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Is online learning the answer to help the forgotten third?

Discussion in 'Education news' started by TES_Rosaline, Aug 19, 2019.

  1. TES_Rosaline

    TES_Rosaline Administrator Staff Member

    Schools are looking at various ways to prevent lower ability students from being left behind in terms of gaining qualifications because of the reformed and more rigorous exams. With GCSE results released this week, many critics believe that aspiration is stifled for the “forgotten third” - who fail to secure at least a grade 4 in English and maths.

    ‘Tes has learned that since May more than 500 secondaries have signed up to a new "Build Up" programme designed to boost low-attaining pupils' character, and performance in English, maths and science, using online learning.

    PiXL, the partnership of nearly 3,000 schools that developed the programme, says it is used by heads who don't want to end up excluding or off-rolling such pupils.

    The Association of School and College Leaders is concerned that "something has gone wrong with the content of the GCSE".’


    What do you think? Will approaches such as online learning help to raise the aspiration and achievements of lower attaining pupils in an exam-focused education system, which is targeted at academic students? What do you think needs to be done to help the “forgotten third” in education to help them secure more qualifications?
  2. SomethingWicked

    SomethingWicked Occasional commenter

    "designed to boost low-attaining pupils' character", interesting choice of words* - here I was thinking the grit fad was on the way out...

    Anyway, this project is either:

    -better than a traditional teacher, in which case why only offer it to the bottom third?
    -worse than a traditional teacher, in which case why offer it to the bottom third?
    -in addition to a traditional teacher, in which case you can bet the bottom third will hardly use it (for many, lack of extra-curricular work is what puts them in the bottom third in the first place)

    However you slice it, all I see is more wasted money on unnecessary resources.

    *I wonder if the original is from Scandinavia as 'karakterer' is Nor/Swe/Dan for "marks", a minor translation error perhaps?
    colpee and phlogiston like this.
  3. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    Why are they called "forgotten"? They're not in the mainstream school I know, in fact they probably absorb more pastoral time than the "remembered two thirds".
    I suggest a thought experiment. If by some miracle, every child attained 4+ in this summer's GCSE exams, would we hear compliments or cries of "standards have fallen"?
    The children who do not achieve grade 4 have a variety of reasons why they have not done this. I work hard with the ones I see. I don't want to shouted at because the steps they need to make are too large. I want a curriculum that enables them to feel success in what they can do. They already labour under the burden of "not bright enough for GCSE " and if you think they don't know this, you've probably never tried to help them.
  4. Sisyphus_rolls_again

    Sisyphus_rolls_again Established commenter

    Since the GCSE reforms and the change from criterion to norm referencing (I know it's not really before we get diverted down statistical pedantry), is it possible for the 'forgotten 3rd' to pass?

    Surely the lowest 31% must fail, regardless of their absolute performance?
  5. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    My main place of work works face to face, but we have a parallel unit that uses online (humans at the other end) programmes with kids who are so anxious that they won't even come out of their bedrooms. They seem to be reasonably successful. It is seen as a temporary measure before they get back to meeting real humans.
    Many of the struggling third need a lot of human encouragement to do any learning at all.
  6. tenpast7

    tenpast7 Occasional commenter

    I think that many pupils in the past, who were not good at studying academic subjects, went on and became successful in their workplaces after schooling.
    They may have responded better to less "molllycoddling and dragging over the gcse pass line", and that the workplace treats them in a straightforward manner.
    They also have skills that emerge and flourish in the real world.
    phlogiston likes this.
  7. moscowbore

    moscowbore Lead commenter

    Online learning, even with a teacher involved in the online learning, favours the motivated, disciplined students. Some students simply will not learn unless there is the physical presence of a teacher in the room.
    So, no, online learning is not the answer.
  8. colpee

    colpee Star commenter

    Of course not, but when there is government money to be spent, in they come ..

  9. applecrumblebumble

    applecrumblebumble Lead commenter

    I cannot imagine a group of students least likely to embrace e-learning. They will see it for what it is, we are not good enough to have a real teacher.
    One little experiment taking place will be the Fife school which immediately cited e-learning as a way of dealing with their learning issues at the start of the school term and no school to teach in. We will wait and see.
  10. moscowbore

    moscowbore Lead commenter

    I spent time in the Highlands of Scotland recently. E-learning was used successfully to offer Computing to students who would otherwise never have experienced Computing. The e-learning students achieved above average passes in Nat 4,5, Higher and Foundation Apprenticeships.
    However, they were very attentive and motivated students. Their best results were in the e-learning courses. However, there were students who could not apply the self-discipline and were eventually taken off the e-learning courses by their own head teachers as it was wasting everybodys' time.
  11. aypi

    aypi Senior commenter

    One of my students got a place at an American University on the strength of his running. He was an excellent dedicated student. When he got there he found all the materials were online. He did the first year but then he came home and worked in Tesco for a bit because it was so dull.
    Politician's pushing it? Why is that not a surprise? They'll be friends with Pearson and have some shares stashed away. It is like the Academies, only worse.
  12. aypi

    aypi Senior commenter

    Hey thanks for the heads up, I am going to use this technique with my classes this year, and get my best results ever.
    If they get one question wrong in the year i will throw them out.
    Cant wait until results day 2020.

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