I know I should let this lie, but I can’t … maybe it’s because I’m tired having been up since 4am having agreed in a moment of insanity, along with loads of other teachers (we’re like that!) to go into school to help prepare for results day as we had ITV Daybreak doing the whole “envelope opening” thing live from school.
All day, the only thing I have read and heard on the news is about the decline in the overall results. How demoralising must this be for the students? and will they be looking to point the finger of blame if they missed their target grades or in their mind, even worse, if they miss that golden grade C? One reason cited for the decline is the increase in early entry, and those that read this blog regularly know my views on this. I’m sat here trying to put together a “to do” list for the forthcoming term preparing for a possible November entry and I can’t help but feel that I have to yet again, defend early entry. No-one else is and I suspect that the option will be taken away from us soon, or someone will come up with something mental, oh! I don’t know – something like a hugely paper-laden process whereby we have to apply for mitigating circumstances as to why specific students should be allowed to sit a GCSE before the end of year 11 … sounds far fetched! but you just never know!
Early entry, getting a grade C and stopping teaching any more maths will result in a decline in grades, but this is not what we do – we continue to teach the students right up until the wire and they will sit the final exam at the end of year 11. Today I watched a student open their results, and they were hoping to find an “A” on their certificate for maths – they had gotten a C in year 10 – and what a feeling to know that they had achieved what they wanted to. This was no isolated case … almost all the students will go on and improve their original result if they had sat an exam earlier. Undoubtedly a major benefit that our students gain from doing exams early and “bagging” that C is that it gives them confidence that they can do well on exams … I tell them never to accept the first offer and that’s what the result from the first exam is … its a starting point for negotiation!
So if these students are achieving these types of grades at the end of year 11, why are we doing early entry? … lots of reasons, and for the cynical amongst you it is to some extent about the stats, its about knowing where we are and what to expect I suppose – but the main driver is that not all of our students will end their education in the normal way by sitting exams in year 11 (pregnancies is just an example) and making sure that they have the qualifications they will need to do whatever they want to, when their lives (in some cases) are a bit more sorted.
A couple of students that gained a C, after a couple of previous attempts are now able to apply for the college courses they want to – if you are thinking well, if they hadn’t sat their exam until the end of year 11 they would have gotten a C anyway. Not always the case and they may have just gotten their target grades (D’s and E’s), but by having the final chance these students worked so hard, seriously above and beyond, and I’m not convinced that this would have been the case if they had, just the one shot at it. I have blogged before giving specific examples of the type of things our students have to cope with and so for those of you that might want real examples the link is here.
Think about passing your driving test – I took 3 times to pass and they let me drive, what is potentially a lethal weapon – I sometimes wonder if we aren’t taking things just a little bit too seriously, but then again to some students getting the best possible grade they are capable of, can be life-changing, so whatever the inevitable changes to GCSEs/entries brings, over the next couple of years … lets get it right!
I may end up deleting this post when I’ve slept 🙂