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NQT - how to prepare for Y10 and Y11

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by irym, Aug 15, 2015.

  1. Hi everyone,

    I am an MFL NQT and I am starting my job in September. I now have my timetable and am a bit worried as I have 3 Y11 classes and 2 Y10 classes. During my PGCE, I never taught KS4 classes, even if I was observing and assisting experienced teachers. I have already prepared lessons for my KS3 as I have the scheme of work, but I have no clue as to what to do with my KS4 classes (I do know the lessons are based on revision and past papers but I still don't have a clear idea of what is expected). My Head of Department is on maternity leave and I am feeling a bit lost. I understand the responsibilities I have now, which is why any advice/guidance would be greatly appreciated.

    Many thanks
  2. -myrtille-

    -myrtille- Occasional commenter


    I'm struggling to be concise so sorry for the massive long post. I will try to organise it as much as possible!

    What you need to focus on will depend a lot on how your school organises the course (and at least you have a SoW!). I would imagine that initially you will mostly be doing topics for controlled assessment - we do that from January of Y10 to February of Y11 with a few breaks.

    Initial planning:

    I don't think you can usefully do much planning until you know your groups. I initially prepared for a "top set" who turned out to be completely mixed ability with some pupils who might as well have not studied French in KS3. 3 of my department were new at the same time and we completely overestimated what our pupils would be capable of and lost quite a few in the process.

    I'd suggest planning one or two standalone lessons for the first week back to help you assess their prior knowledge. Maybe some kind of a grammar quiz and a bit of reading comprehension?

    Another thing you could teach as a standalone which may be useful if you have an able group is conjugation using a verb table. They get a dictionary in the controlled assessments so if they can use a verb table it's really helpful. I have some resources here. https://www.tes.co.uk/teaching-resource/series-of-lessons-tenses-conjugation-verb-table-6448723

    Controlled assessments:

    Teaching for controlled assessments is a weird process that doesn't feel much like teaching, to be honest (but we've only got 2 more years and then it's over, yay!).

    It's fine if you've got a very able top set because you can basically teach the grammar and content and then they can apply it to write stuff. But if middle/low ability pupils are going to produce 200 words that makes sense they need quite a bit of support and set phrases.

    Generally, you teach the topic over 6 weeks or so, and in that time pupils may write paragraphs relevant to aspects of the topic which you can mark. Then, when you give them the assessment task, you are not allowed to give them any help, but they are allowed to use their exercise book and work out which of their existing written work is relevant. It's a complete farce even when you're playing by the rules as we do, and of course some schools do not.

    Here's an example of my resources for teaching a very mixed ability group (expecting A*-F on Thursday...). As you can see, I did spoon-feed them a lot to get them to produce paragraphs that made sense. I'm not proud of the way I've had to teach for controlled assessment but this is how everyone I know does it.

    Exam preparation:

    Once we got the CAs out of the way, I started to enjoy teaching Y11 much more. It kind of goes back to more KS3 style lessons with a focus on vocab and comprehension, other than that obviously you do a lot of exam practice. It was a race to cover anything we hadn't done as part of the controlled assessment topics, which for us was things like train travel, directions, shopping for clothes, the environment, mobile phones and the internet, chores and pocket money...

    Using online vocab-learning resources like Memrise and testing using quizzes like Kahoot and Socrative in lessons worked well to engage my lazy all-boys group (particularly having a large chocolate bar as a prize for the pupil with the highest score on Memrise by the date of their last lesson before the exam).

    Every week I did 2 lessons on the content and 1 lesson on exam skills, and I've put my exam skills lessons (using Edexcel past papers) together here.https:/www.tes.co.uk/teaching-resource/edexcel-french-gcse--listening-practice-11049349%20[/b]] https://www.tes.co.uk/teaching-resource/edexcel-french-gcse--listening-practice-11049349

    I hope some of this helps, but it will depend a lot on what your groups are like.

  3. Thank you very much for this thorough answer, very helpful.

    I wanted to get organised and prepare resources before school starts, but I obviously need to know which sets I am going to have and the pupils' level.
  4. palmtree100

    palmtree100 Lead commenter

    This is so useful, myrtille, thank you for your time and effort in posting this. I too have only ever taught KS3 (and now a bit of KS2) and am not familiar with all the CA and GCSE preparation. It really is just teaching to the test, isn't it?
  5. curlyk

    curlyk New commenter

    If it becomes `just teaching to the test!, you will get some very unhappy pupils, very little take up of A level languages from your classes and a very miserable career. The CAs are just one element of the course.As Myrtille says ,get the CAs over with, as soon as humanly possible and then get on with inspiring and educating your pupils.CAs have been one major element in the killing off of creative language teaching over the past few years.
  6. Malaguena

    Malaguena New commenter

    I would be extremely worried about joining a school which thinks that giving 5 Key Stage 4 classes to an inexperienced teacher is appropriate, especially one who by their own admission didn't really even teach it much on placement. The admin for the CAs is going to be madness for you - your year 11s have to do 4 bits by the end of the year so even assuming small classes of say 15 kids, that is 180 bits of CA to sort out!! (15 x 3 x 4). Even assuming they have done some in year 10 that might be ok ( it normally isn't ) you have put it all together for May. You are also going to judged against their results - 3 classes of GCSE is a lot of responsibility for you - and your progression on the pay scale will be dependent on this. I would ask who is going to be supporting you and how, agree the targets very carefully for your PM so they are ACHIEVABLE and don't be afraid to shout up if it all gets a bit much. As HoD I have been wary of giving a new teacher any KS4 and have supported them very closely with the 1 class I give them. I wouldn't have dreamt of giving any newbie 5 KS4 classes, sorry.
  7. palmtree100

    palmtree100 Lead commenter

    I can see why, curlyk. The very fact that we "get the assessment out of the way" before educating them just doesn't add up! You would have thought that they learn the language first and then get assessed!
  8. curlyk

    curlyk New commenter

    I used to get 4 written assessments completed in Year 10 , and into early year 11 ,( one for practice ),oral work done at the same time. The CAs are done as the end product of a unit of work , they HAVE been taught something before they complete the task set !!!!.You need two terms in Year 11 ( One and a half in real teaching time ) to get the reading and listening practice done , have some mock exams and do catch ups with those who managed to miss an assessment and do revision work, pre sitting their exams . You are, hopefully ,teaching pupils in GCSE classes , who by the time they get to the end of year 9, have been taught all the basics of grammar , have a wide vocabulary and have covered most of the topic areas examined in GCSE. They should have been taught and have learned key language areas by the time they start an exam course. Years 10 and 11 are for improving their 4 language skills and doing the assessments when appropriate for them to do so. Some schools spend so much time on doing CAs and re doing assessments endlessly, very little teaching as such takes place.
  9. Malaguena

    Malaguena New commenter

    I love the idea curlyK that by the end of year 9 you inherit students that have "been taught the basics of grammar, have a wide vocabulary and have covered all the topics they need for GCSE" - not with KS3 provision cut to the bone (4 lessons per fortnight for 2 languages) I haven't. And yes, CA is just one part of the course but it makes up 60% of their final grade ie what they get in their CA will probably be what they end up with. And when you are constantly being monitored for students meeting their target grades by SLT and 60% of the grade is something you can do something about then yes, you spend far too much time on it than you should.
  10. -myrtille-

    -myrtille- Occasional commenter

    I think how painful preparing CAs is depends a lot on how well prepared your pupils are from KS3.

    When my colleagues and I started at our school 2 years ago, we assumed pupils would have a certain level of prior knowledge, but the school in general and the department in particular was just getting out of a rough patch with high staff turnover and poor behaviour. Even nice kids in my top set freely admitted they'd hardly learnt anything in Y8 and 9 and this really showed. So having a SoW requiring a short mock CA in October and the first real CA in the Spring was a nightmare. I don't think anyone can dispute that I've done the best I I could for those pupils, but I know there are going to be some disappointing results on Thursday.

    I'm feeling much more positive about next year's Y10 as I know they've had decent teaching since at least the start of Y8 when the department has been much stronger. They also started their KS4 course with me at the start of Y9 and have already done a CA so are familiar with how it works.

    I hope, for the OP's sake, that pupils in theirschool does have a decent foundation to build on. I would imagine that a school which has a large number of KS4 classes (if they're giving 5 to an NQT I'm guessing they have a lot) does do their best to prepare all pupils.

    Building on what Malaguena has said about monitoring and appraisal, I have a few suggestions as otherwise these comments could be a bit nerve-wracking for the OP.

    • Check what your pay progression next year will be based on. For me (and other NQTs I've talked to) there was no formal appraisal process in the first year and going from M1 to M2 was based on successfully meeting the Teacher Standards and passing the NQT year. If this is the case, you won't necessarily have to set some target based on your Y11s GCSE results.
    • If they do want a target of that nature I would strongly resist it being a number based on your Y11s. The GCSE is a 5-year process and you shouldn't be judged on how pupils have done when you've only taught them for 8.5 months of that time.
    • If you do have to set a target (perhaps for the following year, based on your Y10s), make sure it's realistic. Don't just pluck a number out of thin air - look at how your pupils are doing so far, if you've got 40% currently achieving A*-C and another 10% achieving high Ds and working hard with the potential to get a C, then 50% is a reasonable target. Higher than that is not, because you know from looking at your class that it's not going to happen.
    • Keep a record of absolutely everything you do to support pupils, to show that if they do badly it's because either they weren't capable or they didn't try hard enough, not because you didn't do your best for them. Record contact with parents, extra sessions you run (even if it's just a 5-minute lunchtime chat giving feedback on a piece of work), extra resources you provide to help them with CA prep...
    With anything else you're finding difficult, make sure you talk to your colleagues and ensure that you get the support you need. Don't try to do everything yourself.

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