gcses in year 10

(70 Posts)
kennyjent Thu 03-Oct-13 14:39:14

My children's school just announced to year 10 parents that all yr 10 pupils will be taking maths and eng lang gcse at end year 10, in order to try and prevent stress of doing all subjects at end year 11, and to teach to failings for resits if need be. Gove says early entry damages pupils and the 'evidence' says pupils entered early do less well overall, even allowing for resits. Anyone know what his evidence is? Thoughts?

friday16 Thu 03-Oct-13 16:10:29

My children's school just announced to year 10 parents that all yr 10 pupils will be taking maths and eng lang gcse at end year 10, in order to try and prevent stress of doing all subjects at end year 11, and to teach to failings for resits if need be.

I'm not sure why you put scare quotes around "evidence": both Ofsted Report and the DfE Report are fairly serious pieces of work.

The question is: will someone who gets a B at the end of Y10 be supported to get an A or A* at the end of Y11? And if they are, what was the point in taking it early anyway?

The school also appears to have been failing to read the newspapers, because this is precisely the behaviour that the government is clamping down on, so the school will be reducing its league table results to no good purpose. Ofsted are now asking deep and searching questions about early entry (early entry for English, in particular) and if the school doesn't have a good story it's grounds for strong criticism.

Note: universities don't give a toss when you did your GCSE Maths or English. Grade B is grade B is grade B. You don't get credit for doing it earlier.

There has been a huge trend for early entry in recent years. In my opinion it is very rarely in the child's best interest. GCSEs are designed for 16 year olds and all but a few would do better waiting until year 11.
It's not always a good idea for A* students. Both of mine did Maths in Year 10 and both got A*. In y11 they did statistics. This means that when they come to do A level they had been a year without doing maths.
I gather Gove's latest plan is to only count the grade achieved at the first sitting, this should deter blanket early entry.

<faints at prospect of agreeing with Michael Gove>

noblegiraffe Thu 03-Oct-13 16:27:56

This is a shit decision and should be challenged in the strongest terms. The DfE report examining the stats linked to above is very clear on this and should be presented to the school.

friday16 Thu 03-Oct-13 17:05:37

Both of mine did Maths in Year 10 and both got A. In y11 they did statistics. This means that when they come to do A level they had been a year without doing maths.*

There are claimed to be ways around this. There's the OCR (and other boards, I think) FSMQ in Additional Maths and I think there's now a GCSE in Additional (Further? Advanced? Something else?) Maths. So someone's who's done GCSE Maths in Y10 can do a linking qualification that leads into A Level. My children did/are doing the FSQM Ad Maths, and it's a reasonable qualification.

However, (a) the whole cohort didn't get A*, so those students who didn't are disadvantaged (b) there's nothing stopping the school from teaching GCSE in more depth over an additional year to secure more A*s and to provide a smoother link to AS (c) unless the school is impervious to new entrants, the A level group will contain people who didn't do the FSQM so C1 and C2 have to be taught from scratch anyway and (d) it's not as though C1 and C2 are that hard anyway. Better to have a very solid understanding of the GCSE material than a thin understanding of some other stuff that's going to be re-taught anyway.

friday16 I agree with all that you say but the school had no interest in doing FSMQ or additional maths (I asked). They don't have a sixth form so have no interest in how it affects teaching A level.
I didn't phrase it very well, my point was that early entry is not even advantageous for potential A* students. It only benefits the school.

ohnoimnot Thu 03-Oct-13 18:16:14

All Uni`s like children to do ALL the exams at the same time. I dont see the point in doing them early.

creamteas Thu 03-Oct-13 20:33:20

My DCs school does year 10 entry for English Lang and Maths. In year 11, if they have hit their target grades, they take English Lit and FSMQ. If not they resit. This works really well (and has improved A level Maths grades as well).

When they were just taken in year 11, they had a much higher rate of DC leaving school without either of them.

Early entry is a problem when it is only done for league table purposes is a bad thing, but not if it is run properly to enhance all students results.

urbancupcake Thu 03-Oct-13 21:07:12

Cant believe I'm agreeing with Gove too, but blooming great news. Am I right by saying that some Russell Group Uni's actually prefer/demand for some of their courses that all the GCSE's were taken at the same time to demonstrate they can handle the workload???

friday16 Thu 03-Oct-13 21:25:13

Am I right by saying that some Russell Group Uni's actually prefer/demand for some of their courses that all the GCSE's were taken at the same time to demonstrate they can handle the workload???

That's certainly true, in terms, for some medical schools. See, for example, Sheffield says "Our usual offer for subjects taken at A2 level is AAA and it is expected that these will be taken in one sitting.". It also says, more generally, "It is expected that all examinations be taken in one sitting, unfortunately we are unable to consider examinations taken early or resit examinations." but it's not clear if that relates to GCSEs.

In broad terms, a lot of GCSE early entry schemes in 11-18 schools are followed with three year A levels, starting the AS in Y11. That doesn't of necessity result in taking the AS and the A2 a year early, but that's the way it's usually sold to people.

EustonRoad Thu 03-Oct-13 22:38:33

My younger child did 2 GCSEs at the end of year 9, will sit 2 more in November and another 2 in summer do should have 7 by the end of year 10.

The other side of the coin is my elder child in a super selective who did 12 in one sitting - the pressure for a clean sweep of A or preferably A* was intense and several kids cracked up under the pressure. Then you get arrogant cunts like Gove saying how easy prays they all are - makes me sick.

My personal preference at the moment is spreading them. I don't necessarily agree grades will be lower because the teaching is intense - depends on the actual child. I think lower grades are a lesser evil than a nervous breakdown.

I

EustonRoad Thu 03-Oct-13 22:39:52

Stupid phone! 6 not 7 and easy peasy!

creamteas Fri 04-Oct-13 09:12:27

Am I right by saying that some Russell Group Uni's actually prefer/demand for some of their courses that all the GCSE's were taken at the same time to demonstrate they can handle the workload???

The vast majority of courses at RG university do not routinely asked for A levels to be taken at one sitting, this is only the position of a tiny minority

And of these, no one to my knowledge asks about the timing of GCSEs!

Apart from anything else, the majority of university degrees (even at RG unis) are modular with the degree result not just determined by the final year. So why on earth would they ask for something that they are not even practicing themselves!

friday16 Fri 04-Oct-13 09:14:03

The vast majority of courses at RG university do not routinely asked for A levels to be taken at one sitting, this is only the position of a tiny minority

But medicine has become the sine qua non of pushy parents, so that tiny minority has a disproportionate influence on some schools' thinking.

creamteas Fri 04-Oct-13 09:23:49

This thread is on GCSEs early entry.

What I was trying to say, without being too rude, is that your post was without any substance.

Suggesting that because a tiny minority of university courses ask for A levels in one sitting, that parents should worry about university entry with the timing of GCSEs is unnecessary scaremongering.

ErrolTheDragon Fri 04-Oct-13 09:37:37

>Cant believe I'm agreeing with Gove too, but blooming great news

yes - except (as per usual with him) its bounced in without allowing schools time to adapt. The OPs school will have already planned on this timing.

In her position though I'd be grilling the school. One question is how many subjects overall the kids are expected to do - as we're talking about university requirements, most seem to want ~8 solid passes rather than over a dozen. The way to reduce the stress of too many exams at once is (wait for this revolutionary concept!) for pupils to do a number they can cope with - which may be 11-12 for some but probably not for most.

I'm really glad my DDs school doesn't do any early entries.

noblegiraffe Fri 04-Oct-13 09:42:22

I suppose there is still a problem with those bonkers schools who spread GCSEs from Y9 to Y11. They won't care that it's only the first result that counts for the league tables because they don't enter for resits anyway, and just lumber their kids with a (bigger) set of lower grades.

Kez100 Fri 04-Oct-13 09:53:21

My view is that Gove hasn't a clue. Early entry is chosen per student can be good for them.

It gives children who are A* candidates in year 10 a chance to bag a grade and move on to much higher work and sit a further higher exam in year 11. It allows candidates who will be happy with a C grade to bank it and concentrate on other subjects that matter more to them. It gives the school an understanding of where the child is in terms of grade (important when the Government keep changing borderlines on a whim, teachers can better predict if they have some real evidence of grade) and it allows schools to use the current syllabus not one which the Government have decided will be changed in the middle of teaching it! (i.e this years, year 11s whose speaking and listening exam work completed in year 10 has been suddenly, overnight, pulled from the syllabus and this assessment will not be part of their final grade at all and that includes dyslexics who may have managed a A* in speaking and listening but will struggle with the written areas more.)

So, personally, I would trust a school more than Gove. I am sure a few have alterior motives due to league tables but Gove appears to have just as many alterior motives. I can see why schools might choose to get in first as Gove cannot be trusted not to change syllabuses or assessments overnight. At least with a grade you know where you are - whatever that grade is.

longingforsomesleep Fri 04-Oct-13 09:55:29

I'm always told that the thinking behind early maths at our school is that it means students can take longer over A level maths which is considerably harder. Thus the school is trying to do the best for their pupils by maximising their chances of a good grade at A2 maths.

BUT that would be fine if they only put those pupils in for early entry who were ready for it. My youngest (year 10) does maths GCSE next months and has been getting A* on practice papers for a long time. I think he's more that ready to do it and to start on AS maths straight afterwards. His brother did it at the same time and I don't believe he was ready for it. He got an A (was getting B-A on practice papers) but I really don't believe he had consolidated his gcse maths. It's too much of a blunt tool to say the whole of the top set can do maths early. If they could pick out those students who were really ready for it then fine. But they don't seem able to do that.

Kez100 Fri 04-Oct-13 09:58:52

I've just read that back and I am not against many changes that have been brought in but I am very much against the speed and unprofessional way it has been done. Gove has brought a lot of this on himself by implementing his reforms in the way he has.

noblegiraffe lumber their kids with a (bigger) set of lower grades.
My niece took GCSE Maths in year 9 and scraped a C. Then did no more maths. She has over a dozen mediocre grade GCSEs and now wants to teach but her lack of maths is a problem.

gazzalw Fri 04-Oct-13 10:03:57

When I was at a grammar school it was common practice to take English at the end of Year 10 and the clever ones did Maths early too (and then statistics in two terms). Standard practice to free up timetable time for the other (potentially) ten subjects hmm.

exexpat Fri 04-Oct-13 10:06:31

At DS's school only the top sets for maths and French do GCSE a year early - basically they are only in those sets if they are expected to get A*s even doing it a year early, and 95% of them do (one or two 'only' get As).

That makes sense to me, particularly for maths - able mathematicians would often be capable of doing the GCSE two or three years early, and this way they get to move on to more interesting stuff before the 6th form. I had more doubts about French, as DS had only been doing it for four years. He did get an A*, but I think the rush to GCSE meant there was more teaching-to-the-test and less actually learning to speak French, and he has now gone off languages, which I think is partly due to the pressure to learn long lists of vocab etc.

Putting an entire year - including all ability groups - in for GCSEs a year early sounds crazy to me, particularly when it is the crucial pair of English and Maths. Much better to give them as long as possible to do as well as they possibly can. If they want to get any GCSEs out of the way, it would be better to pick non-core subjects, IMO, so that not doing so well is not such a disaster.

exexpat Fri 04-Oct-13 10:10:21

Oh, and I'd agree with Errol that a better way to reduce stress would just be to cut the number of GCSEs - DS's school only allows a maximum of 10, which is plenty. Some schools make children do 12 or 14 GCSEs or equivalents - I presume all the low grades add up and make a difference to the league tables, but it would be much better for most children to do fewer and better.

exexpat I guess that's a selective school. My DS is at a middle of the road comp. Top set maths take it in year 10 and only 5 out of 30 got A*.
Many are now facing re-takes.

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