KS3 students – as they look forward to the first full year of your GCSEs
For KS3 students, many of them are looking forward to subject selection, whereby they will be doing only certain subjects from Y10 and be able to drop some subjects they do not particularly enjoy studying.
A lot is being said about the importance of GCSEs, and many people interpret that to mean that the GCSE is a lot more demanding than KS3. GCSE is certainly the most important examination that the vast majority of 15 and 16-year-olds have had to face in their lives; however, I do not particularly deem it to be a lot more demanding and I’ll explain. The rigour and demand of it is just right for that age group and, also, they have two years to study it; particularly, given the fact that about 70% of schools now start GCSE in Y9 or even earlier. There are two other points to highlight that it is not that demanding:
- For those who can remember, Level 10 questions in the now abolished KS3 SATs were far more intellectually challenging than GCSE
- For many who are doing 13+ common entrance to grammar school or scholarship exams in independent schools, the demand of those papers is the level of thinking required for A-level. For Maths, for example, only the most able of Maths graduates will get the very top marks in those paper and most secondary school Maths teachers will not!
Going back to KS3 and GCSEs, the young person should look forward to GCSEs as an opportunity to learn and to shine. The exam at the end of it is just a way to demonstrate what they have learnt and bank a key achievement for the future
One key aspect, of which you as a parent should be aware, is the choice of EBacc – the English Baccalaureate – subjects and the importance of your child being put in the appropriate set in the subjects in which they are set. All children who are of about, or better than, average intelligence should be in the sets where they can sit the higher tier examinations for GCSE. If they are not, that decision has long-lasting ramifications that go beyond GCSE, into A-level, university entry and the rest of their lives, really. Another critical point is the EBacc stipulates that a good student should achieve high grades in English, Maths, two Science subjects, either History or Geography and a foreign language.
Please see the bottom of this blogpost for links to blogposts that are directed to address these vital points of Higher and Foundation tier and also EBacc.
A few tips and suggestions to parents in helping KS3 students to make decisions and guiding them along
A few tips of which parents of KS3 students ought to be aware:
- A sense of direction, including awareness of the GCSEs they need to do to pursue any future career they may need
- Your child should get into some sort of routine for studying, as this habit will be necessary for future levels – such as GCSE and A-level
- GCSE are important, but not to be panicked about. They are something to look forward to
- Keep an eye on tests and try to ensure your child is in a set that will allow them to achieve to the best of their ability at GCSE and beyond
- Keep speaking to your child – encouraging them and discussing key issues for them to focus on
EBacc blogpost – http://excelinkeysubjects.com/what-is-the-ebacc/
EBacc video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LEL992jSYOU