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Ofsted to penalise schools for 3 year GCSE courses

Discussion in 'Education news' started by Shedman, Jan 9, 2019.

  1. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter


    So despite the supposed academic 'freedoms' academies and free schools are supposed to enjoy. Ofsted seem set on imposing their own ideas on the structure of students' 11 to 16 school experience. It's Ofsted's job to inspect, not to dictate what schools do.

    I used to teach DT and there was no way I could squeeze the amount of content in the new 9-1 GCSE course into just 2 years. OK I could have done but it would have been a gradgrind, soul destroying experience with little time for any practical work which is what the subject should be about.

    Ofsted, you've overstepped the mark.
    tterb, sebedina, agathamorse and 3 others like this.
  2. CheeseMongler

    CheeseMongler Lead commenter

    How long have the new 9-1 courses been running? Ofsted have only just noticed that schools cannot fit the content into 2 years?!
    I don't think they're overstepping the mark; it's terrible how schools have been forced to spend so much time teaching KS4 to cover ludicrous content at the expense of the KS3 curriculum. Ofsted should be ensuring that students have the opportunity to study a range of subjects but it's far too late to pick this up now; there aren't the teachers left to offer that range anymore.
    enyliram, Mrsmumbles, tterb and 3 others like this.
  3. gainly

    gainly Star commenter

    I don't think starting GCSE in year 9 has anything to do with the new 9-1 GCSE. I tutor students from many different schools. Generally they started doing GCSE in year 9 as soon as the KS3 SATs exams were abolished. When there were modular GCSE's they would often sit module exams in year 9 and then repeat regularly for the next 2 years.
    josepea, drek, ridleyrumpus and 2 others like this.
  4. gigaswitch1

    gigaswitch1 Occasional commenter

    My new school seem to manage with 2 Year KS4. From my experience of teaching a 3 Year KS4, by the time you get to Year 11 you have to recover all of the topics you taught at Year 9.
  5. moscowbore

    moscowbore Star commenter

    I knew many english secondary schools who described KS4 as years 9-11. Wringing exam passes out of year 9 students was simply league table motivated.
    In my opinion, year 9 should not contain exams which lead to qualifications.
    agathamorse and blueskydreaming like this.
  6. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    It started when the league tables started. It’s an easy PiXL win. Spend more time than your competitors teaching the same content. Gove's curriculum grab (fattening the GCSEs to stop teachers choosing what to teach) simply accentuated this.
    I’m in favour of 2 year GCSEs because we will then lobby for smaller GCSEs with more random assessments. That would then make the focus be on curriculum rather than assessment types. In English, from year 7 to 11 to are all practicing writing in response to a picture because that question features in the exam in Year 11.
  7. PeterQuint

    PeterQuint Lead commenter

    The great unknown here comes from Ofsted’s response.

    They say they won’t penalise schools for a 3 year KS4 UNLESS it restricts the curriculum at KS3.

    What does that mean? Most schools going for a 3 year KS4 will change nothing about the structure of years 7 and 8. Doesn’t losing an entire year of the non-core subjects you don’t opt for restrict the curriculum?
  8. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    A GCSE is 120 GLH according to the ofqual regs. If you allocate more than 120 hours on a single GCSE then you will get creamed by ofsted. If you spend those 120 our over 3 years and retain the pupil's overall curriculum experience you’ll get away with it.
    alexmurraybrown and agathamorse like this.
  9. lizziescat

    lizziescat Star commenter

    I started O levels in my 3rd year (year 9) at grammar school in 1969
    (I can only guess that it must have been for educational reasons* of some sort)

    *Anyone remember them?;)
    agathamorse likes this.
  10. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    I did O levels in a grammar school and for sure we did not cover any exam content like we do today and especially not in Year 9. You did curriculum content but there was no exam prep at all. You knew your stuff or you didn’t.
    agathamorse and monicabilongame like this.
  11. gainly

    gainly Star commenter

    But how do you count which hours are for GCSE? Especially in maths, everything they've done even in primary school is potentially relevant to GCSE. For example they won't do well on the non-calculator paper if they don't know their times tables.
    drek likes this.
  12. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    Ofsted will know.
  13. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    If you don't start GCSE in Year 9 these days - what do you do instead ?
  14. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    I'm not sure who decided to abolish KS3 Sats, I would have kept them. They gave a bit of focus to a year which often drifted before then and since.
    cassandramark2 and drek like this.
  15. PeterQuint

    PeterQuint Lead commenter


    I teach some stuff in KS3 which we also do (in more depth) at GCSE.

    How could they know if a lesson is or isn’t to prepare for GCSE?

    But I’ll ask the question again, isn’t starting GCSEs in Year 9 limiting the curriculum in and of itself, simply because a young person who has been forced to choose 3 subjects from a list of non-core subjects involved being forced to drop the ones they don’t/can’t choose?

    If they can’t do music because they’ve used up theirs options, isn’t that limiting by default?
    chelsea2 and blueskydreaming like this.
  16. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    120 hours being taught as a class the GCSE content. Nothing more.
  17. bessiesmith

    bessiesmith Occasional commenter

    I think Ofsted will allow rather more than this. We still have a 2-year KS4. 5 hours / fortnight on option subjects. With 20 fortnights a year in Year 10 + 16 fortnights in Year 11 (no term 6) this gives a total of 180 hours. This is very 'normal', old-fashioned timetabling and I don't think anyone would suggest we were over-egging the exam subjects. I would argue it would be extremely difficult to cover the course in any less time.
    agathamorse likes this.
  18. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    Ofqual have said you can teach a single GCSE in 120 GLH. The specification is written to this mandate and then assessed by ofqual to check it meets the requirement. Ofsted cannot overrule ofqual. It’s a busted flush.
    agathamorse likes this.
  19. bessiesmith

    bessiesmith Occasional commenter

    That may be the case but the fact is that we have been running this timetable (which was nearly identical to the KS4 timetables of most secondary schools before the 3-year KS4 became common) for nearly 2 decades and Ofsted have never commented on it. Do you know of any secondary schools which teach KS4 in less than 2 years?
    agathamorse likes this.
  20. gainly

    gainly Star commenter

    They were scrapped in 2008 by Ed Balls (remember him?). It was because they awarded the contract for marking the exams to an American company who had never previously marked an exam. The results were weeks late and many thousands of papers were lost and never marked. To avoid further embarrassment they decided to simply scrap the exams the following year. https://www.theguardian.com/education/2008/oct/14/sats-scrapped

    It was bit like awarding a contract for operating ferries to a company which had never operated a ferry. I'm sure no government would do something so stupid.
    hammie, josepea, chelsea2 and 3 others like this.

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