Saturday, 24 October 2015

Why I'm scared for my Year 10s...

As part of MathsConf5 I attended the AQA Maths/Mr Barton session on the new GCSE. I left with a plan - to order CGP revision guides for 9-1, to use the AQA-written quizzes on and to stress how difficult the new exams will be to those in my care.

I'm not sure whether this is tiredness, or a realistic idea of where we actually at, but having assessed my Year 10 set 2 using AQA's topic tests this week, I am scared for next year. I'm scared for our Year 10s and I'm scared for our Year 11s who'll need to resit in 2017.

I teach in a school where over 50% of our students are PP or 'disadvantaged'. With the nature of PP students, they struggle with comprehension more than their non-disadvantaged peers (according the constant training I receive). The new style of GCSE will hit them hard.

When we spoke about their DQs homework, and when they worked in lesson, the kids were flying. But when they did their homework misconceptions were flying and their assessments were poor (10% - 59%). They've since resat these, and I'm yet to mark them, but they were much more positive leaving the room yesterday morning.

I'm mostly concerned that their low reading ages and their ability to replicate but not to think for themselves will spell great difficulties with 2017's GCSEs andplunge our (recently defined) 'failing' department (~53% A*-C last year) into the abyss with little hope of bouncing back for (at least) a few years without major intervention and so much work and scrutiny.

This week I went through the whole assessment, revisited each question and allowed them to work on their issues and re-tested them to try to build a little confidence. Unfortunately, this cannot be a long-term answer to the issue and I need to do something. Unfortunately, with the lack of clarity around new grades, expectations around what constitutes a new 4 or a 5, what a 6 is and what a 7 is, the new papers being 50% A/A* (7, 8, 9) work, I don't see much positivity in maths teaching (particularly in my department, but I'm sure in others too) for quite a few years.

If I'm totally wrong on the topic, and there are answers to my concerns and problems, please let me know.

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