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1 year GCSEs in Year 9!?!?

Discussion in 'Heads of department' started by shaunyboy666, Aug 10, 2014.

  1. Hi,

    My school has introduced 1 year GCSEs next year in certain subjects for Year 9. Most of the HOD that this effects are extremely skeptical but SLT are insistent it is the right move. The options are for the top 40% of Year 9 and in Humanities and MFL (Hist, Geog, Citizenship, Classic Civilizations & 4 languages, all with specialists).

    We are given 5 periods a week for 30 weeks which is 150 lessons, but the pace of the lessons and the lack of skills by the pupils may be disastrous.

    Has anyone done anything similar? Got any advice? Any general thoughts?
  2. never_expect_anything

    never_expect_anything Occasional commenter

    OMG! Sounds horrific!

    I'm always slightly skeptical about schools pushing Y10s through GCSEs in one year, unless it's only the very few exceptional students. But I feel it's especially unfair on Y9s. So they basically have 'exams' for 5 years in a row from Y9 to Y13?!

    I'm in a fairly unique situation of sometimes having to push Y11s through GCSEs in one year, which is tough enough. Admittedly, our students are not necessarily very able and often do not have the foundation from KS3 to build on (which I'm guessing yours are and do).

    We don't have the same number of lessons as you do (I'm presuming that the situation for you is that they get extra time for these subjects in Y9, so that they can have more lessons for other subjects in Y10 & Y11). But I guess the number of 'guided learning hours' you're giving them is reasonable. Have they mastered a lot of the required syllabus content in their 2-year KS3? (For instance, I don't know many schools where most students are confident in using the present, perfect, imperfect, aller + infinitive & future tense by the end of Y8 - not to mention all the rest of the grammar and vocabulary for MFL GCSEs!)

    As I said, my situation is unique, so I can't compare in any real way to yours, but we have to push through core subjects too, so for the subjects you're referring to we can only allocate about 60-80 hours if pushing through in one year. Given the time restrictions, we limit History to short course - due to demands of controlled assessment - and do FCSE rather than GCSE in Languages - which is a heavy demand on controlled assessment, but allows for more limited topic/vocabulary content. You don't even have the option of a short course for the other subjects you mentioned... What will happen if you get half way through the year and realise that the content can't be covered in the remaining time?!

    Advice? None really! But I certainly wish you a lot of luck!
  3. Littlesaltee

    Littlesaltee New commenter

    Your right it does sound horrific. I'm a maths hod and have been chastised no end on here for the early entry approach on here ( not my choice but SLTS). Obviously early entry has now gone ( unless you want to risk taking the first grade they get) but I can understand totally why we had to do it. At one point I had three teachers in my department ( so as you can imagine we would have to move around the sets to get everyone through) at a school where students attendance was poor and sometimes we would not see students in year 10. I suppose what I'm trying to say is that in the present climate where league tables and soon progress 8 put huge amounts of pressure on staff and SLT sometimes schools are forced to make poor decisions. I imagine they are doing this to secure some results in preparation for progress 8 when it counts as a league table measure. Like I say, not practical or in the students best interests.... But probably a strategic move.
  4. muso2

    muso2 Occasional commenter Community helper

    My previous school did it - there are pros and cons.

    Pros - lots of time (5 x 150min lessons over 2 weeks), no competition from other subjects having after school revision and catch-up sessions (which has often been an issue in yr 10&11), with a keen group it gives them a year to be really 'on the boil' and engrossed in your subject. It's the only time I've ever had a 100% A*-C pass rate.

    Cons - with a less focused group with less performance skills (I teach music) it can mean lower results than if they'd taken the subject later. (Though if they haven't had any practice in yr9&10 it may not help anyway). Sometimes not all of them are mature enough to be taking real exams. For the dept, it can mean your best yr10&11s feel they have 'finished' your subject and don't get as involved in extra-curricular etc).

    If it's going to happen anyway, just look at my pros and not the cons. I was very skeptical at the time, but it can work.
  5. RFU85

    RFU85 New commenter

    We have this system at my school. They choose options in year 8 but only choose 2 per year so a year 9 will carry on with maths eng and science but start 1 year GCSEs in option subjects. I have a class with mixed year groups (i.e. year 9, 10 and 11) It works well behaviour wise and is fine for students who are bright and can work independently. I do feel that the ones who get a C in year 9 could perhaps have got a better grade in year 11. We have 10 lessons a fortnight and timing wise it is fine.

    Feel free to ask any questions

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