects.

My school is, of course, offering after school and lunchtime revision sessions available to all, however the targeted intervention I'm talking about is where pupils are removed from PE/tutor time/PSHE or similar for personal 1-1 or 1-2/3tuition with specially hired teachers aimed specifically at them, which is obviously going to be more effective than a more generic revision session. There is a hit list of targeted students.

Biggest "bang for the buck in terms of progress" interventions are also short-term thinking. More kids failing maths = more having to resit in sixth form (or even not getting into sixth form) putting pressure on resources there.

noblegiraffe Mon 13-Feb-17 15:22:02

But why should a B in Maths be rewarded with 12 points and an A* in History get 8?

Because GCSE maths has about double the content of GCSE history. Maths teachers have for years been lobbying for two maths GCSEs. Report after report have recommended this to the government.

The government ignored all the recommendations and just said 'we'll pretend it's two for the league tables'.

LooseAtTheSeams Mon 13-Feb-17 16:10:03

I agree with noble that this is a worrying way of interpreting the idea behind Progress 8. I think it's great to have targeted intervention for higher grades but not at the expense of a solid 3 who could get a 4 with this kind of help. The long-term impact on that student in terms of access to further training and jobs can't be underestimated. It's hard enough to get students through English resits in further ed (my area) but it's an even bigger struggle for maths teachers.

user7214743615 Mon 13-Feb-17 16:22:04

I think it's great to have targeted intervention for higher grades but not at the expense of a solid 3 who could get a 4 with this kind of help.

But they shouldn't be at the expense of each other.

Not enough state school children get into the top university courses precisely because some of them don't get as strong grades as they should.

Parental support for grammar schools (and there is quite a lot, despite the impression MN gives) is increased by schools targeting their resources on borderline passing children, and not helping higher ability children to achieve their full potential.

So maybe progress 8 is not making things better but the status quo was not OK either.

noblegiraffe Mon 13-Feb-17 16:30:42

You have one teacher slot and two students.

One student is currently on a 1 with a target of a 3.

One is currently on a 3 with a target of a 4.

Which should get the intervention?

TeenAndTween Mon 13-Feb-17 16:43:49

The 3 to 4 obviously. smile

I'm glad that DD received extra help in English (getting a D/E up to C) rather than in Maths (stretch prediction an A, she missed it by 6 marks).

State school resources for interventions are limited. They need to go where they will have most long term benefit. And at y11 that is getting Ds to Cs, not Bs to As or As to A*s. general targeted revision sessions will need to do for that, not 1-1s.

cantkeepawayforever Mon 13-Feb-17 18:33:04

As I understand it, this will change even further this year for non 1-9 subjects, as instead of an even ladder of points there will be bigger steps between the 'value' of each grade.

So G to F, F to E will be gaps of 0.5 points.
E to D, D to C gaps of 1 point
C top B, B to A and A to A* gaps of 1.5 points

Then when everything is fully reformed (and immediately for already 1-9 subjects), it will go back to being 1 point gaps between 3 and 4, 8 and 9, 1 and 2.

I can already see some dysfunctional behaviour around specific help / pep talks being given to those on the higher borderlines rather than on those working between the lower ones.

Fourmantent Mon 13-Feb-17 20:34:28

Another possible consequence is that students who would be better suited to "softer" subjects or to courses that don't count (entry level, etc) will be forced (due to option blocks and removal of other exams) to take subjects that carry more points.

user7214743615 Mon 13-Feb-17 20:44:18

State school resources for interventions are limited. They need to go where they will have most long term benefit. And at y11 that is getting Ds to Cs, not Bs to As or As to A stars.

But with this attitude parents whose kids are in the groups getting As and Bs, and then not doing as well at A level as they should, will push for grammars/selective schools so that their kids get the attention they deserve. (An A or B at GCSE rather than an A star or A does typically lead to lower performance at A level in that subject.)

If we want our economy to be competitive we have to pump more resources into education so that low, middle and high ability children all achieve their potential. Not getting A stars and As in GCSE sciences, for example, does discourage kids from taking the subjects to A level and thus directly leads to the current shortages of STEM workers.

MN dismisses the effects of high achievers dropping a grade as unimportant compared to children missing passes, but both matter.

TeenAndTween Tue 14-Feb-17 08:46:26

user If a pupil needs 1-1 intervention (which is the issue we are discussing I think) to get from say a B to an A in maths then they shouldn't be thinking about doing it for A level anyway. My daughter was within a hair's width of an A for maths GCSE. If she had just scraped it, it still wouldn't have made her any more capable of passing a maths A level than next door's cat.

Schools can and do put on targeted revision sessions for A/A* or B/A maths and science etc.

Not having a C in English or Maths has way more ongoing life impact for pupils. It stops them accessing courses, means they have to spend time retaking, stops people getting jobs.

pieceofpurplesky Tue 14-Feb-17 08:59:22

Teen what if you Read what noble wrote you will see that the C/D is no longer the focus - that is the point of her post.
Noble I agree 100% as this is happening at my school and at the schools where various friends teach. Where I am PP pupils get maths and English intervention as priority. Others attend after school etc. Other subjects have to do this in their own time too.
I teach English and the new syllabus a disaster for all but the highest ability pupils.

TeenAndTween Tue 14-Feb-17 09:02:24

piece Exactly. The focus is moving away from D/C and that is wrong . The focus should stay on D/C and stuff what that means to a school's progress 8.

Fourmantent Tue 14-Feb-17 09:09:17

I wonder if this is why funding is about to be cut from our school's bottom set maths intervention groups?

MaisyPops Tue 14-Feb-17 11:56:59

*But they shouldn't be at the expense of each other.
Not enough state school children get into the top university courses precisely because some of them don't get as strong grades as they should.*

Just throwing it out there that its very easy to say intervention for everyone, but with what staff? What money? What space in the timetable? What lessons should a GCSE student lose to do all of this extra? Or should staff give up multiple nights unpaid to do this (& sod the impact on their own wellbeing and family)?

I get fed up of being asked "what extra intervention I'm offering" by parents. I teach the content to a high standard and spend hours giving personalised feedback (which a handful of students - usually the ones who claim intervention) ignore. I run a weekly after school revision session (again not attended by the ones demanding intervention). I'm doing what I need to be doing. How much revision as your child been doing? Reply: 'not as much as they could be but....' And have they used the revision packs I've given? 'What revision packs?'

If i didnt work hard at school durig my exams theres no way my parents would be on at the teachers to do 1-1. They'd have kicked my attitude into shape.

cantkeepawayforever Tue 14-Feb-17 12:51:31

I am torn about this, because I can see how the D/C borderline has become so entrenched as 'THE' key issue that it has been actively unfair to those working at other levels - both those below D, and those above C.

It's difficult because the fair thing to do is to give equal priority to all children to maximise their potential, whereas the reality is that some borderlines have much more 'average impact' going forward.

However, while the C/D borderline - currently the 3/4 borderline, will become the 4/5 borderline - remains something of a 'cliffhanger', there are others that do bar the way of specific children moving forward. So for example accessing A-level history in many school requires a high English grade, a non A/A* in a key subject might be the difference between an able child accessing a top-tier university and the tier below, or Bs that could be As may bar children from going to the sixth form provider of their choice, regardless of how well they might be able to do once they are there.

I also feel that perhaps, someone used 1:1 could in fact have a much higher total impact when used 1:8 - so the same amount of resource used for carefully-chosen groups rather than particular individuals could be much more successful. I suppose what I'm saying is, would I, given 1 member of staff for 30 minutes twice a week, see it as 'better' that 1 child was pushed from a 3 to a 4, or a whole group was moved from, say, a 5 to the 6 they need to access the 6th form?

user7214743615 Tue 14-Feb-17 13:49:48

I teach the content to a high standard and spend hours giving personalised feedback (which a handful of students - usually the ones who claim intervention) ignore.

Why do you take so personally the statement (which is born out by studies and data) that some high ability children in some state schools do not achieve as high grades as they could?

Maybe this doesn't happen in the school you teach in but would you really claim that students with A star potential in a school in which very few achieve As always get taught the content to the right standard to get an A star?

And would you really say that it is always the students that aren't studying who just miss out on an A or A star? I certainly have many colleagues, friends, acquaintances who have complained that schools target almost all of their resources for extra sessions on the just passing. It is a very wide spread feeling that high ability children are not getting the deal they should be.

Teachers on this thread find it reasonable to target resources at the just passing, knowing that in reality there won't be additional resources to help the others. I get that. I just don't think it's reasonable that the resources aren't there to help everybody achieve their full potential. We shouldn't pretend that our education system isn't feeling the effects of under investment.

TeenAndTween Tue 14-Feb-17 14:35:32

I've got an idea. Give everyone 1-1 tuition from age 4-18. That will help everyone meet their potential. hmm

I find it hard to believe that a child's life is blighted if they 'only' get an A compared with an A*. Maybe their pride, but what real effect on their future?

Of course children who do better at GCSE do on average better at A level, but I don't believe A level potential is actually improved by scraping up a grade due to 1-1 intervention.

And if a 6th form has very high entry requirements, if too many pupils start meeting those requirements due to being 1-1 supported over a boundary, then won't it only go and raise the requirements?
Our local high performing 6th forms only asks for 5A*-C, plus certain subject specific grades. Not the 6As or whatever I read about on here sometimes. (Maybe that is why I am more relaxed about it all?)

cantkeepawayforever Tue 14-Feb-17 14:46:22

i do think this might be very akin to the 'all schools focus their resources on [insert group my child doesn't belong to]' commentary, in which parents of high achievers comment that all support goes to low achievers; parents of middle achievers say they are overlooked in favour of high and low achievers; parents of SEN children feel that their children's needs are not properly met because teachers focus on the more middle ability children - ie that schools cannot cater perfectly to everyone, all of the time and thus everyone feels slightly short-changed!

I would actually say that I don't know whether anyone, except those who routinely need 1:1 throughout their education, should get 1:1 to push them 'artificially' over a GCSE grade boundary. Small group revision sessions - yes, maybe, for all. But 1:1 for a few and nothing for others? Not so much.

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