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How Common Is A Long Key Stage 3? (More Common Than Ofsted Would Like)

30 November 2017

Amanda Spielman, the chief inspector, is worried that pupils are increasingly beginning their GCSE courses at the start of year 9. This means the teaching of, say, the Key Stage 3 history curriculum happens in as little as 38 hours. 

So how prevalent is this trend of a three-year GCSE course? VERY, it seems.

Year 9 was the most common time to start GCSE courses among our panellists. With only 41% of teachers saying they started in Year 10.

Why? Most school leaders will tell you it’s down to the bigger content in the new GCSEs. Headteacher Liam Collins explains the situation beautifully here.

Are headteachers who make the decision to have a long GCSE course making a terrible mistake? We asked panellists what decision they would make…

Half of teachers working in schools where GCSEs started in year 9 said they would stick with it. The other half would change to later in year 9 or year 10.

Teachers working in schools where GCSEs started in Year 10 typically wanted to keep it that way, although around 40% wanted to change.

We have seen this sort of ‘grass is greener’ effect before on homework contracts. In that case, we found teachers in schools without contracts often wanted them, but those who had them wanted to get rid of them!

Out of interest, we also asked if schools were still sitting their GCSE candidates a year early in any subject. And some of you still are…

This could explain some of the students starting their courses in year 9 but, overall, it’s not driving the bulk of the shift.


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