Posts Tagged ‘Early Entry’

The Early Entry Question

August 21, 2014 6 comments

This evening I happened across this tweet from Tom Bennett (@tombennett71):


“Very sad for individual schools, pupils who lose out. But these reforms eg early/ multiple exam entry, are fairer in the long run” -Tom Bennett

The ensuing conversation intrigued me, and there were lots of things I wanted to interject, but I felt 140 characters was a tad too short, so decided to sum up my feelings here.

So, early entry? A bad thing?

In itself, I would say no. I sat my maths GCSE a year early, aced it, and moved on to a certificate in additional mathematics which I enjoyed and which set me in good sted for the a level. Used this way, early entry is fantastic, and I feel it should be. This year, my school sat 3 y10 girls for their maths GCSE and they all hit A*s, there is no way they should be made to go over stuff they are majorly fluent with already for the whole of year 11.

So you think the reform Gove put in place was bad?

No, I’m majorly in favour of it. The scenarios mentioned above are not stopped by the reforms. They are the reason early entry exists. They are not, however, what early entry was being used for by the majority of people.

In my NQT year I had a year 11 class once a week. They all had Cs from the end of year ten and they would very politely tell me they weren’t interested in enhancing their maths grades as the had the C and Cs all you need right? (Wrong, actually read more here!)

That link is to a post I wrote on the idea of a threshold pass being the be all and end all, and mentions my views on early entry. That y11 class should all have been aiming for As, but stuck with Cs. If they’d not been entered early, they would have had better maths grades.

Why did schools do it then?

I don’t know. I’m fairly certain that no one involved in the decision making process at any school did it to hold pupils down. I think they must have overlooked the possibility that students would act this way. I think the driving force behind doing it was to boost the headline 5 A*-C including English and Maths figures (there’s that headline figure again- let’s hope progress 8 gets rid of this idea!)

How does it help that?

Well, it highlights pupils who may need extra intervention in order to reach the C and allows that provision to be put into place. This, in itself, is not a bad thing. I’m all for putting extra sessions and interventions on for those who need it, but I know of some schools that have, in the past, put weak teachers, or even cover supervisors, on the pupils that have hit the C and moved all their resources to the borderline.

There are bright pupils who end up with Cs who should be getting higher, but the bottom gets hit too. Weak pupils who scrape Gs or hit Us would also, at some schools, be forgotten about. They can’t get the C so why bother? I think that these pupils are the ones who need intervention most. (Again, I hope progress 8 can curb this behaviour too.)

So you think the elimination of early entry is good for top and bottom as it favours the borderline?

Actually, no. The borderline get hit with the same topics over and over because they are “big mark” questions or “dead certs” to come up. The system which put them through 4 a year meant for many “borderline” pupils at many schools they would sit maths 5 times. Each would be preceeded by a mock and revision time, leaving little time for actual, new learning. Surely it would be better to let them learn at their own pace and achieve what they can. How many people capable if A/A* were pigeonholed as “borderline” in year ten and put through this limiting regime meaning they left with a C? I’d wager a fair few.

So, what’s all that mean?

In short, I’m in favour of early entry for pupils who are ready and need to love on to the next stage. But I’m against this early entry game that was prevalent. I think that the idea to limit league tables will definitely stop it, so that’s a good thing. I do worry though that some schools may be reticent to enter the pupils who should be entered.

As for the threshold pass, C is everything idea, the faster it goes the better. I have high hopes for progress 8, let’s hope they are met.

4 Govian Years – A Retrospective

July 15, 2014 3 comments

I was going to call this piece “Goodbye, Mr Gove”, but Old Andrew (@OldAndrewUk) has already written this one with that title. I read his post, really enjoyed it and agreed with the majority of it. But that’s not what I wanted to write. This mornings announcement was a total shock, one from which I still haven’t really recovered! I wanted to have a look at some of the policy decisions that have happened during Mr Gove’s tenure and explore my feelings on them. I have tried to write objectively, and not taint my feelings on these policies with my feelings of Gove himself. I haven’t researched specifically for this post, all the measures here are from memory. If I’ve attributed something wrongly, or remembered it wrong, I do apologise. Feel free to correct in the comments and I will amend.

Progress 8

Progress 8 is something I have been meaning to blog about for a while, and I will blog in more detail soon. I think it is the single best piece of Education Policy in recent history and I have high hopes that it will eliminate the idea of a threshold pass which is detrimental to pupils. I truly hope that this measure doesn’t get scrapped by the incoming Education Secretary.

The New Maths Curriculum

The new secondary maths curriculum is, in my opinion, much better than the current one. It includes much more challenge for the most able and is far more rigorous. I have every faith that it will provide a much better grounding for A Level maths than the one we have at the moment. My only criticism is that it doesn’t go far enough. There are still some highly irrelevant topics (Why do we need to perform translations by hand in the 21st century?) and I would have loved to see basic Calculus and an intro to Complex Numbers included.

I’m yet to see the draft A Level curriculum, but I have high hopes for it. I feel tat Complex Numbers need to be included in A Level maths, and not just be kept for further maths. I’m fairly excited about the core maths qualification and hope that all these curriculum reforms lead to more people continuing with maths post 16 and post 18.

Performance Related Pay

I think this one is a terrible policy. It is open to abuse and could cause all sorts of trouble within schools. Teaching should be full of collaboration, but this runs the risk of pitting teachers against each other and causing people to share, and collaborate less. People may be less willing to help out a colleague in the fear that their results will outshine their own.

The death of early entry

I am a fan of this piece of policy. We had a ridiculous scenario where pupils were sitting their GCSE 6 times in some school before the end of year 11. The whole of their year 10 and 11 maths lessons were geared towards “hitting the c” and many potential A Level candidates were put off maths and many who could have scored A’s and B’s were never taught the higher stuff because of the regime they were in.

It also gave rise to classes where pupils had reached grade C at the end of year 10 and had then decided that that was good enough, so they refused to do any further work. Meaning that students who should and could have scored A’s and A*’s reached KS5 with only C grades. I know many students this year who had C’s but re-sat their maths GCSE as they needed B’s to get onto the courses they want to study at university.

Only June exams

This is a strange one. I have long been of the view that sitting all exams at the end of the year if of the most benefit for the students as once the whole course is completed they have a deeper understanding. In maths A Level C1 becomes really easy once you have studied C3 and C4 for instance. But on the other hand, ever year the January exams provide a reality check for many who walked the GCSE exams without working and thought they would be able to do this with A Levels. This may be off set in the long term by the tougher GCSEs, and IU think that Mocks done properly could recreate this effect.

Removal of QTS as a requirement

This is, quite frankly, a ridiculous policy. I’ve written before about my feelings on this matter, but to sum them up I would say that I think ever teacher should have had, or at least be having, some basic training. I’m fine with the schools direct/teach fist model of learning while teaching, but I think that this should be the minimum. I also feel that all teachers should be in control of their own CPD.

So, the verdict?

I don’t like what Gove stands for, I don’t like his Party and I don’t like his Ideology. I wouldn’t, however, say that everything he has done has been terrible. Slagging the Education Secretary off for every move he makes is something that has happened for as long as I can remember, and I think we need to start assessing policies on their own merits, not on who puts them forward. Gove is a fantastic orator and is brilliant at polarising public opinion. He has brought Education to the forefront of the minds of most people and raised its profile no end. I find some of his policies abhorrent, but I also find some of them to be fairly good. And I hope beyond all hope that when Nicky Morgan puts her own stamp on the portfolio that she doesn’t cancel Progress 8.

The Future?

I know very little about Nicky Morgan, I read her voting record this afternoon and baulked at it, particularly her major opposition to equal marriage. She rarely rebels (5 times out of 955 votes), which suggests she is agreeable to all the governments policies, or is happy to tow the line to further her career. On Education matters she has gone with the government on all major votes. She has little background in education, which means she is even further removed from the classroom than Gove, who at least had studied it as shadow minister for years before taking office. I only see things getting worse under her.

I said to a friend last week that Tristram Hunt needed to get up to scratch fast, come up with some policies and be ready to take on Gove at the dispatch box or he would run the risk of losing the debate ahead of 2015. I think the conservatives have done him a favour here, and now is the time for Labour to put forward their views on the education portfolio and take a lead on driving future policy.

I’d love to hear your views on the Govian years. I’m sure I’ve missed some major policies here, but here are the ones that stuck in my mind.

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