Sunday, 19 April 2015

The need for entry level

There has been a lot of talk of late about the demise of entry level, which has been mooted but not decided upon. As someone who teaches entry level science a lot, here's a few thoughts on the matter (biased towards entry level science... naturally).

Firstly, what entry level isn't. It is not an alternative to GCSE, it doesn't carry nearly the same weight and is not nearly as rigorous in either it's content or development of scientific thinking. Personally, I view entry level as something to be taught alongside GCSE if there is a chance that pupils will not complete the GCSE course.

What entry level is, however, is a great safety net! My pupils come from unstable backgrounds and quite often school is the only consistent point of contact. Therefore, as teachers, we need to make the most of their time with us and make sure they have something to show for their work developing their subject knowledge and understanding by the close of year 11 or year 10, depending on whether pupils are moving out of area or returning to mainstream.

The drip drip of entry level assessments, married up to the appropriate place in the GCSE course, means that most pupils will have achieved a bronze qualification, if not a silver by the end of year 10. When this happens, entry level has done its job in science.

At some point I will blog about the need for entry level in computing, but that's for another time.

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