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New GCSE English spec or legacy spec for 16-19 learners?

Discussion in 'Further Education' started by jcm77, Jun 12, 2016.


Delivering new GCSE English spec or legacy spec to 16-19 learners in 2016-17?

  1. New

  2. Legacy

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  1. jcm77

    jcm77 New commenter

    I'm working in an FE college, and decision is currently being made by management. So, I'm curious: is your FE institute delivering the new GCSE English specifications to 16-19 learners for 2016-17, or will you be delivering the legacy spec for 2016-17?
  2. saluki

    saluki Lead commenter

    Some are taking November re-takes. (Yes, I know we haven't had the results yet). Adults and some level 3 learners are taking the new spec. Students arriving from school will be taking legacy spec. They will not be able to cope with a whole new spec in one year. We are looking at ways of carrying forward grade C coursework marks, both from students who gained a C in college this year and those who gained a C at school but did not pass the exam.
    The above may not sound very optimistic. Let's say realistic. We are expecting over 1,000 students altogether. Not sure how it is all going to pan out.
  3. jcm77

    jcm77 New commenter

    Hoping we're allowed to do new spec with everyone! Whole English team wants to do new spec, but senior management still haven't made a decision - out of our hands now, so, in the meantime, I'm curious to see what other colleges are doing.

    Looking back at his year, I think the majority of the learners I had would have had a better shot at a C if they had the opportunity to do the new spec over a year. Don't know what it's like in other centres, but when they got to us the majority remembered next to nothing about what they did as part of the old/legacy/CA spec and there were significant gaps in subject knowledge and reading/writing skills, so the whole spec and CA thing was essentially new to them anyway.
  4. hellojello101

    hellojello101 New commenter

    New spec for us. I spent a long time weighing up the pros and cons of each approach and I think overall our learners will stand a better chance of making at least 1 level of progress with the new spec. There are no controlled assessments to worry about, so the full year is freed up to teach the skills & knowlege needed for the exam. It also gives you the opportunity to get ahead with the new spec by starting a year earlier than some other colleges. I also think it makes a big difference whether you've got just D grade learners doing it or E (and possibly F) grades too. Doing controlled assessments with learners with less than a C would be very demoralising when they end up with marks of 3/10 etc. I think these learners will respond better to the new spec where they could realistically make progress from an E to a 3/4.
    jcm77 likes this.
  5. jcm77

    jcm77 New commenter

    That's more our less my/our thinking as well. We've the added complication of having a lot of learners who got a D at iGCSE at school. Huge step from iGCSE to an intensive 8- to 9-month GCSE course with 4 CAs!

    Feel like they're not learning as much as they could, and CAs are restricting them. Factor in the fact that we have to push them through these 4 CAs, and there goes all of the time that could be better spent truly focusing on their individual targets and developing their skills. In addition, marking 450 CAs by April/May really eats in to time that could be better spent on lesson prep, etc. etc.
  6. saluki

    saluki Lead commenter

    We spent longer than usual on exam skills this year and the mock exams were still pretty awful. The whole cohort was of a much lower ability than in recent years. Although we had covered writing to describe and persuade in CAs it had completely left their heads by the time we were doing exam prep.
    We too had problems with students who had only completed iGCSE grade D. They were at a loss.
    We had major problems with the Extended Reading CA. The comprehension skills of our learners was very low - how will this transfer to the new spec? How on earth will they understand 19th century texts?
    I will be really glad to see the back of presentational features, which very few learners understood and were not really 'English.'
    AQA recommends that students should take about 4 mock exams during the year- once every half term, together with further work immediately prior to the final exams. From a marking point of view this could be just as bad as CAs.
    At the end of the day, we are trying to put right something that has not been achieved after 11 years in the education system.
    We were all geared for the new spec, until senior management considered pass rates etc. At the moment we are considerably above the FE average of 11%. We are doing our best to maintain our pass rates, but this may change.
  7. saluki

    saluki Lead commenter

    ooh-er. By the way, what is the pass mark? grade 4 or 5?
  8. jcm77

    jcm77 New commenter

    Think it’s the same in the majority of centres — CAs require different knowledge and skills, so difficult to properly embed them before having to move on to the next CA which is assessing a different set of skills. We spent more time this year trying to thread through the same reading/writing skills across each CA. Seemed to work better by the time we got to exam prep in comparison to last year.

    To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of the scheme / ‘teacher plan’ that AQA produced for FE (as ever, I’m a critic!). If we get to do the new spec, I imagine we’ll have some form of summative assessment at the end of each term assessing both reading and writing skills (rather than just reading as the guide suggests for the assessments at the end of the first two terms). Highly doubt we’d have a full mock at the end of the first term — I don’t see much merit in assessing on this scale until there’s been enough time to adequately develop skills and work on individual targets etc.

    Likewise will be glad to be rid of presentational features! Those of my learners who did Foundation Tier this year despised Q4.

    Pass rates also being taken into consideration by our senior management as they make the decision. CAs aren’t going to be our saviour for pass rates next year if they go with the legacy — one of the main reasons ours will be so low this year is because of the CAs. (Other factors include, but are not limited to, higher intake of iGCSE learners and some learners moving from Entry Level Functional Skills to GCSE due to changes in condition of funding.) We should just take the hit this year and deliver new spec from September. Hope they’ll make a decision this week…

    DfE say that a 5 is a ‘good pass’, and a 4 is the ‘bottom of a C’. As a result of this, I’ve seen some schools leaflets to parents saying that ‘4 is the new C’ and some saying ‘5 is the new required standard’. So, in short: I’m not 100% clear on it!
  9. Livs10

    Livs10 New commenter

    We had an edexcel training that said there would be a transition from 4 being the pass/required grade to it being 5 in a couple of years. Was quite vague about when that might be.
    In the meantime I am trying to put together a useable/realistic/effective one year scheme of work. We are a group of 25 teachers delivering to about 1000 students.
  10. hellojello101

    hellojello101 New commenter

    Out of interest did your college decide?! New or old?
  11. jcm77

    jcm77 New commenter

    College decided on going with neither the new nor the legacy and, instead, will be delivering iGCSE to 16-19 learners in the upcoming year...
  12. saluki

    saluki Lead commenter

    What were your results like? Ours were not brilliant but still above the national average. as usual, lots of students who have missed out by a couple of marks. On the whole, students got what they deserved. Some low ability students with excellent attendance who had worked hard missed out, which was sad.
    I thought iGCSE was no longer being recognized in the league tables. How does this affect the funding situation? Or will you swap to GCSE after 2017?
    We have discontinued FS2. All D students will do GCSE, as previously. E students will do FS1 and then progress straight to GCSE.
  13. saluki

    saluki Lead commenter

    p.s. As far as I am aware, all those who had previously achieved a D at iGCSE failed to gain a C at GCSE.
  14. jcm77

    jcm77 New commenter

    Results were, unsurprisingly, quite low. Among other things, attendance throughout the year was an issue.

    Quite a few learners were only a handful of UMS away from it - I hope they get it re-marked.

    Government did a bit of a turnaround with iGCSE quite late (I think it was in June), and they said it will recognise iGCSE, and will satisfy same funding as GCSE, but only until summer 2017. So, essentially, the team will plan and deliver iGCSE this year and then deliver the 'new' GCSE specs from September 2017. Either way, I won't be involved in it - changing to iGCSE is one of the reasons I've left!

    Not 100% certain, but I believe same applied with us (possibly with one or two exceptions).
  15. saluki

    saluki Lead commenter

    How is everyone approaching the new spec? Teaching skills before approaching the exam paper or concentrating on the exam paper and embedding skills as you go along.
    AQA advise 1/2 term per paper and then repeat. Given that most students have the attention span of a goldfish this seems quite a good idea.
  16. hhhh

    hhhh Lead commenter

    I'd have tried to balance both.
  17. saluki

    saluki Lead commenter

    So how is everyone getting along? Our adult and level 3 learners are coping with new spec. Some school leavers are doing the new spec and really struggling- expecting a very low pass rate. Those who did FS1 last year are totally out of their depth leading to behavioural problems.
    The school leavers who are doing the old spec are struggling too, the only ones who are doing o.k. are those who missed out by a couple of marks last June.

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