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What options do you offer at KS4?

Discussion in 'Science' started by kritur, Nov 8, 2011.

  1. 11-18 comp
    Traditional KS3 curtailed about Easter time of Y9 for starting the first GCSE module.
    KS4 routes
    • OCR Nationals (for voc kids)
    • BTEC
    • GCSE Science + applied science
    • GCSE Science + additional science
    • GCSE biology, chemistry, physics
    So we currently have more routes than you although these will soon be simplified to just
    • BTEC
    • GCSE Science + additional
    • GCSE biology, chemistry, physics
    School in a nice area with lovely kids and 80% achieving 2 GCSEs then I can't see why you need the BTEC. No reason why they shouldn't be doing foundaton triple. Think about the KS4 routes in the context of their progression. What do your students go on and do afterwards? If you're 11-16 then Connexions should have this information somewhere. You need to make sure you are providing suitable progression routes for your students so those who want to take science further are able to but everyone has a base eg, if they decide to be a primary teacher they will need GCSE science.
  2. Feeling sorry that you have so few replies. I don't think our school is necessarily comparable but I'll feed the data in anyway:
    Independent girls 11-18 selective school with ~ 90 pupils per year group.
    KS3: Y7 & Y8 follow 'edited' version of NC to prepare them for the GCSE course and / or to ensure they cover stuff that is not in GCSE course (magnetism & pressure for example in Physics) that we think they should know about.
    KS4: Y9, Y10, Y11
    GCSE biology, chemistry, physics
    All pupils take 3 sciences, no one is allowed to drop a subject or reduce down to dual award. Even pupils who are ill or away for 6 months (I have had 2 in the last 2 years) do all three sets of papers.
    A mixed blessing here is that they all then think they can do an A level in their favourite science - some of them are not up to it & even an A* pupil at GCSE can struggle with the A level course (because the GCSE course we do has had some very low grade boundaries). In Y12 we get about 12 doing Physics, 24 doing Chemistry & 36 doing Biology A level.

  3. Thanks for the replies, any more input would be useful. I am sitting here at the moment looking at all of the KS4 courses there are available and i am finding it very overwhelming! If i am perfectly honest i can't see why we can't just offer triple and double science, with our lower ability having 3 years to cover the double course.

    Does anyone have opinions on whether additional applied or Environmental and land based sciences are more suitable for lower ability than additional science?
  4. ScienceGuy

    ScienceGuy Established commenter

    We are altering our current offerings. Yr 11 have four routes, Triple Science, Core+Additional, Core +Additional Applied and Core only. The standard teaching time is 6 hours per fortnight with pupils taking anything apart from Core only using science as one of their options therefore getting 10 hours per fortnight (no extra for triple students)
    In Yr 10 we have altered what we offer. Instead of Core only we offer BTEC as we felt that Core as a course was dull and was not suitable as the only experience of science for KS4 students. We have also changed our triple course to AQA Certificates do we can focus on the science and not worry about the more exoteric areas of HSW with the hope that they would be a better preparation for A levels in science.
    It is too early to say how well these changes are going; there are issues with the BTEC as my colleagues are focusing on teaching content rather than getting them through the tasks and are finding that our lower ability pupils are struggling with some of the concepts.
  5. Just a few things I think you should consider:
    Btec won't count for your A* - C ratings after this year, so I would agree with others - for a school like yours, why do it at all?
    If you have different courses (triple and double, say) how will you manage movement between groups where students need to move to or from triple or double?
    Rotating groups between subject specialists?
    Schemes of work?
    When are you planning to do the exams, bearing in mind the current 40% terminal component, and in view of OfQual's discussion document on turning all courses terminal only?
    I think in principle you should endeavour to keep things as simple as possible. In my school we currently teach 21st Century A to 70% of our students over 3 years. Only the top set does triple science. The remainder follow double, but taught in the triple format and assessed in Y10 (core) and Y11 (additional). We rotate between specialists for the top end of the cohort (currently the top 4 groups), but I use my strongest teachers for the non-rotating lower end GCSE groups where we're working on raising D students to C students and relationships are far more important.
  6. Roboteer

    Roboteer New commenter

    Btec won't count for your A* - C ratings after this year, so I would agree with others - for a school like yours, why do it at all?
    This is not an accurate statement. There is a new verison of the Science BTEC being launched for teaching from Sept 2012. This is set to be able to be included in the 5A*-C headline figures. The changes announced for that are:
    Each qualification in the 5 must come from a separate subject area
    Each qualification must have a minimum 120 GLH content
    No more than two non-GCSE qualifications may be included in the five.
    The new BTEC spec will meet these criteria and so is unlikely not to appear on the approved list (due to be released in January). It will only be available as a one GCSE equivalent now but shoudl still be considered for students for whom it is the most appropriate route in my opinion.
    In my school we currently offer:
    Triple to the top set - some drop down to Core and Additional at the start of year 11 based on their initial modules. We use AQA for our exam board.
    We have a Core and Additional set.
    We then curently have the lower two sets taking the BTEC extended certificate at Level 2.
    Finally we have a small group in our current year 11 who are taking the single Core GCSE in Science over two years.
  7. Evertonian

    Evertonian New commenter

    We are 11-16 girls.

    We have Triple as an option (enough this year to make a set of their own for the full science timetable).
    2 GCSE groups (fairly big)
    -both EdExcel, I feel the coursework suits ours best so we've moved from AQA. Prefer the spec too though AQA are very well prepared and have some good support materials.

    We also do BTEC with 4 smaller groups and one of those just does Certificate (single GCSE) alongside ASDAN, the others do Extended Certificate for 2 GCSE equivalent.

    I hope we'll increase GCSEs and as far as we can get good double C+ results we'll increase GCSE sets in place of BTEC.

    I do see a need for BTEC even though it won't count in headline figures. I feel it's much better for those pupils who really aren't going to get CC+ at GCSE. At least for us, I feel it suits them and it can be taught well. It will be more rigorous with examined components of some sort next year (2012 start) though so it will be harded presumably with less reward on a school level. Depending on the local colleges it could lead into L3 BTECs in Science though for those who wouldn't have done A Levels anyway. Perhaps it would look good to talk to the local colleges about what they accept and feed that in - I'd be impressed with that for the cost of a couple of emails!

    From personal looking into things (apologies if mentioned - I'm replying but can't recall who mentioned what now) - you have the OCR National option which would be like BTEC I guess but no experience with it, GCSE Applied Science, single GCSE could be an option (don't really see the point though if they can get C). There is the iGCSE option as well - it has some great points but would only suit particular pupils.

    Also be aware that it's all probably going linear next year and that may mean summer Y10 and Y11 exams or may mean all at the end of Y11 and that would sway decisions on the board for GCSE, precise GCSE and iGCSE considerations.

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