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GSCE Science - non specialist HELP please!!!

Discussion in 'Science' started by kaitaz, Dec 27, 2011.

  1. kaitaz

    kaitaz New commenter

    I am Head of School in a SEBD Independent school. We have had a reshuffle of staff and our supply science teacher has left leaving me with a bit of a mess. The year 10/11 group has had to be combined to allow for expansion in the primary department. The year 11s have been following (loosely) the AQA entry level syllabus and have completed and entered three units. The year 10s have done even less. The pre-ofsted we had a couple of weeks ago suggested that the entry level was a waste of time as the points that it is worth are equal to the points gained from a level 4 Sats at KS2 and suggested I pushed them to work on GCSE accreditation.

    This is all well and good but I am qualified at KS2 and experienced to KS3, I have never taught at GCSE level and do not wish to teach science in a lab with unfamiliar chemicals etc. I have tentatively looked at the Edexcel specification and could possibly manage the biology sections. Would OCR or AQA have easier specs for me to follow. These kids are not the best students and have diverse learning needs.

    Please could someone advise me on what would be the best course of action. I am taking on the group when school returns.
  2. I always used to enter my low-ability pupils for both Entry Level and GCSE. It gave considerable flexibility and, by choosing the same exam board for both, there was a good overlap between the two. At this point in the cycle, I would keep going with what they have done. I should imagine that GCSE grade G or F should be within most intelligent adult's comprehension.
    Please remember, education is not about scoring points - it is about offering pupils the best experience for their needs and abilities. I always found EL could be stimulating, and for your pupils, I would imagine that would be important.
    I have also sent you a message.
  3. fiendishlyclever

    fiendishlyclever Occasional commenter

    I have to agree with the above. I teach science in a special school and my students either do Entry Level Science (Y11 WJEC, Y10 OCR) or BTEC Level 1 science. I have found BTEC preferable to GCSE as the hoops are administrative rather than hoops the pupils have to jump through. I have many students who work hard to scrape a pass at Entry level, others end up on this pathway because they are poor attenders or spend a lot of time out of class.
    You don't say what level these students were at the end of KS3 and what their needs are. It is worth also reading about the changes in the pipeline for GCSE which could influence your future choices. I assume you are familiar with coursework requirements etc - others on here will be more familiar with these than I am.
    It is hard to give advice without knowing your circumstances, but it depends whether you are looking for a decent point score at the end of KS4, or a qualification that suits the needs of your students and moves them on (and that they enjoy!).
  4. kaitaz

    kaitaz New commenter

    Personally I think enjoying the course is far more important than the points score but unfortunately during the pre-ofsted inspection we were slated for not pushing our students into achieving more. He reckons we should be expecting between 145 and 200 points for our year 11s.

    Our students have often been poor attenders or poor learners whose behaviour has negatively impacted on their education.
    Their KS3 levels are poor or non-existent so any work has to start relatively low level with high interest value. My worry about only offering class based practical activities is whether I can hold their attention.

    I have looked at both the AQA and EdExcel Entry level specifications. The AQA seems to have less choice than the EdExcel. Which one is preferable? I also know nothing about entering the completed work for moderation.

    Any help is gratefully received.
  5. Exam entries will need to be in soon (I'm retired so this no longer affefcts me personally). No matter how little your pupils have done, I'm guessing that there is some paperwork related to your current syllabus. I'd focus on completing the course to the best of their, and your, ability.
    At a push, I'd obtain copies of recent GCSE exams and push the pupils through them in an intense, boring few days - if total failure is the result, I'd ignore the Ofsted advice. If there looks to be a chance of success, build on it and enter them for the real thing.
    Good luck.

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