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Some advice for my daughter

Discussion in 'Secondary' started by brendonhatcher, Aug 27, 2020.

  1. brendonhatcher

    brendonhatcher New commenter

    Hi. I am an educator, but from outside the UK, and outside the school system.
    I could post this on Mumsnet, but I am looking for the direct input of educators such as yourselves.
    I hope that is OK.

    Very tight summary:
    Daughter finished half of the last year of primary school in South Africa (6.5 years in school).
    Came to the UK in Oct 2019
    Pushed straight into Year 9 here due to her age.
    Did a few months of Year 9, then lockdown, with no teaching / learning to speak of.

    So, she is going into GCSEs having effectively missed the WHOLE of KS3!!!!!
    She has never had to deal with a secondary school workload, has never written an essay, or a long form report, sat an exam, done any science at all, never used lab equipment etc.

    So, my question to you Science, Maths and English teachers.... If you had my daughter in your Year 10 class, what would you anticipate the challenges to be, and how would you support her (I know the constraints teachers are under, so be realistic)?

    The reason I ask is that I'm only guessing what the challenges might be, and I don't know what to expect of the school.
    I do know that the school referring me to BiteSize is not going to fix this!

    Thanks in advance for any responses, and I wish you all well going into the new school year.

  2. Morninglover

    Morninglover Star commenter

    I used to be a history teacher. In that subject I would say the lack of a KS3 doesn't matter PROVIDED a pupil has good reading, writing and comprehension skills, and a good work ethic. What was learned as historical knowledge in KS3 doesn't matter much in many GCSE history syllabuses, but he skills do.

    I would suggest you also ask this question on the Science, Maths and English subject forums (if you haven't already done so).

    Good luck for your daughter.
  3. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    I wasn't aware, until your post prompted me to Google it, that primary school continues until age 15 in SA, so I doubt her GCSE teachers will realise either - make sure you send them a quick email stating the above, at the start of term. Having no knowledge of the SA curriculum, I could have no expectations of your daughter's capabilities and knowledge, but she can be supported; the GCSEs are 2 year courses, so she has plenty of time to develop her skills.

    I'm a secondary English teacher. For the language and literature GCSEs, students have to answer each question in a certain way, according to what skills/knowledge is being assessed in that particular question, so it's a new way of doing things for all students, not just your daughter (although of course the other students will have done similar things before, and already developed the required skills, whereas your daughter's previous experience is unknown).

    For the first part of the English GCSEs, the focus is usually on reading the required literature texts, and developing analysis and writing skills. Students need to understand the social context, and discuss the text and characters, genre, structure, the ideas the author has expressed, and so on. There'll be a lot of guidance from the teacher for this.

    For all students, I would use acronyms (e.g. PEE paragraph) and templates to help guide the writing of single paragraphs and whole essays/answers (you write 'answers' for the language papers, not essays), sentence starters, lists of key vocab to use for that particular text, key quotes from the text, etc. Later in the course, I would give the students exemplar essays, past exam papers, and so on (they're available online too, she just needs to know which exam board she's studying). I like making graphic organisers, so I'd give one to my students for each text, and for the language exam, but you can find that sort of thing online too.

    For all students, individual feedback is given throughout the course - exam questions will be answered, in exam conditions, in the classroom, frequently, so she'll be well prepared for the final exams. Her teacher will see what she needs to work on, and will advise her, based on her in-class work, homework, and these assessments. There will also be mock exams in Y11.

    If she hasn't encountered Shakespeare, or 19th century texts, she may struggle with the language and social contexts. There are lots of online resources, such as https://www.sparknotes.com/shakespeare/, or if you wanted to purchase a study guide there are lots available, e.g. York Notes, CGP... There are some good videos on YouTube too, about the texts, and about answering the exam questions (e.g. https://www.youtube.com/user/mrbruff).
    sabrinakat likes this.
  4. Corvuscorax20

    Corvuscorax20 Lead commenter

    So has she actually been out of school for a few years? I don't understand how that translates to the UK system? Maybe she hasn't missed any English or maths, the school names could just be different. Reaching 14 and never having done any science puts her behind, but not irredeemably so.

    Why do you think BBC bitesize won't help? She needs to put the hard graft in, independently, and BBC bitesize will offer the best, structured way of filling in some of the gaps. Make sure you use the pages that are specific to her exam boards for each subject.

    Every year we have students arrive in year 10 who have missed years of education, or who have never been to school before, anything from refugees from war zones to home educated students, who have had no education. Also we have students arrive with little or not English.

    As a previous poster has said, literacy in English is key. If your daughters literacy levels are OK, and she is prepared to work hard, she can get there.

    Constant work at home on her English literacy, text books in all GCSE subjects, specific to the exam boards, and constant reference to BBC bitesize.

    She won't be using lab equipment in school, as that is currently banned. I hope she gets a chance to before the end of year 11.

    I hope she has been working hard on BBC bitesize over the past weeks of summer holiday. If not, she needs to start now, before breakfast. Look at cells, the periodic table and forces, in KS3 to start with.
    agathamorse likes this.
  5. brendonhatcher

    brendonhatcher New commenter

    Thanks for the responses. Digesting...

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