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How would you react to teaching hours being cut for your A-level?

Discussion in 'Science' started by ferrisbueller, Jun 10, 2011.

  1. ferrisbueller

    ferrisbueller New commenter

    This is a hot debate at my school at the moment.
    I'm guessing you are teaching an A-level in Bio,Chem or Phys?
    You cannot afford to lose time in teaching these tough, demanding subjects, even if the number of students is smaller.
    At my school A level science classes are between 20-25. In some other subjects they only have 5 (!!). Yet, I am expected to do similar assessments, tests, mock exams and reports, with no difference in time allocation or allowance of the larger class size.
    A small class will be beneficial in terms of time spent marking, but reducing contact time will only mean the time saved marking will be replaced with you supervising lunch and after school sessions to play catch up because there was too little time to ge through the syllabus.
    BTW, how many hours do you already have? I have 9 hours per fortnight ( 5:4 - 2 teachers)

  2. This happened to me a couple of years ago when SLT decided a class size less than 7 would only get 4 hrs for A2 instead of 5 a week. I ended up adding an extra lesson because I couldn't teach it in less time than I had already. Cue annoyed students feeling undervalued, some students missing 'optional' sessions and results not being as good as they could be. SLT don't care though, it's all about financial viability, hence no sciences in the 6th form anymore at all!
  3. Roboteer

    Roboteer New commenter

    We currently have 9 per fortnight - being reduced to 7.
    We are a smaller school anyway, but I'm not sure SLT really get that if you need to do practicals it still takes X amount of time whether one does it or 20 do it.
    Putting in additional hours will not be an option as I am on 36/40 periods a fortnight already (I only work 4 days a week) and we are no longer paid for any extra revison classes in holidays so I won't be doing them either.
    My fear is the course may end up being dropped because the school has cut staff so much we no longer actually have enough people to teach everything.
  4. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    I was furious, but no going back given whole timetable written. We've had all sorts of ups and downs and swap rounds over the years. Optional lessons work for a while and drain you. The students most in need of support don't turn up.
    In the end you prune out the enriching bits and focus on the essentials and the "get you through the exam" bits..
    With what I hear about further funding cuts to school sixth forms, we have the thinn end of the wedge.
  5. ....and there I was thinking we were the only school to have gone through this.
    This year our Y12 had to complete their syllabus in 80% of the time that was given to previous years. We have ended up puting on extra classes after school. In addition, the longest lesson was reduced from 75 mins to 60 mins which has reduced the benefits pupils get from some practical work &, instead of being able to fit controlled assessments into a lesson, we now have to annoy other departments by taking time out of their leesons in order to schedule the pupils assessments.
    The changes were introduced to save money (it is true - they have saved money - fewer teaching staff are needed now, although for some reason, more admin staff have been recruited - the changes must take a lot of administering). The SMT went through the motions of 'listening to concerns' and 'taking account of syllabus requirements' but in the end, all the changes that had been proposed were implemented regardless of isues raised from the chalkface.
    Not just A level - we have had contact time cut throughout the school. Pupils now get periods of ''independent learning' where they are meant to 'learn to learn' & are supervised by a librarian or cover staff (or a spare chmistry teacher who has lost contact time).
    Unfortunately it may take a few years for the poorer results to filter through the league tables - but I expect by then the exams will have become easier & the grade boundaries lower so maybe no-one, apart from the universities, will notice. ...and they will start intoducing more 'pre-tests' to ensure they get what they need.
  6. rooney1

    rooney1 Occasional commenter

    When my son was doing A levels last year the teaching hours for physics were cut by 1 hour a week and for music by 2.
    Most of the parents of the involved pupils wrote and complained. We received a very courteous letter back from the headteacher and the physics 'lost' hour was reinstated and music got 1 hour back. Perhaps you could mobilize the parents.
  7. Sorry... to answer the OP's question now:
    In the first instance, review your syllabus & SOW. Some syllabuses specifically state a number of recommended hours of contact time. Check how this fits with the new timetable.
    Secondly look at internal exams, tests, mocks etc & see if you can rationalise or be more efficient in the way you use contact time here.
    Thirdly look at practical hours & times. You may be able to get guaranteed or 'ring fenced' practical / lab time with pupils.
    Finally, be rational and write a well argued (un emotional) letter to the managment explaining the probblems (and any solutions) you forsee with the new timetable. If there are problems with no sultions - state those too.
  8. Ssn77

    Ssn77 New commenter

    I cannot understand this love of independent study amongst senior management (and people delivering training). I am repeatedly told that if I put resources on a VLE, students will diligently study them, then turn up to lessons ready to tackle the challenging situations I then provide.

    I struggle to get most of my students to complete homework to a satisfactory level. If they are told to work on questions in class, very little gets done unless I stand over them. The chances of an hour a week independent study being completed by many of the students is negligible + as has been pointed out, the sciences are tough subjects that require explanation to all but the brightest. We have had small cuts to contact time, but there has been no attempt to hide the fact that it is entirely down to funding cuts.

    I do run extra classes which are entirely optional. Almost half the girls on the course have attended at various times throughout the year, whilst about 10% of boys have shown up. That could be a line of argument, that independent study will further disadvantage boys who are already underperforming.
  9. Orion

    Orion New commenter

    You cannot do it. I found with Physics that even with 2 students for A2 I still needed a lot of time if I was to teach to A* level. If you are only teaching to C level you can skip things out but not to get higher grades.

    Just go through topics and try and argue the case like that.

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