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What implications for a 3-year KS4?

Discussion in 'Secondary' started by littlemissmo, Dec 19, 2010.

  1. littlemissmo

    littlemissmo New commenter

    My school has recently decided to implement a radical curriculum change for next year. This involves the introduction of a 2-year KS3 and a 3-year KS4. Not necessarily a bad thing in itself, but there are certain aspects of the proposals which concern me. Firstly, pupils choose 6 options over the 3 years. They will follow 2 GCSE's over each of the 3 years, one whole morning (4 x 50 minute lessons) and a whole afternoon (2 x 45 minute lessons) a week devoted to each subject. In response to our argument that Year 9 pupils may not have the maturity to cope with GCSE work, we have been advised to offer non-exam courses as an alternative. The core subjects will be able to enter pupils at any time during the 3 years, but we already have a history of multiple re-sits in maths. Many of the staff in the school have grave reservations. The lack of continuity in a subject, ie where pupils study a subject in Years 7 and 8, but then do not return to it until Y11, or study it again in Y9, but then have forgotten all they learnt but wish to take it up again post-16. In general educational terms, is this going to provide any depth of learning and how will pupils develop a passion for a subject by squashing it into a year? How will pupils cope with spending a whole morning on one subject on a regular basis? And perhaps more importantly, how will staff cope with these changes? We have been assured that there will be no increased workload (!), and in fact there will be less work! Does anyone have any experience of teaching a curriculum along these lines, or any views generally. Personally, I think it is dangerous to proceed where there is still a large number of staff who need convincing.
  2. tafkam

    tafkam Occasional commenter

    Oh good grief.
    Has anyone ever actually given an indication as to why they think this might be a <u>good</u> idea?
  3. strawbs

    strawbs Established commenter

  4. littlemissmo

    littlemissmo New commenter

    I forgot to mention that we are an 'outstanding'(!) school in an inner city area. The only reason the pupils do so well is through the hard work that the teachers put in, and I think we will be under even more pressure to work harder. I'm not sure what the rationale is, but apparently we are 'standing still' and we need to 'energise' the curriculum and 'move it forward'. Also, something about giving the pupils more choice.! ( If I hear that cited as a good thing again (NHS, schools etc) I think I am going to be sick!) 'It will lead to greater personalisation and greater flexibility and will be adding mixed age to mixed ability.' What I think will happen is that pupils for whom they consider that it is not appropriate to take GCSE's in Year 9 will find themselves in a 'sink' non-GCSE course, ie streaming by the back door. We have always had a commitment to mixed ability teaching which has worked really well for us, but this is going to be the slippery slope. It's the 4 lesson sessions which really terrify me. I teach MFL - help!
  5. The students will not have the necessary skills for your subject when they start key stage 4 and instead of developing the skills of students you'll be helping them remember stuff to pass exams.
  6. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    Although 2 years can be a bit short sometimes for GCSE (especially when you're trying to do a science GCSE in reduced time), three years is definitely too long!
    Whole mornings and afternoons! This could have implications for attendance when students realise they have Mr Quelch all morning!
  7. We have a three year KS4 and for us in RS we have found there are numerous advantages.

    1.Most able students can be fast tracked through in two years - with positive value-added if interested - this then gives scope for either further GCSE or even an AS.
    2. Less able have longer time to prepare and more able can be stretched even further - more A/A* grades.
    3. We can teach full-course RS and still cover short-course Citizenship if appropriate.

  8. littlemissmo

    littlemissmo New commenter

    I can see that there are benefits for core subjects who do have more time in KS4. My worries are for the options who, although it appears that there is more teaching time, the reality is that there is less pro-rata than there would be over two years, and they have only one year (till May/June) to cover the content. I believe we will be forced to teach to the spec even more than we already are. I would be interested to hear how the options are treated in your school apostate?
  9. Students sit Eeglish, Maths, Science (in various combinations), RE and 4 or 5 optional subjects - depending on aptitude.
    In RE we get 3 hours a fortnight.
    Maths, Science and English about 7.5.
    The options subjects get about 4.5 hours per fortnight.
    It works out for most - although, on reflection, I still find certain practical subjects want to remove students from my lessons in year 11 to complete coursework they've had three years to complete. :)
  10. littlemissmo

    littlemissmo New commenter

    thanks for that. I don't see why our school are so keen on the 'one year per gcse' model. There are obviously other ways of doing things that have not been considered. It's the 'go and visit one school, copy their idea wholesale despite the fact it is nothing like ours in terms of intake, location etc' model!
  11. Trendy Art

    Trendy Art Star commenter

    By going the stage not age route, it does spread out the glut that is all the students getting coursework at the same time. Then departments fighting with each other to get Y11s in to do exam prep, etc. I think we'd agree there's times when you do want the students for as long as possible.
    Ultimately it's about what is perceived as the best use of time - when you have the larger learning periods, you don't have as much student movement.
    Pros and cons... is it the students' interests at heart? Time will tell...
  12. littlemissmo

    littlemissmo New commenter

    Sadly, I think that this is the reason. Although SLT would swear it isn't! We have been quoted the US model, that they do a bit of this and a bit of that each year, and that we are just being resistant to change because it's the way we have always done things. I really believe that we are not doing the best by our pupils, it's just the desire to be the local school doing 'radical' things to attract attention.
  13. littlemissmo

    littlemissmo New commenter

    Or potentially two years. They could take their GCSE in Y9 and then nothing for two years. Or alternatively, have a two year gap in Years 9 & 10, then pick it up again in Y11. From the point of view of MFL I can't see any advantages.
  14. Moomin Troll

    Moomin Troll New commenter

    I do know of a school in the North West of England that has been running a 2 year KS3 for at least 6 years now. (I went for an interview as HOD and never got it!) That said, what they do is get the students to opt for their GCSE choices at the end of Year 8 and they commence standard GCSE's in Year 9. If at the point of exam entry (usually in year 10) the students have not made enough progress they then 'extend' the GCSE to cover another year and the student sits their GCSE exam in the third year of their studies at GCSE level. If the student is good and passes their GCSE in Year 10 with a good grade then they have a choice from a number of 'other' GCSE's which are crammed into a single year - or they can opt to do AS levels in year 11. Both seem to be popular amongst students.

    Why do they do this? overall - they have seen a significant rise in their average points score per pupil and a good rise in their relative LEA league table position, they now also have more students going on to further study at post 16
  15. It shouldn't help though? How does that work? Is it only because the students do more qualifications or because they get higher results?
  16. Your slt do realise there will be no resits of GCSEs? 40% rule...
  17. littlemissmo

    littlemissmo New commenter

    Not sure what they realise - they seem to be on a completely different planet as far as I can work out!
  18. Kathemy

    Kathemy New commenter

    My daughter's school do something in between. Students choose options in Yr 9 (as normal) then after May half-term the whole school 'rolls over' into the next academic year, so Yr9's drop the subjects they are not pursuing and start the GCSE course a half-term early, then Yr 10's become Yr 11, Yr 11's leave for study leave and exams, Yr 12's roll over into Yr13.

    They also start RE GCSE in Yr 9 and take it in Yr10, this leaves room for extra Science in Yr 11 (they're Science specialists). The school have been doing this for a number of years and it certainly works well for them.
  19. MarkS

    MarkS New commenter

    Actually, the 40% rule doesn't mean no resits...just that you might have to do the whole course again.
    You have to do 40% of the assessment in the same series as you certificate, and can only resit a module once. But if you certificate, there is nothing to stop a students starting all over again and resitting the whole course.
  20. And they end up with the GCSE on their UCAS form twice?

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