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A-level ICT teacher desperately seeking someone who doesn't do WJEC...

Discussion in 'Computing and ICT' started by ExperimentersRegress, Jan 21, 2011.

  1. Me - teacher in the A-level ICT department of an inner city sixth-form college, my students are from 50+ different schools and most have done vocational ICT not GCSE. We do WJEC and we are suffering.
    You - teacher in a similar A-level ICT department who does one of the other boards.
    I would love to discuss the pros and cons of your experience with a non-WJEC A-level course, with a view to chatting online, by phone or even in person....
    A thousand thanks in advance.

  2. Me - teacher in the A-level ICT department of an inner city sixth-form college, my students are from 50+ different schools and most have done vocational ICT not GCSE. We do WJEC and we are suffering.
    You - teacher in a similar A-level ICT department who does one of the other boards.
    I would love to discuss the pros and cons of your experience with a non-WJEC A-level course, with a view to chatting online, by phone or even in person....
    A thousand thanks in advance.

  3. kathley

    kathley New commenter

    Sorry, we do WJEC too as we are based in Wales but are looking at moving, if they perform badly on the January AS paper (nearly 10% of the paper based on one bullet point in the syllabus!), roll on 9/3/11. Will be watching your thread closely.[​IMG]

  4. Aah, the grass MUST be greener on the other side of the hill .... it isn't. You will find supports of every spec out there - and detractors. ICT seems to be a subject where the marking of papers is at best poor ... where questions are only loosely based on the specification ... where advice form the boards is directly contradicted in following years.
    Sad to say this, but despite the fact that my job relies on teaching ICT at A-Level, I advise students against doing it. One has to suspect that other teachers are doing the same, as numbers taking the subject fall each year.
    Where we are, we are now the only secondary to offer ICT at A-Level, and our numbers have fallen to 50% of what the Head says is now the minumum economic level. I foresee no Year 12 next year doing ICT at our school or any school in our district. Would you if you were an intelligent student? Look at the stats. Most boards have an average grade of E or fail for most papers now. Well below 10% get A's. Enough said. The pathetic excuses for exam boards in England and Wales have killed a subject students want to take. They recently had the chance to introduce innovative and forward thinking specifications, with clear mark schemes and honestly written examination questions. They chose not to take the opportunity.
  5. It might not be a conversation that you want, regress, in which case I apologise.
    But in what way and to what extent are you suffering and why do you think you are?
  6. johnbrown - no offence, but I think there have been many discussions of the frustrations of the WJEC ICT and I didn't particulary want to start one here. This was, I confess, quite a specific fishing expedition, to find someone who was willing to communicate one to one.
    FluffyKat - very sad to hear your situation. My college also does BTEC ICT and Computing, but still get a significant number who want to do ICT. I understand that the grass is always greener and know that any board has its strengths and weaknesses - I just want to discuss them with a fellow practitioner rather than rely on reading exam board sales pitches!
  7. I doubt there can be many teachers, hand on heart, who recommend with gusto A Level ICT anymore. It's a terrible course, waffle, unclear what it is aiming to teach and it is very clear that getting quality markers to interpret waffley questions has been and always will be a big problem. It is poorly thought of by universities and is really an A Level of last resort, for the kids who have to stay on in the Sixth Form but aren't bright enough to do a proper subject, like Media Studies or Psychology and for the vast majority of teachers who are unable anything else! Go on. Admit it. It's for muppets.

  8. djphillips1408

    djphillips1408 New commenter

    I just can't agree with above, we do WJEC ICT A level (sorry no hope to OP) but we don't get the grades that nationally seem to happen, we get pretty much what ALIS stats would predict our kids and maybe about half a point higher.
    I am not the greatest fan of AS, and agree it's a bit vague, however I do like the A2 dbase builds and these do equip my students with pretty good dbase skills. Certainly most now choose to avoid the dbase question on the exam paper as they understand that in the main it is always wrong.
    As pointed out earlier I don't think there is a greener side to any KS5 course, they all have their anomilies but you learn over time to iron them out and limit the potential damage. Switching just means that you have to go through the learning process again.
    As for unis not taking ICT, I can't comment as most of our lot would not consider the top ten unis. Persnally i ahve alwasy assumed that most kids just get offered a standard "get these grades and you in" type scenario. I ahve yet to be convinced that the entrance officers at the vast majority of unis would ramp up grades or bring them down on the basis of the subject title, but I cofess to speakign from no position of authority. Just can't imagine they have the time to root through every application to do this.
  9. McDiploma - thankyou for your comments.
    Can I restate the aim of my original post? While I agree with, and have taken part in, many of the various threads about the dreadful state of A-level ICT, and the British education system as a whole, right now I am looking for help with an actual problem.
    I don't want to resign/retire, neither do my colleagues, so I am not going to my SMT and announcing there's no longer any point in offering my subject.
    My college has enough 'muppets' to warrant running an A-level in ICT. While I wait for the revolution to come and reform the whole system, I still have a constituency of students who want to study the subject and for whom it is a good choice. We also offer BTEC National Diploma and Computing A-level for others who do not fall into the 'muppet' category. However, I owe it to my 'muppets' to offer them good teaching and the best choice from the array of specifications available.
    If anyone out there is willing to chat with me about the pros and cons of OCR and AQA, please let me know, I would really value it. If anyone else would like to start another cathartic thread about the dreadful state of A-level ICT, please do and I will come and moan along with you.

  10. Currently teaching OCR GO61-64 ICT A Level.
    Positives: I am really enjoying the structured tasks and these are not hard to mark as once the markscheme is released, OCR specify exactly want they want.
    The structured tasks do make the students use a range of software packages and have both easy and hard questions which clearly show you which "muppets" have taken the time to do their homework.
    Negatives: The occassional question in the structured task that is near impossible.
    The fact that the students don't read the questions and so miss the marks in the exam!
    Overall: I am really enjoying teaching these units and although- as with every board there is theory that I do not believe in teaching and I think that the topics are too broad- I find the students are responsive and enjoy most of the course.
    Most of the course is on teach-ICT which is fabulous!
    You do however have to have a team who specialise and cover all the elements of the ICT course.
  11. I teach aqa ict admittedly in a grammar school. The course was rolled out without sufficient preparation as with a lot of the boards and we have struggled to supply the content. However, we have achieved excellent results. The students love concentrating on the gadgets and gizmos and new technology, that is the slant we use to enthuse and make them think about the inputs, outputs, processing, storage, etc. how these gadgets are designed and used now within society. We use blogs and wikis etc all the things they use and can relate to. We have used the nelson thornes online learning which is a good jump off point and the folens resources. Hope this is some help. All boards have their problems and yes they do need to do something. But just complaining wont help the situation. Use the technology that we all love to make a difference.
  12. s_a


    I have taught the AQA A level spec since 2000, including the new spec (last 2 years). Since redundancy I have a 1 year position where the college I'm at offer OCR.
    I really don't have a preference at present - the theory is pretty much the same but the real difference for me is the assessment. OCR is quite straightforward - 1 exam and 1 set of course work for each year. The AQA has a more complicated system of pre-release material requiring coursework to be completed which is not marked per se at AS. It is hard to motivate students at the best of times but if they know the work is not marked they see no point. It counts towards their theory paper and they cannot pass without it but students see it as worthless effort. That said once you know what the form is it is not difficult.
    Where I am struggling is the politics - OCT structured tasks have a requirement to use CSS, current (ancient) software that doesn't support it, me doing maternity cover not in a position to purchase software..still I have a job so shouldn't complain!

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