Wednesday, 30 November 2011
Parents threaten exam boycott
In a heated exchange of views, parents expressed their opposition to the new system where Year 9 students have to take their GCSEs early, the apparent streaming which has crept into class organisation and the serious lack of communication from the school management.
Unless their concerns are addressed very soon, there was agreement among those present that their children would boycott exams. And concern about the issue was mushrooming fast. Last week, it was just a few parents.
Around 80-90 parents this evening met with Rob Goode, the Chair of Calder High Governors. Other governors present were Geraldine Russell (parent governor) and Jean Bradbury (community governor).
The HebWeb has been told that while many of the parents were armed with reports, publications and statistics about effects of taking GCSEs early, the Governors appeared much less well-informed and at times not even familiar with what is currently going on in the school.
Parents said that they need a further meeting very soon, urgently, certainly before the end of term with the Head and the senior management team, and that the meeting should be properly communicated to all parents.
Some parents reported that their children were becoming stressed as the curriculum has become so exam based, too early in secondary school. They were losing enthusiasm, and had little of the enjoyment they once had.
It was felt that the school's educational strategy was focusing far too much on raising the number of grade C passes, in order to manipulate the league tables.
Many felt that the school should immediately revert to the previous system and questioned why no senior management were present at the meeting.
Concerns about early GCSE at Calder High
A meeting has been arranged at Calder High School for Wednesday 30th November at 6pm so that parents who are concerned at the way that Calder High has rearranged the GCSE timetable for year 9 pupils can meet the school's governors.
Young year 9 children are being asked to take their GCSE exams 2 years early apparently in order to boost the number of C or above passes and therefore the school league table position. Parents are worried that year nine students lack the emotional maturity and confidence and will not achieve their full potential.
A government report published on 14th November is highly critical and shows that this practice leads to lower grades, and even adversely affects resit outcomes.
Some of the questions being asked include
- What benefits do Calder High consider this new system will delive over and above the previous system of studying GCSEs over year 10 and year 11?
- What were students previously doing in Year 9 and why is this no longer deemed necessary to their education?
- What evidence have Calder High drawn on in making this decision?
- Can relevant documents that summarise the research be made
available? Perhaps there were papers presented to the Governing Body
which provide a fuller rationale and justification, could these be
made available to parents.
- How is the system being evaluated?
The main argument against early entry is that statistically, early entry candidates perform worse overall than those who do not enter early, even when taking account of resits (see below for precise figures). This suggests that some students are being entered for GCSEs before they are ready. Also, candidates could be 'banking' their grade as soon as they get C or above and as a result not achieve their full potential.
Many parents have individually contacted the school and feel that their concerns have been dismissed, or are told that their views will be 'taken on board'.
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