Ofqual: Recruitment of Key Stage 2 subject experts

A colleague brought to my attention to the following advertisement from Ofqual:

“Recruitment of Key Stage 2 subject experts

[…] We are keen to hear from you if you feel you have a suitable level of experience in Key Stage 2 education and assessment, specifically in reading, writing, mathematics or science. You might be a current or ex-teacher or marker, or have other relevant experience in developing or delivering Key Stage 2 assessments. […]”

He has also raised his concerns:

“I have a gut feeling that any set of minimal requirements for “Key Stage 2 subject experts” invited to  work on “developing Key Stage 2 assessments” should include (at least in case of mathematics) some experience of teaching and assessment not only at KS2, but also at KS3 level. For otherwise how can they ensure the continuity and cohesion of pupils’ study?”

My opinion is that there are few people who will have the necessary experience of both KS2 and KS3 teaching experience and assessment development. They are more likely to find people with the KS2 experience only – of course KS3 experience as well would be a bonus, but most people (I should probably say teachers here) are primary or secondary, not both. People in middle schools (ages 9-13) would have bridged the KS2/3 divide, but perhaps would not have seen the curriculum through to the end of KS3. I think that if they stipulated the KS2/3 requirement then they would be faced with a dearth of applicants!

I was always amazed that pupils who came into secondary education with level 5 mathematics at KS2 never really seemed to have a grasp of the topics at that level – even many of those with level 4 struggled with level 4 in KS3. Now this could have been the 6  week lay-off they had over the summer, or the fact that they had been crammed for the KS2 mathematics SAT tests to get the best results for their primary school data. However there seemed to be little correlation between the algebra at level 5 which was tested at KS2 and the algebra at level 5 for KS3, the latter always seemingly the harder. Unfortunately I do not have any hard data to back up my opinion – it is just a gut reaction. One has to believe in the integrity of the powers that oversee these tests (QCA, QCDA, Ofqual or whatever) and that continuity did and will take place.

Early entry at GCSE

Have a look at a scan of the article that appeared in the Times Educational Supplement of 25 November last year.

Early entry at GCSE

Early entry at GCSE (Times Education Supplement 25 November 2011)

The worrying trend is that the % of GCSE A* grades is falling with early entry.

I am aware of schools that enter students early to ‘get it out of the way’.

Pupils get a C or better then do little or no mathematics in Year11.

What worries me is that some pupils may not then pick up the mathematics in Year 12 since some of the fire and passion for mathematics has gone out without having done much for a year. There is also a worry that pupils who would achieve an A* if they did GCSE Mathematics in Y11 may get an A or B at early entry and be content with that without realising (and I may be wrong in assuming this, so please correct me if I am wrong) that universities look at GCSE results as well when making offers. This could mean that entry to university courses in great demand is denied to those who do not achieve top grades at GCSE and pupils may not be aware of this.

Does a message about this need to be disseminated to schools? parents? pupils?