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Which course at GCSE? Advice needed....

Discussion in 'Design and technology' started by foxbat, Sep 3, 2011.

  1. foxbat

    foxbat New commenter

    Dear All

    I have just achieved the dubious honour of posting the worst results in my career and the lowest A*-C % in my school too for AQA RMT this August.

    Context - Average state school, fairly disadvantaged students, all boys except 1. Group was 20 mixed ability, but with majority low ability, low attendance poor lit/num. I am 7 years into teaching, taught in private/state education and last year took on vastly more responsibility.

    I'd be the first to admit that I didn't spend as much time as I should have with the students, but extra responsibilities made it very difficult to devote too much extra time to them. However I really felt that this is the first time (obviously with the new AQA spec) that my students regardless of ability have struggled to engage with AQAs CA tasks.

    Following AQA training I also took a much more hands off approach to the students controlled assessment, I pushed them to be much more independent - a skill that is sadly lacking for students in my school, who seem to be spoon fed a lot of their other subject content.
    The head teacher is very supportive of the subject, we are relatively well funded and popular. I am a traditional RMT/CAD/Graphics teacher, not an expert in engineering/electronics.

    As HOF's we have been asked to conduct a curriculum review in the next month, in order to better inform the options for next year's GCSE cohort.
    So my question.

    What are the best, most suitable, alternative GCSE options for the type of school/students I have tried to describe? What do you deliver and why?
    What are your experiences of exam boards?
    Finally the head is trying to steer us as a school away from BTECs.

    Many thanks for any advice you can give.

    Welcome back to school. :-(

    Tom
     
  2. foxbat

    foxbat New commenter

    Dear All

    I have just achieved the dubious honour of posting the worst results in my career and the lowest A*-C % in my school too for AQA RMT this August.

    Context - Average state school, fairly disadvantaged students, all boys except 1. Group was 20 mixed ability, but with majority low ability, low attendance poor lit/num. I am 7 years into teaching, taught in private/state education and last year took on vastly more responsibility.

    I'd be the first to admit that I didn't spend as much time as I should have with the students, but extra responsibilities made it very difficult to devote too much extra time to them. However I really felt that this is the first time (obviously with the new AQA spec) that my students regardless of ability have struggled to engage with AQAs CA tasks.

    Following AQA training I also took a much more hands off approach to the students controlled assessment, I pushed them to be much more independent - a skill that is sadly lacking for students in my school, who seem to be spoon fed a lot of their other subject content.
    The head teacher is very supportive of the subject, we are relatively well funded and popular. I am a traditional RMT/CAD/Graphics teacher, not an expert in engineering/electronics.

    As HOF's we have been asked to conduct a curriculum review in the next month, in order to better inform the options for next year's GCSE cohort.
    So my question.

    What are the best, most suitable, alternative GCSE options for the type of school/students I have tried to describe? What do you deliver and why?
    What are your experiences of exam boards?
    Finally the head is trying to steer us as a school away from BTECs.

    Many thanks for any advice you can give.

    Welcome back to school. :-(

    Tom
     
  3. mrichards73

    mrichards73 New commenter

    My situation mirrors your exactly as new HOF. Usually 20% above FFTD, this year 20% below - first time below in 10 years of teaching. Followed the Controlled Assessment rules and think we've been punished for it, low ability students don't engage in self-assessment (something we tried seeing as we couldn't offer our own direct feedback) as readily as others and when it came to the exam, didn't revise well enough, if at all.
    I feel same as you about BTECs - OK for some students but not if they want to follow a high level career in that subject, so would prefer to stick with GCSE's in the main.
    I think this year we are going to go all out to be as crafty as possible to ensure that Coursework grades are as high as possible, within the rules - just!
    We do offer a BTEC engineering, which is useful because teachers with any of the workshop specialisms can tailor it to their teaching and resource strengths, and maybe we'll have to look at steering students that we know will perform badly in exams towards that course. The irony is that these weakest students that don't perform in exams (E, F,, G) technically shouldn't be engaging in a course that is supposed to be aimed at level 2 only (my school isnt interested in L1 qualifications).

    I am also intersted at hearing what advice people have.
     
  4. So, your A*-C grades were low, but what about the other kids? Did they reach target? You may need to come up with 2 solutions, one for the higher achieving students and one for the lower lot.
    We deliver AQA Product Design and tend to find that students achieve their targets (as per FFT) however they do so by getting higher grades in the CA and lower ones in the written exam and it balances out. We see the same trend in OCR Food & Nutrition and Textiles. With the current group moving from Year 10 to Year 11 we tied down their CA choices to just three categories to ensure they can achieve their best.
    The group I will have this year in Year 10 has a higher than normal bunch of low ability boys (fall out from the E-bacc I suspect) who display similar tendencies to your group - poor literacy / numeracy / attendance / behaviour. I plan to run a project up to half term then decide whether I a) put them in for GCSE Product Design, b) put them in the AQA Entry Level Product Design (so I can continue to teach the same subject matter to the whole group but with differentiation or c) Put some of them in for AQA Short Course Design Technology which follows a similar pattern to our KS3 course and has a less complex examination.
    My decision will be based on evidence of their behaviour / attitude / attendance and attainment over the next half term plus what their targets will be - not just in DT but in other subjects as well.
    Links
    AQA GCSE Product Design http://web.aqa.org.uk/qual/newgcses/dandt/new/product_overview.php
    AQA Entry Level Design Technology suite http://web.aqa.org.uk/qual/elc/technology/dt_systems_noticeboard_new.php?id=07&prev=07
    AQA Short course GCSE Design Technology http://web.aqa.org.uk/qual/newgcses/dandt/new/short_overview.php
     
  5. I got good results from a mixed ability class. I do the Edexcel Resistant Materials and decided to do two seperate coursework projects, one for Design (year10)and one for Making (year11). The idea was that we could control what they designed more (a toy). The toy gives them options for research that many projects they choose for themselves do not have. However I do not like the marking criteria for the designing. In year 11 there was no designing, they made a box witha a draw and hinged lid to our plan. It was differentiated on the basis of joints used and complexity of the lid. They can turn handles and CNC decoration etc. Year 11 was stress free as they loved coming in and just making stuff. Overall it went well. But, my new year 11 are well behind on their toy and I am going to have to push them like mad to finish their folder ie I am worried as hell about them, as usual.The cohort of 37 had only 3 girls and 19 did better on the exam than the coursework.
     
  6. bigpedro

    bigpedro New commenter

    Well, I've just kissed goodbie to Systems and Control (AQA) after posting pi55 poor results. some kids achieved highly, some exceptionally low. I don't blame AQA specifically but it was really difficult to try and get students who are spoon fed in all other subjects to engage with a CA task where the teacher was "hands off" and was stirictly time limited. And in Systems, you need the CA marks to be high because the exam is rediculously difficult compared to other tech subjects.
    Our HOD has just completed the WJEC RM course with last years Y11 and has done pretty well. It's so structured that they actually give a page title and "official bordered sheets" for each of the 20 pages required (no more, no less) its a little like the ancient Northern board sheets. This seems to have worked well for his low end students. The drawback is that the exam is quite detailed and focusses on specific designers and a few other things so theres slightly fewer "common sense" answers than in an AQA paper and less that are open to interpretation. I think it'd be worth looking at WJEC as an alternative.
    as for me... from this year, we're all doing AQA PD (even though the results for that are worse this year than mine) but. Ours is not to question why....
     

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