Author Topic: Which GCSE spec is best?  (Read 1626 times)

LoopyLou

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Which GCSE spec is best?
« on: October 05, 2010, 07:48:04 PM »
Hi all,
Just wondered which GCSE spec do you do and what are the pros and cons associated with it?  I'm thinking of changing but not sure to what yet.  I currently do OCR B but after a very disappointing set of results I am having second thoughts.  Please post below and let me know what you think, I really want to gauge people's opinions on this.  Thanks for your time :)
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Blue Square Thing

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Re: Which GCSE spec is best?
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2010, 08:24:21 PM »
I think a lot depends on you and the sorts of kids you teach.

For me in my quite working class comp with a really wide ability range, I'd always have looked for a spec with relevent content (so, no rivers, farming (even in Suffolk) or too much glaciation - sorry, I know people love it all but to the sorts of kids I teach it's not all that interesting...) and as many pieces of CA as possible, preferably with the option of being able to do something none written if possible. Modular exams for flexibility would be high up my list as well.

From that perspective it would be one of the sexier specs rather than the more trad ones.

After that I think you have to do what you've done - try something and see. Within the range I've set myself, I'd have prolly opted for either OCR A, AQA B or Avery Hill (WJEC whatever) - it's not a decision that's relevant to me anymore fwiw. I have a prejudice based on an extremely bad experience against Edexcel at GCSE geography so it wouldn't have been close to being them. Fwiw I think any of those specs have good and bad things about them but I could prolly have lived with any of them. I may well have chosen Avery Hill for old times sake, although I can't remember if it has coasts and tourism as options, which are crucial to us as we live on a touristy coastal area...

Sorry - that doesn't answer your question I know, but I think you need to narrow down the range you're interested in first. If you want a trad spec then you won't be wanting any of the ones I've checked up there, for example.
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LoopyLou

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Re: Which GCSE spec is best?
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2010, 08:35:39 PM »
Thanks for your thorough answer.  I too work in a very working class comp with results way below the national average.  We have been told to 'raise our game' so I am willing to try something new.  I also would prefer more controlled assessment but all the specs are the same at 25% and I like the idea of more modules so more opportunity to retake.  Thanks for your advice and taking the time to reply :)
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Stephen Schwab

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Re: Which GCSE spec is best?
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2010, 08:37:19 PM »
Look into the support offered by the Board, its hard to beat Edexcel I've found.
I'm not sure about sexy or trad, they are such subjective terms.
Only you can decide its a buyers market so speak to the Subject Officers and see who speaks your language.
Good luck.
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Blue Square Thing

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Re: Which GCSE spec is best?
« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2010, 08:42:20 PM »
Thanks for your thorough answer.  I too work in a very working class comp with results way below the national average.  We have been told to 'raise our game' so I am willing to try something new.  I also would prefer more controlled assessment but all the specs are the same at 25% and I like the idea of more modules so more opportunity to retake.  Thanks for your advice and taking the time to reply :)

In terms of the CA I mean that I'd prefer to have 2 or more pieces make up the 25% - one piece, especially based on a fieldwork write up, is a bit hit or miss for my liking and something the kids might struggle to get their heads around and do well. Shorter bits = more focussed imo.

Lots of past papers out there now - AQA B would have at least 4 papers available now for example, not sure about OCR or WJEC. Worth taking a look - AQA ones are in the eAQA secure but, but your exams officer should be able to get you a log in to any of the secure bits to get papers.
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HB100

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Re: Which GCSE spec is best?
« Reply #5 on: October 05, 2010, 09:06:13 PM »
The content of WJEC is crippling the kids in my opinion. However the support from WJEC is outstanding - again, in my experience.

I am moving to Edexcel A due to flexibility and less content.  Worth a look   :)

kevincooper777

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Re: Which GCSE spec is best?
« Reply #6 on: October 05, 2010, 09:31:07 PM »
I have decided to go with Edexcel B rather than OCR A despite setting up the ning for OCR A and marking a paper this summer - but that is because OCR A didn't suit my new school / kids.

I would thoroughly recommend OCR A for your scenario - though I felt the F-level paper I was involved with this summer was marked too harshly.  The 'Similarities and Differences' unit is excellent for those students who would be turned off by 'traditional' concept-heavy geography - it's more about 'personal geographies' - I read some thoughtful, insightful (even moving) answers from students clearly living in tough areas of Birmingham and East London, who had been switched on by the Spec (and their wonderful teachers of course!).

The 'Extreme Environments' paper does contain some 'traditional' geomorphology, however.

A drawback for me was the lack of a January module - just so happened that I was looking for this to avoid clashes with Science modules (which would mean v little revision from most of them!)

Stephen Schwab

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Re: Which GCSE spec is best?
« Reply #7 on: October 06, 2010, 07:50:20 AM »
In terms of CA i know my students have completed one and dont want /need to do another.
Its about our CA and then all the others flying at them too from other subject areas.
One done well is my students fedback option that i share here.
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LoopyLou

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Re: Which GCSE spec is best?
« Reply #8 on: October 06, 2010, 05:30:15 PM »
Thank you all for taking the time to reply.  Anymore feedback from anyone???  Don't be shy :)
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