With the introduction of the new, more rigorous English GCSE, it has become a necessity that, within the English department, we are preparing students for a more intensive and exam focused KS4 curriculum. It is therefore imperative that we are teaching students about the skills that are involved when approaching any one of the questions that they may be faced with at GCSE – giving them a clear insight into the overlapping nature of these skills; whether they are looking at a Literature text or a Language exam question.
With this in mind, our schemes of work, and therefore our assessment methods for this year have to cater for a skills based approach. Students will not appear to make linear progress across the year as they may have a significant strength in one particular skill (which may be a focus for one scheme of work), however may struggle considerably with another (a primary focus for another scheme). Our KS3 curriculum does, however, offer opportunity for skills to be re-visited at least twice over the period of a year, allowing students to make visible progress in that particular skill over the course of that year.
Lastly, since the transformation over to a decimal system, moving away from levels, it has become apparent that there is vast disparity between the two grading systems. Students will naturally see a drop in the grade that they have received as the decimal system, and the schemes of work taught, link more explicitly to our KS4 marking criteria. As a result, the content will be more challenging and to attempt to make a comparison to last year’s attainment becomes a redundant undertaking, as there is simply not a direct comparison.
We appreciate that this transformation is incredibly complex but the new GCSE is forever changing the boundaries of expectation and we must continue to be aware of this. Consequently, there becomes a requirement to alter our approach to assessment at KS3.