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Victims of our own success?

Discussion in 'Heads of department' started by nowaypedro, Jan 19, 2011.

  1. Hi, first time poster here, I could do with knowing what anyone else thinks 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? I think this is the one time when I need to stand up and say "no" rather than trying to please everyone. That's tougher than it sounds though.

  2. johnblack

    johnblack New commenter

    An excellent example of schools fudging figures to chase the league tables. Surely you must have realised that the National in no meets high academic standards equivelent to a GCSE. Its good for pupils who have a target of D or below as they come out with a nice qualifaction and some excellent skills. No good for some one considering doing ICT A level. In hindsight it seems with results of 100%A*-C you should never have dropped the option of taking a GCSE.
    My advice
    Learn to say no
    The head is being unreasonable and unproffesional.
    Class sizes (get over it - other have to teach similar amounts)
    Attempt to have GCSE as an Option National as core.
    Find a good GCSE stream you candidates in Yr 9 to choose the GCSE as option or core, filter out the less able and direct them to the National

  3. Totally sympathise. We have just been asked to teach core and additional science along side triple science so that students get 5 GCSEs from science as it is the same stuff. WHY? All that extra administration. If you can suggest how to say "no" to me head I would be grateful! What is the worst she can do?
  4. First of all sideshow how are you getting 5 GCSEs out of that? Core and Additional then Extension give students three GCSEs or Core and Additional equal to 2. If your being expected to run Core and Additional and then something like IGCSE than that's not on. Original Poster, I agree with the post above about the value of vocational qualifications compared to GCSE ones. In our school GCSE ICT is going to be changed from core to optional because of demands to meet the English Bacc, maybe you can push it that way? Seems forward thinking of you then as well.
  5. Different exams for triple and core and additional, same bits of coursework, so same stuff, more exams more qualifications. All about average GCSE results... Hey ho!

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