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Set up to fail

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by GirlGremlin, Oct 8, 2019.

  1. GirlGremlin

    GirlGremlin Occasional commenter

    I'm noticing a vicious cycle that puts all of us down to fail at my school and others in the area, wanted to know if this is a problem all around the country?

    In the current climate with budgets stretched to the brim, our school are doing everything to make as many of the year 11 kids want to stay at sixth form as possible, even if they are completely ill suited for traditional A Levels. We have been told to sell them that they will have much more freedom, all classes are using sixth form branded power points to sell their subject offering at level 3 at the school, and we are being told to stress to Year 11 how much more lile college sixth form is, how much fun, and how different it is to the main school environment.

    Then, masses of ill suited pupils turn up to sit a levels. They are let onto whatever courses they want, despite often being 2 grades below the entry requirements. Class sizes swell and poor behaviour sets in. Students have been told they can have freedom, why should they put their phone in their bag in lessons? Why shouldn't they have headphones in whilst I am speaking?

    Then in September another welcome back to the school talking about how disappointing overall A Level results are.

    Surely they realise they can not have it all? If you let everyone in, including those who are not academically suited to studying the courses you have dumped them in, results will suffer. But will they tighten things up?

    I'm sad that the priority is no longer looking for what is right for each child, but keeping bums on seats so redundancies don't have to be made.
    matevans, tenpast7, bevdex and 9 others like this.
  2. lovejoy_antiques

    lovejoy_antiques Senior commenter

    I remember in my first post having a really ropey group of very low ability students studying for a 100% coursework gnvq. My brief was to "get them all through by hook or by crook". With a lot of after school effort most passed and got a qualification worth 4 GCSE's! And my reward for this was that with the equivalent of 4 GCSE's they were all plonked on my a level course the following year! Great!
  3. HolyMahogany

    HolyMahogany Senior commenter

    There will be one HT in your area who will go down the opposite route, they will stress the academic rigor in their school, they will set high standards of entry into their A level courses, they will invest in getting pupils into Oxbridge and Russel group universities, they will aim to recruit the brightest and best from the other schools and this will, of course make things worse in your schools.
    This is happening in my local area and other HT's seem to be sleepwalking. It is happening at my younger child's school, we did look into swapping schools but junior wanted to stay at current one, fortunately they only 2 have years to go, Mrs HM and I are keeping a close eye on how this is going.
    Also I can understand why some parents don't want to send their child to college, one of older child's friends went to college and had a, 'high' old time, telling all friends how much freedom they had and how little they did.
    phlogiston likes this.
  4. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    This was exactly one of the main reasons I decided to retire. We'd have the students who'd been a right pain from Y7, scraping pretty dismal GCSE grades and then being offered places in the sixth form purely for the money. Many of these characters were disruptive to the learning of others in their groups, they opted for subjects that were hopelessly inappropriate and beyond their ability and they consumed inordinate amounts of teacher and tutor time.

    Perhaps most dispiriting was the attitude of some of the students. They seemed to think that just because they had been granted admission to the sixth form that that, in some way, guaranteed them academic success and failed to realise that they needed to do some work.

    Many of these students left after Y12 or got mediocre grades, if any at the end of the course and so for all intents and purposes they had wasted one, maybe two years of their lives for nothing and the school had been complicit, if not encouraging them in this simply because of the financial benefits of having their bum occasionally on one of the school's seats.

    I came to the conclusion many years ago that schools were not acting in the best interests of students but in the interests of the schools' budget sheets and I'd had a gutful of being complicit in this shameful coercion and so I handed in my notice which partially salved my conscience.
  5. MrLW1

    MrLW1 New commenter

    Yes it's definitely setting people up to fail - both students and teachers.

    I have at points thought about applying for a post in a FE or sixth form college, but I wondered if they'd be places where this sort of thing is even more of an issue than in schools.
  6. precisely

    precisely New commenter

    Exact same scenario at my local senior school. Used to be OFSTED outstanding not so long ago.Got too big, became an academy. The sixth form started to take in many students not suited for A' levels. Students became disengaged and behaviour became an issue. Students were told they could e-mail in their own absences without parental consent. Attendance became shocking. Parents began to blame the teachers for their children's poor results because the school had a great history of A'level results. Pressure built on staff. Pupils kicked back. Drop out rate increased.Results were poor.

    The latest OFSTED report on a great school became public last week. INADEQUATE rating for 6th form. Big safeguarding issues on reporting absences. poor behaviour, disenaged pupils, etc,etc. They were slated in the strongest terms..I've not seen such fierce criticism on a report before. Senior managers were called arrogant and out of touch.

    Local catchment is in uproar. The issues raised are being immediately rectified and the Head,who took his eye off the education, is doing some serious back pedalling on his 'business' model.

    Maybe there is hope if OFSTED are picking this up,
    ms honey and JohnJCazorla like this.
  7. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Could we perhaps add that schools are only "complicit" because they have to be.If there were not such a paucity of funding for education at the very highest level, such "strategies" would never have to come into play.
    I say this because the term "complicit" implies an intentional plan to disrupt the strongest achievement by the presence of low achievers, whereas the only real intention allowed to schools at the minute is keeping their heads above water.
    I'm not defending the school that finally made you want to leave, more, just imagining the HT reading your post and crying about it.
    JohnJCazorla likes this.
  8. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    I agree with you on this. No doubt my school was forced into this position because they needed the money to sustain the expenditure on staff, buildings and resources and so my ire is better directed more at the current, wretched system we have than at individual schools.
    GirlGremlin likes this.
  9. Lalex123

    Lalex123 Established commenter

    This happened to my cohort. It was the first year of teaching a levels and my teachers had no idea what they were doing. Many left due to stress and some a levels that were offered didn’t even run by the time students started.

    Suffice to say I’m very embarrassed of my a level results when I have to write them on application forms and when I applied to university, the only one that would take me knew the school personally and did not have pleasant things to say about the SLT.
    install likes this.
  10. install

    install Star commenter

    Its wrong. And its all about the money - not 'every student matters' - in education. Sixth formers are worth lots of money in schools.
    My concern is the grabbing of the money followed by the getting rid of some students towards the end of Yr12 on some Courses. They 'suddenly' are not good enough.

    Its when you also see new jobs or promotions in Sixth forms that you might start thinking: Where did that money come from?
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2019
  11. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    A good business plan involves planning for success. We've all seen the demise of shops selling overpriced stuff nobody wants.
    The business plan for sixth form only works if they all pass. That's why St Posh down the road thrives; they're an A level generating machine- and there is nothing wrong with that.
    You're caught with the kids they don't want doing inappropriate courses.
    I would say that the starting point is establishing the skill set a new year 12 needs before starting. This will be mostly GCSE grades, but could be other evidence you can easily verify. Then, once they've started , a test at the end of the first half term to establish ability and work ethic. This always worked well where I used to work.
    You do of course, need a alternative course if they fail the half term test. Funnily enough the A level chemistry dropouts mostly thrived on BTEC applied science .
  12. MissGeorgi

    MissGeorgi Occasional commenter

    Agreed. I had serious issues with an AS Geography pupil who had not even done GCSE Geography. I believe a senior staff member had allowed the pupil to do the course; this stinks of low standards.

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