02 May Academic Update – 3rd May 2019
Dear Parents and Carers,
Firstly, please see the exams timetables for Summer 2019 below. They are on the website and all students involved will have received a personal email with their exam details. Please follow the appropriate link.
Secondly, many thanks for your attendance at the recent Learning Coach Consultation Day. With the GCSE and A-Level exam season just around the corner, the information in this fortnight’s Academic Update is broken down into year group-specific sections to help you understand the progress checks and very different challenges the students face over the next two months.
Year 7/8 – 3Cert awards and student progress
So that you are clear on the system of assessment used in key stage 3 at Chelsea Academy, the information below may be of some help:
- Students are assessed continuously on sets of ‘I can statements’ (also known as curriculum constructs) through classwork, Independent Learning and end of unit exams.
- Depending on the understanding they show, students are deemed to be either ‘not yet achieving’, ‘emerging’, ‘developing’ or ‘mastering’ in each statement
- All of these scores are entered onto spreadsheets by the Year 7 teachers on an ongoing basis, so that every time a student is credited with progress in one of the statements, it moves them closer to their next certificate.
- Certificates are awarded when students have reached certain milestones based on the I Can statements and in the following order: carbon, bronze, silver, gold, platinum, diamond. If no certificate is shown next to a subject, it means the student is working towards carbon in that area.
- If students wish to know how far away they are from achieving their next certificate, they should ask their teachers, then focus on the subject-specific targets they are given, as well as look at the action points they are given in their exercise books. Remember, certificates can be awarded at any stage of the year, not just the end of term, so it is always worth them stretching themselves on every piece of work.
Year 8 – option choices and academic focus for this term
It has been a real pleasure for us to interview all of the Year 8 students and parents/carers during the LCCD. Students have come across as excited, mature and reflective, and have certainly given us the impression that they are taking the prospect of starting their GCSE courses in September very seriously. My strong advice to students at this stage would be that wherever they have chosen one of their current subjects as a GCSE course, they should increase their efforts and aim for as high an exam mark in June as possible, so that they are as prepared as they can be for September’s step up in level. Equally, they should constantly strive to improve the level in all other subjects including English, Maths and Science as these will all still have a significant impact on their learning, development and final Key Stage 3 Certificate of Education at Chelsea Academy.
Final option selections will be shared with students before the end of half term. Whilst we aim to give everyone their first choice, do bear in mind that this is not always possible. Where this is the case, we will let you know directly.
Years 9 and 10
For those parents of students who are new to Year 9 and 10, I thought it would be useful to re-clarify how the grading system works:
- Grades are awarded from 1-9.
- Grade 4 is deemed to be a ‘standard pass’, and is the equivalent of the bottom two thirds of the current C grade.
- Grade 5 is deemed to be a ‘strong pass’ and is the equivalent of the top third of the current C grade and the bottom third of the current B grade.
- Grade 9 is not the same as A*. It is a new grade, designed to recognise the very highest performing students, so there will be fewer grade 9s than there are currently A*s, (typically, fewer than 5% of entries).
- The overall message seems to be that the difficulty of the courses have increased and it is more challenging to achieve the top grades on these exam papers. Our initial experiences of the 9-1 GCSEs suggest that whilst this is the case, students at Chelsea Academy are performing equally as well if not better than the old qualifications and a large number of schools nationally. This is due to the extensive planning that has taken place and the expertise in our teaching staff.
Year 10 – RE GCSE
Most importantly, the full GCSE RE exams are on Monday 14th and Wednesday 16th May. There has been a number of intervention classes, revision classes, drop down days and other initiatives to support the students to achieve well, such as free revision guides. Additionally, there will be a breakfast club on the mornings of each exam, where students can come into the Academy from 8am, have a free breakfast, and revise with their teachers and peers.
We have entered students for this exam in Year 10 over the past three years, because it enables the cohort to focus on their RE GCSE and also takes some of the pressures away from Year 11 when there are a number of exams being sat. Therefore, students should be allocating their time after school to RE revision and using this opportunity to gain a headstart into their final year of key stage 4.
Please can we ask for all revision guides to be given back to the school after the exam so that we can use them for next years cohort!
Make sure you are fully aware of your child’s exam timetable, which will have been emailed to them, so you can ensure that they have a clear and manageable revision plan in place, prioritising the right subjects at the right time. We will be supporting the students in the following ways:
- After school intervention and some weekend lessons (you will be contacted individually with details of any weekend classes).
- Half-term revision classes.
- Breakfast club on the mornings of each exam
- Pre-exam revision classes after half-term, with a completely re-written Year 11 timetable.
- They have already been issued with free revision guides for every subject, so you should be seeing these very much in use right now.
- The use of GCSEPOD, SAM Learning, Tassomai & Hegarty Maths to support their work outside of school.
Most teenagers admit that the most distracting thing above all is their mobile phone, so ask your son / daughter to hand you their phone at the start of each revision session. Once they have explained what they have learned at the end of their session, it will feel like a reward for them getting their phone back!
Exactly the same applies to Sixth Form parents as it does to Year 11 regarding organisation – make sure you are fully aware of your child’s exam timetable, which will have been emailed to them, so you can ensure that they have a clear and manageable revision plan in place, prioritising the right subjects at the right time.
At this stage, however, unlike in Year 11, it is actually less about what the teachers are doing and much more about what the students are doing to prepare for the exams. Such is the demand for independent study at A-Level, the teachers are really guides at this stage in the year, pointing students towards their strengths and areas for improvement and providing them with the resources and strategies to prepare for the exams:
- One particular resource some courses have used to very good effect is called ‘My PLC’, where students are able to diagnose their progress in every area of their chosen A-Level courses. All students can sign up to this free of charge if they see Mrs Holgate for details.
- Having a very clear picture of the marks they already have, and therefore the marks they need in each exam to achieve their desired grade and above is very helpful. This helps students to figure out exactly where they need to focus their efforts to pick up the marks they need.
- When you complete past papers, send them to your teachers to mark so that you can continue to act on feedback given right up to the exam days.
I hope this Academic update is informative and useful and as always, if you need any support or advice about academic studies at Chelsea Academy, please do not hesitate to get in contact with me.
Acting Vice Principal – Curriculum