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Advice needed

Discussion in 'Religious Education' started by decisionstomake, Jun 6, 2011.

  1. I am looking for some advice as I have a difficult decision to make. I am a single teacher department and my workload at the moment is, quite frankly, too much and I know that something has to change. This has now been recognised by SLT and I have been offered some alternatives to think about.


    First thing to point out is that we are an independent school and as such do NOT have the legal requirement to teach RS throughout the school.


    Secondly, the current position is that I teach Years 7-9 only. In years 7-8 they do the KS3 curriculum, and the short course GCSE is done in Year 9. In all three years they get two periods a week (35 mins each).


    There is no option to recruit more staff so the teaching does all have to be done by me.


    My head is keen to introduce the A Level (Philosophy and Ethics) as he is a Philosophy specialist. He is convinced that the take-up would be there as prospective parents have enquired about it, as have existing parents and students.


    There are three options open to me.


    1. Keep things as they are. KS3 in two years. GCSE in one year. No A Level. The GCSE in Year 9 is stressful as I'm doing it in just over 1 hour a week, and as it is their first GCSE experience I am having to deal with a lot of basic exam skills as well as the syllabus. Having said that results are good (last year was 96% A*-C across the whole year group).


    2. Drop KS3 entirely and just offer RS as an option in Year 10 and 11, and then again at A Level.


    3. Drop the GCSE entirely and expand the KS3 curriculum into Year 9. This would also involve reducing the contact time to one 35 minute period per week. This is how my Head taught it when he was a classroom teacher. Take away exam pressure and make it a subject to explore ideas, beliefs, and build oracy skills. This would reduce my marking workload as homework could be cut, or only issued if I want them to do some research or reading. There would not be the pressure to teach them GCSE exam skills in Years 7 and 8 which I currently have to do. Finally this option would involve adding the A Level.


    Admittedly the final one is beginning to appeal to me, as I love the creative side of KS3 and would enjoy the intellectual stimulus of A Level. But I also need to think about my own future career prospects. Which would be most likely to limit me with future employers: not teaching A Level at my current school, or not teaching GCSE at my current school? SLT are also keen to consider which option would be more likely to attract new teachers, should I decide to leave at any point.


    So what do you think?
     
  2. I am looking for some advice as I have a difficult decision to make. I am a single teacher department and my workload at the moment is, quite frankly, too much and I know that something has to change. This has now been recognised by SLT and I have been offered some alternatives to think about.


    First thing to point out is that we are an independent school and as such do NOT have the legal requirement to teach RS throughout the school.


    Secondly, the current position is that I teach Years 7-9 only. In years 7-8 they do the KS3 curriculum, and the short course GCSE is done in Year 9. In all three years they get two periods a week (35 mins each).


    There is no option to recruit more staff so the teaching does all have to be done by me.


    My head is keen to introduce the A Level (Philosophy and Ethics) as he is a Philosophy specialist. He is convinced that the take-up would be there as prospective parents have enquired about it, as have existing parents and students.


    There are three options open to me.


    1. Keep things as they are. KS3 in two years. GCSE in one year. No A Level. The GCSE in Year 9 is stressful as I'm doing it in just over 1 hour a week, and as it is their first GCSE experience I am having to deal with a lot of basic exam skills as well as the syllabus. Having said that results are good (last year was 96% A*-C across the whole year group).


    2. Drop KS3 entirely and just offer RS as an option in Year 10 and 11, and then again at A Level.


    3. Drop the GCSE entirely and expand the KS3 curriculum into Year 9. This would also involve reducing the contact time to one 35 minute period per week. This is how my Head taught it when he was a classroom teacher. Take away exam pressure and make it a subject to explore ideas, beliefs, and build oracy skills. This would reduce my marking workload as homework could be cut, or only issued if I want them to do some research or reading. There would not be the pressure to teach them GCSE exam skills in Years 7 and 8 which I currently have to do. Finally this option would involve adding the A Level.


    Admittedly the final one is beginning to appeal to me, as I love the creative side of KS3 and would enjoy the intellectual stimulus of A Level. But I also need to think about my own future career prospects. Which would be most likely to limit me with future employers: not teaching A Level at my current school, or not teaching GCSE at my current school? SLT are also keen to consider which option would be more likely to attract new teachers, should I decide to leave at any point.


    So what do you think?
     
  3. I think that the third option seems best as it takes the pressure off the GCSE entries which would be considerable in preparing them for exam technique and so on. If the Head still wants GCSE offered he could possibly recruit at a later stage to do this or you could offer GCSE as an additional class after-school or in lunchtime if you wished but maybe for a limited number of students. This would keep you in touch with GCSE but relieve the pressure of getting so many through the exam. I wouldn't offer this until you have set up the whole A Level course though.
    Good luck with your decision.
     
  4. Totally confused here - if you do option 3 would you be doing A level without them doing GCSE first?
    Common sense would dictate just do a normal KS3 and forget rushed GCSE and to be honest I wouldn't have been happy with my son doing some of the topics in the depth we do when he was in year 9 - I don't object in principle to doing it in 9 and 10 though.
    However, if you drop the GCSE I think you are professionally backing yourself into a corner.
    Don't forget GCSE marking is more in depth than KS3 so you need to bear that in mind when making any decisions too. I'm not sure what numbers you are talking here though.

    I also think that KS3 is where they build up the skills, interest and enthusiasm for the stuff at KS4 and there is an inherent risk that goes with ditching it - what does it say about the worth of your subject?

    Hmmmm tricky one I don't envy you at all - good luck with your decision making - think I would be looking elsewhere if it was me personally and let them sort their own mess out!
     
  5. Thanks for the advice guys. I've done a LOT of thinking this week.

    Yes, it would mean doing the A Level without the GCSE. I currently run a lunchtime Philosophy Club which is attended by some students from Years 10 and 11 so hopefully I can work on keeping them interested. I did the A level without doing the GCSE, and I have known schools where there are several students each year who didn't do the GCSE. However we also have a lot of girls come into the school for Year 12 who come from a local Catholic school that only goes up to 16. The Head gets lots of enquiries from parents asking if we offer RS at A level.

    I will definitely plan the KS3 curriculum to stretch them and will include Philosophy.

    Good point about the History and English results at GCSE - thanks for that!
     
  6. Leviosa - part of the issue is that I currently put 100 students through the GCSE 2 years early in what is their first experience of GCSEs. I have just one hour a week to teach them the syllabus and how to deal with mark schemes and other such exam skills which all of the other subject teachers then benefit from in Year 10! SLT admit that the stress of this is huge.

    I know that ditching the GCSE doesn't reflect well on the worth of the subject. But there are only so many periods in a week and when there are no other staff then compromises have to be made!
     
  7. Is the GCSE short course or long course?
    I, too, have the whole of KS3 and yr 9 early entry SC GCSE and decided to introduce A level P and E this year (no experience and no resources!!). I am in total sympathy. It's a horrendous planning marking and report load.But...Ks3 is such a chance to enthuse and inspire and GCSE really is a necessary building block to As/A level. Thoughts:
    SC on an hour a week is manageable (just..it's still below the recommended teaching hours required).
    If they are having external and internal AS enquires then why is there no possibility of another teacher to support the curriculum?
    Boards can help the delivery. A clear, helpful exam board can help students to master the exam skills quickly..especially at Independent level.
    Good luck
     
  8. jerseyperson

    jerseyperson New commenter

    I beg to differ with surf 41; I don't think there is very much at all at GCSE that builds skills for AS. Increasingly, I'm thinking the opposite. I feel like I have to unteach them all the habits they picked up at GCSE to properly prepare them for A Level.
    At the school I've just moved from students didn't have the option of GCSE at all, they either took the AS in Yr 10 & 11 or not at all. I found that teachin AS skills was easy even with students so young. I didn't teach GCSE for 4 academic years and it hasn't presented me with any problems changing job. I just showed at intreview that I'd kept updated with the changes and had a previous good track record at GCSE; that was enough.
    Why stress out teaching a short course in Yr 9, when you could teach inspiring, creative RE throughout the last year of key stage 3? I think the trick is to make sure they are writing evaluative, discursive work at a younger age.

     
  9. It's interesting to hear what you say and I really understand the habits comment. I guess it's horses for courses, but I suppose we do teach quite advanced skills at GCSE to a large proportion being a grammar. At full course level we are lucky enough to have time, so we can go off piste a bit with opinion, discussion and diverse angles! I've found that this then helps a lot with developing the critical thinking skills and independent research needed at AS. However I totally agree with the evaluative skills at a younger age comment.
     

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