Day 48 – A Year 9 Pupil Speaks

SMS received an email with some eloquently expressed opinions from a Year 9 pupil. We have extracted parts of the email to represent their views but protect their identity.

“At the start of year 9 and still now, we are covering work we’ve already done in year 8. These lessons are French, Geography and others and even in science even though we are meant to be doing GCSE work. This easily makes up your mind not to choose these subjects for GCSE.”

“I don’t have fun any more in lessons like I did in middle school, apart from the teachers who used to teach in middle school. I don’t want 2 important years to be ruined or boring when I actually need to be learning in a fun way. Why is it that middle school teachers made learning fun yet my upper school teachers think that fun lessons are giving out a text book and saying do this page?”

“I didn’t need the amount of time to decide what GCSEs I chose that is being said that I need. After all in years 7 and 8 we would be doing key stage 3 work wouldn’t we, not planning for our GCSE work? I chose the options that I found interesting and enjoyable. I don’t know what I want to do when I leave school so I chose options that I might do well in.”

“Lots of my friends that were lovely at middle school have changed and are acting more grown up than they are. This has caused many more falling outs than in middle school. At middle school our teachers would help us deal with these things. At upper school we are often left to deal with it by ourselves. An 11 year old shouldn’t feel that they have to suddenly grow up and lose out on being a child. And who would look after them if problems happen?”

“At my school I haven’t been asked what my view is on the 2 tier system even though teachers and even my head teacher has said that they have asked all the pupils their views. I would like to have the opportunity to say what I think about it. I believe that there is really no point in changing it to 2 tier, as I felt happy and safe at middle school.”

“If my teachers at upper actually taught us in year 9 rather than just going over year 8 work then GCSE results might actually go up and be better.”

“Closing down schools that cost a lot of money to build would be a waste of money. And in a recession there would be lots of complaints.”

That says it all really…

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5 Responses to Day 48 – A Year 9 Pupil Speaks

  1. Lee T says:

    Here, Here!

    I myself went through the excellent and outstanding Three Tier system we have here in Bedford, and can still remember making my GCSE choices (I am 21 now)

    Although I did give some thought to what I might like to do when I left school, to be honest I had no real idea and so I chose the subjects which had interested and challenged me up until that point i.e. the ones I that didn\’t bore me!

    After GCSEs I went onto A-Levels which once again I mainly based on what I enjoyed and what challenged me. I am now gainfully employed and in the process of completing a modern apprenticeship.

    I also agree that the excellent and outstanding Three Tier system allows children TO BE children for longer, in many ways I was shocked at the difference in some of my peers when I started Year 9. To think that in a Two-Tier system this \”change\” happens two years earlier is very sad!

    In all their arguments the Borough Council has focused on the academic achievement and standards in the Borough, and while I agree this is VERY important, I wonder if their graphs and charts would look so damming if they were to look at the social and personal development aspects of children in the Borough against our Statistical Neighbours.

    There is more to schooling then qualifications!

  2. Alex Monaghan says:

    Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings …!

    I can\’t comment on teaching in upper schools, but I do know that some middle schools are well ahead of the game in teaching at KS3, so I am not surprised that they have covered year 9 work. This is why it is important to manage transitions, and why the \”transition dip\” occurs while pupils are re-adjusting.

    In my experience (as a parent and a governor) of the lower-middle transition and the middle-upper transition, there is far too much territorial posturing and not enough co-operation between schools. This will not be changed simply by a move to 2-tier. In fact, the transition from many primary schools to one upper scholl will probably be much more demanding than the current gentler transitions.

    Surely this is one area which should be targeted by the £340m of BSF funding: improve the CURRENT system, particularly the transitions! There is plenty of room for improvement. It\’s interesting that schools have been galvanised into co-operation by the proposal to change the system – joint appointments, collaborative teaching, and much more communication have all been mentioned by teachers at the \”consultation\” evenings. WHY WAS THIS NOT HAPPENING BEFORE? As one parent said at Harrowden Middle, if we can do all this surely that would bring the improvements we need WITHOUT WRECKING THE SYSTEM!

    Of course, some schools already do much of this very well, but there seems to be no pressure from above to co-operate within the existing pyramids. It\’s time we spent some Council time and money on improving the existing 3-tier system, spreading good practice, and solving problems, instead of disrupting a whole generation of children. If it\’s broke, Mr Mayor, then fix it: don\’t trow it away! Schools are not toasters, to be discarded and replaced – unless you are prepared to burn a lot of children in the process!!

  3. sarah k says:

    I have felt for a while that this point about GCSE options at upper school was a red herring. My nephews had to choose their options. There were 5 core subjects that they had to do at GCSE, so they actually were only choosing 4 subjects. They said “We know the difference between Geography and Art.” Additionally, they were choosing the subject, not the member of staff who would teach them.

  4. JamesD says:

    Professor Maurice Galton of Cambridge University in his review of Suffolk in 2006 indicated that delaying the move from elementary school, ie at 13 instead of 11 years old helps to reduce dips in performance on transfer. He also showed that when changing schools at 13 there was less of a case for arguing that dips were cumulative and that pupils attending a 3-Tier system were permanently disadvantaged.
    Have the Council Officers even bothered to read the available PUBLISHED, PEER REVIEWED, literature?

  5. KDev says:

    Anyone else having their questions rejected by the Bedford Borough server when you sent them to schoolorganisationconsultation@bedford.gov.uk?
    Or am I getting paranoid?

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