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A Level teaching time/ fuding help

(56 Posts)
Piggywaspushed Sat 23-Sep-17 11:47:25

Before going in to full attack mode with DS's sixth form, I want to get some facts straight. I am sure there are people who can help me on wonderful MN!

Can anyone explain how sixth form funding works? I recall hearing a couple of years back that schools are no longer funded 'per leg' as our head used to say, but that they have to prove they are providing a certain number of hours of 'education'? At my place, there was much discussion about how we would be able to prove this to DfE but I didn't pay much attention.

Now, DS has started full A levels in Spanish, business and politics. They have 12 x 50 minute lessons (all doubles) on the timetable per fortnight. In business and politics, two of these lessons (ie one double ) is unstaffed (we have this at my school so I am not unfamiliar with this concept, even if it is not the greatest idea in practice!) so essentially they are having 10 50 minute lessons (some of them are 55 mins : weird). less than a private school but I can live with it.

But here comes the big however..

However, in Spanish (where I also suspect the teacher is not qualified : she is a native speaker, young and not strong in the classroom ) there are FOUR non taught lessons, so only 8 x 50 mins with a teacher per fortnight. Since these are all doubles, he basically only sees the teacher 4 times a fortnight. This is unacceptable for so many reasons! In addition, in the large number of already untaught lessons, work hasn't really been provided or set and MFL is not exactly something you can teach yourself! In case anyone is wondering, this is it : the classes are not shared between two teachers.

I think the school is going to justify this by saying they have 12 lessons, but that's bollocks, isn't it? And it isn't the same as other subjects! I know in French 11 of the 12 lessons are being taught.

It's a shambles.

The one fact I do know is A levels are predicated on 360 hours teaching time and DH reckons that's about 9 hours a fortnight.

They really should have communicated this better, shouldn't they?

Advice? Help? Thoughts? Shared dismay?

Userwhocouldntthinkofagoodname Sat 23-Sep-17 12:23:09

What the heck is an untaught lesson? I have never heard of that, it sounds like homework. The school must be doing something dodgy its mental.

Piggywaspushed Sat 23-Sep-17 12:49:04

They are quite common- blame the government/ funding cuts/ understaffing ...

A clearer example would be:

Anytown High School A level student:

One A level = 10 hours per fortnight on their timetable,

One hour is unstaffed (not on the teachers' timetable as the poor sods are off teaching bottom set year 8) and students are expected (haha!) to be doing work on that subject in that hour.(fat chance)

There is a lot of workload chat in our school about this (for staff not students!)

So in the scenario above, most poeple would say those students were getting 9 hours a fortnight taught time, even if the school can report they are getting 10 hours 'guided learning'.

My DS's situation is more complex than that but we have just worked out that he is getting very little taught time (frankly all I care about!). It's more than average 'guided time ' at 10 h 30 mins per A level but he taught time for bus and pol is 8h 40 and for Spanish is 6h50.

It's because of budget cuts, a teacher ( a brilliant one!) who left, a teacher (a good one!) on maternity leave and a national recruitment crisis in MFL. I sympathise with the school on those fronts but it should not have this kind of impact on learning.

Piggywaspushed Sat 23-Sep-17 12:49:45

Must remember to typo check subject line : it should say funding

titchy Sat 23-Sep-17 12:58:58

Your post is a little confusing - do they have 5 hours per subject per week? 50 mins of which are without a teacher for business and politics, and for Spanish its 1 hour 40 without a teacher?

I'm not sure about the concept of teacherless lessons and I'd question the quality of provision overall. That's said they have more contact hours in two subjects than my dc does, and only a little less in the third subject (four hours per subject per week) so they are fulfilling their funding requirements (although I don't think sixth forms in school have any such requirement as part of funding in the way that colleges do - they're funded differently).

Piggywaspushed Sat 23-Sep-17 13:05:51

Sorry, I know it's a bit confusing. Took me ages to try to make it clearer. Lots of schools do teacherless lessons; it is very normal in state sector.

But, no, as I said, (I think!) they have a fortnightly timetable.

If you want to talk per week for clarity, DS is getting approx 3h25 mins of teaching in Spanish.

Piggywaspushed Sat 23-Sep-17 13:06:59

it's one double lesson per fortnight not taught in business and politics and tow doubles not taught per fortnight in Spanish. they clearly can't staff a session.

Piggywaspushed Sat 23-Sep-17 13:08:45

Sixth forms in schools definitely do have different funding. it's a notorious issue in schools with large sixth forms who are some of the biggest losers in a range of funding decisions and cuts of the Tory years...

noblegiraffe Sat 23-Sep-17 16:28:40

I think full time students need 540 hours of 'planned hours'.

"Planned hours are those that are timetabled, organised and/or supervised by the institution, and take place in line with the institution’s normal working pattern to deliver the study programme during the funding year 2017 to 2018"

The key point here is probably supervised. I understand schools timetabling unstaffed study periods on top of teaching hours, but using them to replace teaching hours is unacceptable.

www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/607246/16_to_19_funding_guidance_2017_to_2018_v_1.0__003_.pdf page 22.

Piggywaspushed Sat 23-Sep-17 16:31:55

Thanks noble. I think it's a bit of a grey area all this - so I may need to go into bat on the lower teaching hours in Spanish to begin with.

I'm not sure there is even ahead of MFL at the moment at the school.

tiggytape Sat 23-Sep-17 17:04:25

The Business and Politics teaching time sounds about right: 9 hours per fortnight is the usual.

So, even though only 10 of the 12 lessons are supervised, that still seems in line with what other state schools offer (assuming at least half of them are the 55 minute lessons you refer to).

Spanish seems to be fewer than the norm (and obviously fewer than his other subjects) so there would definitely be cause to query that. I don't think there's anything you can do about them opting for all double lessons (and therefore having few numbers of contacts over a fortnight) but the total number of hours offered should be the same. Especially, as you say, in a MFL where it is harder to teach yourself and do your own wider reading.

Piggywaspushed Sat 23-Sep-17 17:12:47

Thanks tiggy , I agree. the Bus and Pol work out as about 8 hrs 40. Bit less than ideal but liveable with. the Spanish is much lower.

The school's timetable is a bizarre thing really because the sixth form provision is several miles away from the main school. The poor teachers often have to drive from one site to the other. Thus the timetabling is arranged to facilitate them doing this in lunch hours , for example. I suspect the Spanish teacher cannot teach all the lessons because she is on the other site teaching year 10 or something. This may stop when the 'real' teacher returns from maternity leave but that won't be til next summer I reckon!

tiggytape Sat 23-Sep-17 17:24:18

I wouldn't be happy about the Spanish - it just doesn't seem enough for a subject which is going to be more reliant on taught hours than many others.

And it sounds like the school don't routinely see this as the norm or as ideal either since they offer more taught hours in other subjects and in other MFLs. Even if it is only temporary until Summer, that's a huge chunk of an A Level course gone for this group of Year 12s

pizzaparty11 Sat 23-Sep-17 17:39:14

Some of these contact hours sound apalling! My DC has 5.33 hours per AS level subject per week actual contact and then on top of that she has 2.67 hours (loosely!) supervised private study in total and 2.67 hours 'enrichment'.

tiggytape Sat 23-Sep-17 17:48:44

Pizza - your school offers a very high number overall compared to the norm.

State schools operate for 39 weeks per year
The total number of hours of teaching (or directed learning) needed per A Level subject is 360 hours (so 180 hours per year).

Therefore, each A Level subject requires about 4.6 hours per week.

(towards the end the amount of contact time might be increased for revision sessions etc so most schools say a timetable of 9 hours per fortnight is the norm).

Cafeconleche Sat 23-Sep-17 18:01:22

DS at SFC has one x 3 hour class plus one x 1.5 hour class per A Level per week. Plus lots of unsupervised study periods (they expect high levels of self-discipline...) Plus 2 enrichment periods and a meeting with their tutor once a week. The one subject of DS's 3 A Levels which demands the most taught class time (IMO) is Spanish - and he's fluent!

Piggywaspushed Sat 23-Sep-17 18:14:05

Agreed café and tiggy and , as you may recall café , Spanish is meant to be his best subject...

Piggywaspushed Sat 23-Sep-17 18:14:39

I think we are probably supposed to be grateful they are staffing it at all and keep our counsel.

noblegiraffe Sat 23-Sep-17 18:26:49

It would appear that he's definitely under hours and you've definitely cause for complaint but if they can't get a teacher then what's the solution?

Not too late to look for another sixth form I suppose, but not what you want.

Piggywaspushed Sat 23-Sep-17 18:30:57

Haha! Noble , he has just moved to this one from another one where he managed three days: that's why we feel awkward about raising any issues...

Piggywaspushed Sat 23-Sep-17 18:32:59

I suppose I want them to acknowledge it's not enough and tell me what extra support and intervention they are putting in place for both the students and the staff member to prevent them falling behind.

For example, no work was set for the unsupervised lesson last week.

pizzaparty11 Sat 23-Sep-17 20:42:52

Pizza - your school offers a very high number overall compared to the norm.

BUT the downside is large sets (DDs physics set has 32 in it) and a limited range of subjects.I guess that's how, as a state school, they balance the books

TheOnlyLivingBoyInNewCross Sat 23-Sep-17 20:47:34

Our A Level students get six taught 55 minute lessons per week in each subject.

However, this is an independent school, so shorter terms...

noblegiraffe Sat 23-Sep-17 21:00:27

It's 9 hour a fortnight at my school. I think you can make the obvious comparison to French and say that you understand that recruitment for MFL is difficult but you need to know their plans to address this. Can they buy in some online package for the study sessions? Are they registered and supervised for the study time? As a teacher you'll know that kids fresh out of Y11 aren't the best at getting their heads down in the study room when no one is checking up on them or monitoring their work!

Piggywaspushed Sat 23-Sep-17 21:06:22

pizza nope DS has big classes too. 30 in politics! Very limited choices (he couldn't do French with politics) and quite a narrow range compared to the school I teach at (which he didn't want to come to !)

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