I'm just getting my head round Gove's changes to the exam system- and I am even mor horrified than I thought I would be!

(430 Posts)
curlew Wed 22-Jan-14 10:41:00

The three things that leap out at me are 1)all year 11s have to do 8 GCSEs of which 5 have to be EBacc subjects, which will be a real struggle for many, 2) no more tiered papers, so one exam for all, so kids for whom a C is a real achievement have to sit a paper which has also to cater for the effortless A*, and 3)only the first attempt at an exam counts for the league tables. This means for a school like ours, where the vast majority of students are middle/low ability, and where we have always let many have a "practice go" early, won't be able to- because the risk to the school is too great.

TalkinPeace Wed 22-Jan-14 12:01:50

link to which permutation this is?

they change every week after all !

curlew Wed 22-Jan-14 12:07:46

Can't link- it was a presentation to governors last night. It'd better be what's actually happening- we're planning for it!

TalkinPeace Wed 22-Jan-14 12:17:22

oh carp
thank goodness mine are old enough to be ahead of this particular crashing wave
but I'd better start reading up so DH can be ready for when it hits.

GreggsOnLegs Wed 22-Jan-14 12:23:30

The scrapping of tiered papers is very wise imo.
When I was at school I was told even if I got 100% the highest possible grade would've been D which resulted in me not even trying with those subjects.
I would've tried a lot harder if I knew I could've achieved higher grades by doing so.

I never have my head around it because it changes so often. Is this for current year 10s?

oscarwilde Wed 22-Jan-14 12:32:48

1) Sounds fine to me. It will be a struggle for many. I'm not sure why that's an issue. Life is a struggle, allowing children to opt out of tougher subjects isn't doing us any favours. SN children should be given extra time or exam assistance to complete.
2) I think core subjects (maths, english, foreign language and a science) should have at least 2 different tiers)
3) Can't the school run mock exams "to have a go" which the teachers mark? Why does the state have to fund multiple go's?

Trapper Wed 22-Jan-14 12:40:21

Back in my day we used mock papers it past papers to practice - I am not sure when this concept of multiple attempts throughout the year came in? Presumably it results in more money earmarked for education being re-routed to accreditors? I agree with only doing the exam once, personally.

Greggs that 3 tier system is gone now, atm the Foundation Tier candidates can get a C.

I taught GCSE English for 11 years and currently mark GCSE papers. I am very very worried about those many children towards the bottom of the ability range. Honestly, I could weep.

hellsbells99 Wed 22-Jan-14 12:44:53

Gove only understands the needs of children that are grammar school material imo. None of his changes cater for lower ability children.

PiqueABoo Wed 22-Jan-14 12:59:14

Last time I checked maths was supposed to retain two-tiers, English will be untiered and the status of the rest was vague & fuzzy.

oscarwilde Wed 22-Jan-14 12:59:26

Leaving SN children aside completely, surely the issue is more resources being available to support "lower ability children" and the subject matter actually being examined than how many attempts a child has at taking the exam?

IHeart - this is a genuine question - why could you weep? Because they will fail within the new structure? Or because it will demotivate them? Or is there also a new syllabus which combined with the new examination structures will only favour performing students?

I'd agree with Greggs to some extent. Back in the day I sat a lower tier paper for a core subject which I was v weak in. However, I needed to at least get an A,B,C in it to pass the entire state exams (not UK educated). I put the minimum of effort into it knowing that it would never count towards uni entrance requirements other than to show that a standard had been reached.

oscarwilde Wed 22-Jan-14 13:01:34

Baffling decision not to tier English even though it is a first language for most of the population. Not every student will have a interest or aptitude for Shakespeare and poetry. Those students will end up with a grade that makes them look illiterate to those of us that left school 20 yrs ago and haven't got the first idea what's on the syllabus now.

curlew Wed 22-Jan-14 13:34:30

Those who think scrapping the tiered papers is a good idea- there are many children (not the children of mumsnetters, obviously!) for whom getting a C is a real, cause for celebration,achievement. What is the advantage of them sitting a paper where you could get an A*? Apart from the practicalities, you will end up with that well deserved, worked for C looking like a very underwhelming achievement if they could only do a fraction of the paper.......

bigTillyMint Wed 22-Jan-14 13:36:31

That was exactly what I was going to say Curlew.

curlew Wed 22-Jan-14 13:36:37

"Sounds fine to me. It will be a struggle for many. I'm not sure why that's an issue. Life is a struggle, allowing children to opt out of tougher subjects isn't doing us any favours."

But what's the point of giving kids a goal they just can't achieve?

allmycats Wed 22-Jan-14 14:15:35

There were no tiered papers in my day but there were different exams
i.e. GCE, CSE and there was only 1 go at them - I do find it difficult to comprehend that someone can get a C grade in a subject such as English, yet they cannot express themselves properly, cannot spell quite simple words, have no idea about the use of tenses, cannot write legibly etc etc. IMO this sort of situation devalues the C grade. I cannot also work out how a Grade A can be at say 70% one year 80% another year and 65% another year. I do not care how many people in percentage terms are at a certain level in a certain year/time period.We need to know the true value of these grades and they should be set in stone, not moved to suit. As to taking multiple goes at an exam, what is wrong with the old system of taking 'mock papers' ?
It does young people no favours whatsoever to set them up to fail BUT this is exactly what the current system does when someone gets a C grade but they are simply not up to what an employer expects of some one with this grade.
If grades are from G-A and some one is aiming for an F grade and they get it then they have achieved, if by some chance they actually come out with a D then they will be even more pleased with their achievements.

crazymum53 Wed 22-Jan-14 14:38:25

In reply to allmycats in the days when there were 2 separate exams O level and CSE it was possible for some pupils to be entered for both exams. It is not possible for students to be entered for both foundation and Higher tier at GCSE (because the exams are sat on the same day and some questions are the same). But if the exams could be modified to enable this to occur, this would be an alternative solution to that proposed by Mr. Gove.
OP my OH is a secondary school governor and has seen a similar presentation.

oscarwilde Wed 22-Jan-14 14:39:13

But what's the point of giving kids a goal they just can't achieve?

Personally, I think that the point is exactly as you pointed out there are many children for whom getting a C is a real, cause for celebration,achievement. And frankly getting a C grade is not a reason to be disappointed where a child has worked hard for that result.

The problem is that any grade lower than an A* seems to have been totally undervalued and Allmycats example of fluctuating percentages illustrates this perfectly. An A is given for a grade between 85% and 100%. End of discussion. If we really need an A* then 95-100%

Creating a situation where they get an A in an easier paper which doesn't reflect their true capability and is totally worthless in the eyes of the employment market doesn't do them any favours imo.

To go back to your point - what's the point of giving kids a goal that they can't achieve? No state exam given to state educated children with no special educational needs should be beyond their capabilty to achieve a C in with hard work. It is shameful that we have taken the approach in the past to simply massage the exam system to hide the truth that we are failing these kids.

TheLeftovermonster Wed 22-Jan-14 14:43:36

I like the lack of tiered papers!

It means that kids won't be limited to studying only the basics they need to get a C. There is more to learning than exam results.

For me, personally, it means that DS, who is intelligent but very, very dyslexic, will study the proper English curriculum and not some cut-down version, even if he only gets a C or a D.
At least I hope that's how it works!

bigTillyMint Wed 22-Jan-14 14:47:08

Oscarwilde, I may be wrong, but I don't think you can achieve an A on the lower tier papers. I think they are designed for children for whom an A is out of reach.

curlew Wed 22-Jan-14 14:49:40

"To go back to your point - what's the point of giving kids a goal that they can't achieve? No state exam given to state educated children with no special educational needs should be beyond their capabilty to achieve a C in with hard work. It is shameful that we have taken the approach in the past to simply massage the exam system to hide the truth that we are failing these"

You miss my point- or I expressed it badly! Under the new system, the paper which everyone will take will be one in which you can get an A* (or a 9, as I think it's going to be called). If you are a person for whom a C is a real achievement, how is being presented with that paper going to be anything but a kick in the face, and a complete devaluing of your hard worked for C?

oscarwilde Wed 22-Jan-14 14:50:45

Hi Tilly - I hope not. That's just plain stupid imo confused. If it's a cut down syllabus for a lower tier, the grading structure should allow for someone to get an A in it.
If that A is the equivalent of a D at the higher paper then it is for the student to decide whether or not they wish to attempt the more difficult paper

ReallyTired Wed 22-Jan-14 14:54:34

I am glad that the govenment is getting rid of the culture of endless resits and modules. It means that children get a chance to learn instead of endless revision and constantly being taught to the test.

A certifcate with a grade E on it for GCSE might as well be used for toilet paper. All it does is certify that the person is clueless in a particular subject. Do we really need to grade levels of crapiness? Prehaps its kinder not to include that grade E in History on a certificate which could be shown to an employer in future years.

Schools can still have mock exams to see if a child is ready for the real test. Prehaps we can have the situation where low attaining children take their exams aged 17 and get some decent grades. Often family circumstance means that a child needs that little point longer to get to the standard to sit GCSEs and get decent grades.

In the past working class children have been written off by not being allowed the opportunity to study Shakesphere or three seperate sciences.

However I think we need to think how we recongise vocational skills. Some children are happiest being car mechanics. However its important that they make that decision at an age where they are old enough to understand the advantages and disadvantages.

curlew Wed 22-Jan-14 14:58:25

Car mechanics is not on the government approved list of vocational subjects. Neither is horticulture- a blow for our school, which is on the edge of a very rural area, with lots of "on the land" type work.

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