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Pressure from above...changes to ICT

Discussion in 'Computing and ICT' started by nowaypedro, Jan 19, 2011.

  1. Hi, first time poster here, I could do with knowing what anyone else think of my situation before I go any further. I'm HoD of ICT in an "oustanding" school down south. A bit of background first, sorry about the length.
    10 years ago we happily taught GCSE ICT as an option subject and got excellent results - 100% A*-C and 30%+ A* rates were not uncommon. However, as the rewards of vocational qualifications increased, we moved this way, first with GNVQ alongside GCSE, then with the OCR Nationals alongside GCSE, then finally the Nationals on their own.
    We again got excellent results, with the number of A*/Distinctions rocketing. We piloted starting these qualifications in Year 9 to give students more time, only to be so successful with this that we had time taken off us (from 2 hours a week to now 1 1/2 hours a week). We were also moved out of the options and became a core subject with the year group split into 8 classes (of approx 18 students in each). For the first year of this, we got the best results we'd ever had and over half of all of the A*s in the whole school came from us.
    Back to today, everyone seems to think that Wolf review is going to signal a change in how vocational qualifications are "counted" and so the Head has asked me to look at a move back to GCSE for some students. Great I thought, I don't think we should have dropped it in the first place.
    However, she's not advocating a complete move from vocational to GCSE - oh no. She wants all students to complete the OCR National First Award (1 GCSE), then complete GCSE ICT afterwards. In 1 1/2 hours a week for 3 years. I did say that this was impossible, but she suggested starting it in Y8. I was pretty speechless at this point, but I did manage to say that this would destroy the KS3 levels and was a bad idea. Thinking about it more, I'm amazed that this was even mentioned, but she seems to think it'll be no problem at all.
    Oh, and to save money on staffing, we're also having class sizes increased next year from an average of 18 up to approx 27.
    I've no idea where to go on this one - they seem superbly proud of what we've achieved in the past, insistent that we carry on with the same results, yet also seem keen to destroy it.
    Am I over-reacting?
  2. catch222

    catch222 New commenter

    I know it won't help, but you're in a much better position that most teachers on this forum!

    Classes of 18? My bottom sets (in a low achieving school) are bigger than that, and my top sets are 32/33.

    That said, I think you need to say no to them - couldn't you get them to do a Functional Skills qualification in year 9 then the GCSE in year 10 and 11?
    That way you can get 1.5 GCSE's per pupil, which is a decent amount in that time frame.
    For what it's worth, my kids do OCR Nats and F.S. in 1 lesson a week in 3 years and are on track to get record results, although we certainly aren't at the 100% pass rate yet.

    Hope you get other supportive replies.
  3. magic surf bus

    magic surf bus Star commenter

    This sounds horribly familiar, ie Head goes storming down the vocational route and abandons GCSE to boost grade statistics, then gets caught with pants down when Mr Gove's reforms kick in. Knee jerk response is to patch up something involving starting a Level 2 course too early in KS3.

    I had exactly this situation a couple of years ago when the Diploma was all the rage. The nearest equivalent GCSE courses were dropped so kids could only do the Diploma. Then, when Diploma take up was minimal I ended up having to run a Level 2 Multimedia course starting in Y7 with mixed ability classes of 27-28 and only one hour a week of contact time for three years.

    I gave it my best shot for a year then handed in my resignation when it all started getting too silly. I'm old enough and experienced enough to recognise a no-win situation when I see one. I think you're being taken for a ride, whilst probably being told from above that it's a 'challenge'.
  4. Thanks for the reply - I know that we have small class sizes compared to most, but then we have much better results (particulary the Distinction / A* rate) than most as well - the head wants to keep the results but chop away at the class sizes.
    Anyway, I could accept the class size changes if that was all that was changing - I was overjoyed when the move to GCSE was discussed before Christmas, but the head seems to be trying to squeeze every ounce of results out of the department by insisting we do a vocational qualification before this, and with less time than any other option subject. I just think it might be the straw that breaks the camel's back.
  5. Not much help but I also think that you are getting a dose of the reality that many of the rest of us face.

    How about class sizes Of 27, average of 7-8 SEN and 80% EAL and 100% pass rate expected?

    **** innit?
  6. Cheers John Brown - I know the class size thing is probably reality for a lot of people.
    What do you think though about achieving the OCR National First Award (2 1/2 unit = 1 GCSE) AND a full ICT GCSE in 1 1/2 hours a week for 3 years?
  7. Don't fancy it at all.

    Problem is, ICT is just a side-issue and not a real subject to those at the top; we've benefitted from the 4 GCSE thing and will pay the price for it's demise.

    **** will happen.
  8. tonyuk

    tonyuk Occasional commenter

    Interesting - do the two qualifications sit seperately in terms of points (not sure of the answer on this one) as if they do not there is no point.
    Personally I would email the head or memo it so you have proof saying that though you agree with the rigour and can see the need due to white paper etc she must realise that increasing class size etc will hit the higher end results. Then if it does you are covered in terms of your PMR as you can say I told you so in memo dated etc!
    Always worth while covering your behind when results tumble.

  9. New government so tha bat has changed hands and the education ball gets
    hit in a different direction yet again. Nothing new there
    then........... we are in the Pit, THEY control the Pendulum.
    One point of view in all this BOGOF, et al, is that they can be accused of applying undue and inequitable/unfair pressure on staff and it becomes something the unions should be involved/support staff with. At a national level as well as in individual schools.
    Oh, and that is of course before the new catchall 5 A-C & EB % redline drops MANY more schools in to the failure category and converts them to Academies where you have no union rights or national pay and conditions, etc..........
    Do they expect maths to get students to do more than 1 GCSE with everyone (and I bet they get more lessons per week), or History, Geography, MFL, etc?
    Will they want to give the EB subjects more time to make sure they get as high a % through that hoop from now on? Probably. That's why you/we will get less.....
    I absolutely hate to say this (because I love teaching kids to learn, enjoy their learning and apply their learning) but Ive got less than 5 to go before I can retire and we've all seen the %game screwing thing up. Oh and because I've got a daughter at high school and she is like most kids these days - ultimately seen as a statistic for results day. If emigration was realistic for us we'd be gone somewhere saner for all our sakes.
    Ive been trying to think of an analogy to illustrate how I feel about our education 'system' (note: how does it match our definition of a system?) and off the top of my head I thought of a well used telephone cable - the ones that are coiled from the handset to the base unit. - a downward spiral, twisted and knotted with age and use (or abuse?), over stretched, distorted, cracking .... I'm sure there's more there too but i'm fed up and going to get my tea.
    Depressingly depressed, sorry for random rants........ probably a bit incoherent. In need of a drink!

  10. colwynexile

    colwynexile Occasional commenter

    hope it's been a large one gt, but it seems to be that age you're at. We've a colleague with service down to the fingers on one hand left, who has been the life and soul and kept many a person going in the dark times of special measures who now hates everything.
    and academies aren't ALL that bad. Maybe I'm one of the lucky ones to be in an academy who actually think of staff.
    However, new build architects should be shot, or at the very least have each individual bone in their bone broken..
    We're moving to new build in Sept, but the facilities we get are in ICT are a joke. No storage for coursework, no desks for kids to write at, a W shape config so I'm in one corner or the room and can't see what's happening at the other side, no teacher's desk just a lectern, kids placed either side of the IWB (right against the wall it is on). Numbers up from 20 to 35. All this despite have 100% pass right A*-C. BUT, we have a new Head who is absolutely doing all he can to give us all he can - even playing sneaky if he has to. Just freeking architects creating 'nice' buildings with no thought of us or kids. ARRGGGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!
    And to answer the OP - yes it is unreasonable. It is a simple choice Nats or GCSE from Year 9 or 10 on current timing, freeing up curriculum time for subjects that would be included in the Eng Bac like MFL or humanities as I can't see ICT being considered as a science. Core provision could be acceptable (what's the rest of the cohorts like?) but push for streaming to keep disruptive elements together without destroying everyother class with their presence (or is this just in our school?)
  11. colwynexile

    colwynexile Occasional commenter

    gg for gt
    and that's 'every single bone in their body broken' not bone in their bone. They upset me, but that's just a touch too far in terms of violence.

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