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Reverting to a 2 year GCSE

Discussion in 'Secondary' started by hoskins_tom, Jan 10, 2019.

  1. hoskins_tom

    hoskins_tom New commenter

    Hi all,

    My first post here. My school have decided to revert back to a two year GCSE and the management are insistent that year 9 should not be work from ks3 stretched out. Nor should it be repackaged GCSE content to help lighten the load of content to cover in year 10 or 11.

    Year 9 from September will therefore be taught a new 1 year curriculum designed to "inspire" our student to help them develop a "love for learning".

    While I am not totally against the idea, I do heavily resent that we have (last year) finsished teaching the new 3 year GCSE and have spent some time this year (and previous years) improving our resources/SOW for delivery over 3 year. Only for now to essentially have to rearrange it all and come up with clever ways to teach the GCSE but not teach the GCSE in Year 9.

    For the record, I am the head of Physics and strongly oppose the idea of glossing over topics that have been covered i year 7 and 8, only for them to be needed to go over once again to gcse depth in years 10 and 11.

    Our department's line manager has suggested we focus on the skills pupils need for their GCSEs by teaching content not covered by our exam board (AQA). Which sounds all well and good, but I pointed out that we currently have the approach of a 5 year GCSE and their is a focus on practical skills in all 5 years.

    The other problem is the timetabling will mean our teaching hours in years 10 and 11 will be approx 136 hrs compared to 170 currently over 3 years. So the year 9 course has to cover GCSE topics within its 50 hrs to make up the shortfall...

    Any Physics specialists here with any suggestions of how to fit the mandate presented to me?
    pepper5 likes this.
  2. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    Those instructions sound as if they've come from someone teaching something like English or history. I can see that it would make sense to say "don't start the GCSE set texts in year 9, don't spread out what you've been doing in year 7/8; pick some other novels/plays instead." Similarly with history - you could hone their analytical and historical skills on some period of history that isn't specified anywhere at the moment. But you're not going to be able to improve their understanding of the physics concepts covered in GCSE by going off and studying some topic which isn't in the syllabus.

    I'll bet the maths department will continue to teach the same thing - 2/3 year GCSE doesn't make a lot of difference when the main thing you're doing is building on what they did last year and moving towards the end goal. They're probably also hoping nobody notices that year 7 set 1 and year 10 set 5 are doing much the same thing.

    I wonder whether you should just decide on the topics you want to teach in each year group, but just make darn sure that year 9 don't do anything from any resource labelled either KS3 or GCSE. Would anyone actually realise? (Mind you, finding such resources might be difficult nowadays.)

    Maybe you can dress whatever topics you do in year 9 differently? So have a "big question" or a particular experiment as the theme for your unit, whose underlying learning objectives are secretly pretty much the ones you need for GCSE. I did a great OU introduction to health sciences course which took 7 themes which between them covered all sorts of areas of science - so one on alcohol covered lots of chemistry, for example. Physics was covered mainly in the one on visual impairment (light, as well as some biology) and one on breast cancer screening (xrays, etc, as well as some probability). It was a great course, and it avoided the labels you might expect to see on the different topics. So maybe you could find some topics that would lend themselves to covering a couple of GCSE topics on the pretext of learning about a particular application.
    phlogiston and strawbs like this.
  3. strawbs

    strawbs Established commenter

    Maths is an 11 year GCSE....
  4. alexfeakes

    alexfeakes New commenter

    Have the SLT provided any rationale for this change? It seems odd, given that pretty much every school in the country is doing the exact opposite, and that the amount of content in the science GCSEs has increased compared to the previous spec.

    You could focus on skills, and teach practical work to with the aim of using the AQA KS3 to KS4 'transition' tests at either end of year 9: https://www.aqa.org.uk/resources/science/ks3/assess/key-stage-3-science-transition-tests
  5. particlezoo

    particlezoo New commenter

    I'm a Physicist and quite frankly the idea sounds horrific. Especially if you've already got it planned out and working for 3 years. I'm guessing it has something to do with the "broad and balanced curriculum" idea from ofsted....

    If I was in your shoes I'd be looking at the following:
    1 - 5 year gcse sow and dress it up like it isnt gcse for y7-9
    2- revert to old ks3 sow from KS3 sats era (this link is an updated version from aqa https://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/science/ks3/ks3-science-syllabus). This contained a lot of content covered again in a similar level as GCSE but is packaged as KS3.
    3 - spend year 9 sorting out the practical skills and the hsw stuff. Do full writeups for practicals etc as this may save you some time during GCSE but without it being labelled as GCSE. You could finish the year with a science fair project
    phlogiston and blueskydreaming like this.
  6. ScienceGuy

    ScienceGuy Established commenter

    I would agree that focusing on practicals may be the way ahead - maybe you could find ways of working in the required practicals into Yr 9. We start GCSE midway through Yr 9 (to ensure we can finish Triple Science in the time allocation given to Triple) but still would do reflection, refraction, conduction, radiation and electricity / resistance in the first term and a half (all of which have a required practical linked to them.
  7. SundaeTrifle

    SundaeTrifle Occasional commenter

    I think you still have teach some of the GCSE in Y9 otherwise you’ll never get through. Just dress it up in some sort of enriching/inspiring/deepening sort of way.
  8. firstpoet

    firstpoet New commenter

    I’m retired after 40 years of teaching. No wonder you have all become deprofessionalised by inconsistent SLTs who don’t consult HODs and don’t have any long term educational vision except as examination technicians which is how the job ( not profession) has evolved. Good luck to you all.

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