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Three year KS4 and the end of modular exams - What routes are you planning?

Discussion in 'Science' started by henrycordy, Jan 11, 2012.

  1. Ofqual has confirmed that GCSEs for teaching from September 2012 will be linear with terminal assessment replacing the modular route that my school currently follows. We have just started a three year KS4 with our year 9 learners already one term into their GCSE, and are now trying to plan out what routes our current year 8's could take over a three year terminal assessment course. Anyone else had any similar thoughts on this?
  2. lunarita

    lunarita Senior commenter

    Coming from a school which still does a 2 yr KS4 programme, can I ask why schools have switched to 3 years? Is the extra year made up for by less weekly contact time? Or is it felt that an extra year is needed anyway to cover the content?
  3. mm38

    mm38 New commenter

    I'm also intrigued by the move to a 3 year Key Stage 4 by a number of schools. When the specs changed we moved from offering triple, double and applied to triple and BTEC. This was partly due to the number of students wanting to do triple but also we felt that it worked best with the new 40% rule. Our main frustration will be that we will now have to look closely at topic orders and may well want to change how we teach the subject now that we don't have to do bits for particular units. E.g. could do all acids together and all energy together in Chemistry.
    Year 9 still do NC work and APP before starting GCSE in the summer term.
  4. Evertonian

    Evertonian New commenter

    I have considered every route I can think of and can't see how a three year will work for KS4 now...we didn't do it and I'll admit despite some pros in it I don't think it's a good idea anyway for us but each to their own. The only thing I have done is use Year 9 for focusing on topics in Year 10 and 11 but in a more hands on KS3 way so that we aren't hitting brand new areas of Science in Y10 and can have a smoother transition. We'll see if it works at all! Looks like ultimately your exams are now in Y11 if it's Triple you're doing so you can but teach then revise lots before hand...which is the case either way...at least you can do it thoroughly but wouldn't fancy revising work from Y9 in Y11 without time to do it over again potentially.

    Core and Additional seems a bit confused - I felt they'd suggested they could be done at the end of any year (e.g. core Y10, Additional Y11) but some people feel that's not the case on here!
  5. I have heard that they still might allow science to do core in year 10 and additional in year 11.

    One benefit I can see for teaching triple Chemistry as a terminal exam is I can teach unit 4 atomic structure and bonding first (which is what I use to do with the old scheme). It really bugs me that OCR see fit to move it to unit 4.
  6. sadscientist

    sadscientist Senior commenter

    I don't think there's any reason why you can't do Core in Year 10 and Additional in Year 11, taking the exams at the end of the year. They are discrete GCSEs. But once the units are claimed towards the Core and Additional Science GCSEs they can't contribute towards separate science GCSEs. The only way to get Triple award is to sit all 9 exams at the end of Year 11. There's no flexibility between Double and Triple Award. Which could actually reduce the numbers attempting three Sciences - probably the opposite of what was intended!
  7. ploughlane

    ploughlane New commenter

    We teach the GCSEs over 3 years with the double students having 5 lessons a fortnight and the triple sets having only 9 a fortnight.
    What with this change and the boards shifting the grade boundaries so significantly, science grades across the country are going to drop through the floor. Oh well, Gove will be content that an A grade really will be an A grade and an A* student will really be someone special.

  8. Roboteer

    Roboteer New commenter

    We are changing to a three year KS4 from September. We are doing it to allow the school to maintain the breadth of subjects they can offer. Students will study some subjects over 3 years but for less hours per week. Others will have more hours in a week but will only be studied for that year.
    Science is dropping from 10 per fortnight over two years to 6 per fortnight over three years. Triple is becoming an option block in year 11 with an additional 10 hours per fortnight for that year.
    We're happy to have more time to build up understanding and also the freedom to teach topics together that would previously have had to be separated because of exams. We feel getting KS3 right will be tricky though.
  9. bainfoll

    bainfoll New commenter

    Well I have read your post and some of the replies and really wonder why schools are still trying to teach KS4 over 3 years. GCSE is written as a two year course. The logistices of building breadth and balance across KS4 should not be the justification for stretching the 120 learning hours (time allocated by boards for each qualifiication, I think) across 3 years. The quality of the learning experience will be at risk as well as the opportunity for the child to be the best they can be in a challenging subject.
    KS3 is a vital foundation for success at GCSE and beyond.

    Does your department
    try to cram all the content from a 3 year course into 2 years. It can’t be
    done. Teachers get frustrated and pupils are quickly switched off science. We
    must get away from the notions of content and coverage.

    Do you teach the big picture well (teaching for
    scientific understanding) rather than teaching the recall of lots of content.
    <font size="2">Have you p</font><font size="2">lanned your curriculum around teaching How Science Works progressively? Are there plenty of opportunities for </font><font size="2">scientific enquiry? Downplaying scientific enquiry in KS3 will ill-serve
    pupils as a preparation for GCSE. I am really concerned that schools are reducing the time allocated for science this is a greater problem than any changes from linear to modular! Lets ensure we have 20% learning time for GCSE and 15% for KS3. This is manageable and allows for proper planning and delivery of outstanding teaching and learning of science.</font>
    <font size="2"></font>

  10. The idea of starting GCSE with some students in Year 9 is to cover the vast content that Separate Sciences entail, in addition to buiding How Science Works skills necessary for coursework and which now has a greater weighting in written papers.
    I can see many schools taking a potential hit in terms of results. All GCSE Science exam boards' new specifications are much more demaning on students than that previously in terms of coursework and the exam technique needed to answer more taxing questions, which involve a great amount of analysis, evaluation and, in some cases, extended writing. Coupled with this, is the fact that assessment will be at the end of Year 11, meaning that students will be revising three years work for each Science subject for examination - a phenomenal amount, compared to the current system. This will be six exams in total. How can results not be negatively affected? Furthermore, this is just for Science! All other subjects will be linear.
    It will be interesting to see the future grade boundaries for the new linear system and compare these with the previous modular system. I cannot see how it will be possible to have similar grade boundaries given the nature of linear assessment and the increased content and demands of new specifications. Undoubtedly, A-level Sciences will eventually follow suit and we will have an assessment system that is not dissimilar to when I sat my A-levels! This does not give students the same chance of showing their true potential as the current system.
    We will probably be adopting Separate Sciences for higher sets, Core & Additional for standard ability and Vocational Applied Science for lower ability. It is a real shame that teachers are not consulted more before such huge changes are imposed. After all, we are the ones on 'the shop floor' with the best insight.............................

  11. sciencebabe

    sciencebabe New commenter


    We successfully teach KS3 over 2 years and KS4 over 3 years and have done since the SAT's disappeared (we had a recent OFSTED science survery visit which graded our curriculum and T&L good - just missed outstanding).
    It was during a department meeting that someone suggested it as we used to have great fun with the students over the 3 year KS3 and do lot's of practicals and the students really enjoyed it. Then they would get to KS4 and we would say "right that's it no time for all the fun stuff like practicals - off we go with the content and the only practicals are for coursework" (I am exagerating btw). So we decided that we would flip it over so we could still do the fun stuff when they were not so eager with a 3 year KS4. It has worked really well - until we were 'goved'!!
    We are still continuing with this and certificating Core at end of Y10 and additional at end of Y11. The triple is the problem and am still looking for workable solutions....

    Very cross about all the changes as the modular system really worked for the students!!!! Everything else is modular - A and AS levels and degree's why pick on GCSE's!!

    Ok rant over......
  12. There has been talk in my school of entering triple students for one subject (e.g. biology) in year 10 and then doing the other two in year 11. Not sure if this is workable or actually allowed though.
    I'm struggling to get my head round all the changes, every year group is having to follow a different route at the moment, it's crazy. Maybe if they stopped making so many changes teachers would have more time to plan their lessons rather than worrying about who's doing exams when.
  13. ScienceGuy

    ScienceGuy Established commenter

    Looking to the future, it seems that the national curriculum is likely to change to make KS3 two years and KS4 three years (based on the report of the group examining possible changes). This would mean a drop in content in KS3 which would allow more foucs (and hopefully less rocks!)
    Having seen the threads about the recent module results from Edexcel and the comments about the AQA C1 paper I would not want to enter Yr 9 pupils for exams at the moment (and, as far as I can tell, these results will not cound towards their GCSE unless they certify this year) as they are unlikely to be able to do themselves justice in the exam
  14. MarkS

    MarkS New commenter

    With no SATS and terminal exams, shouldn't we actually be talking about a coherent 5-year programme of study in our schools? If exams won't be till the end of Year 11 (or possibly Year 10 for Core), then why bother to even call it KS3 and KS4 any more? It should just be a programme of 5 years of good Science teaching which leads to an external qualification.
    OK, we still have teacher assessment somewhere for KS3, but that's only really a progress check. I think that in my Department, we will definitely be considering things from this point of view.

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