With the new requirements for Science at GCSE, introduced in 2007, all pupils who are capable now undertake Environmental Science at GCSE. This effectively offers a combined science qualification.
Last year saw the introduction of a second science GCSE, a modular science examination that does not rely on coursework, although there is a practical element in the examination. This examination has the advantage that any, or all, of the component modules may be re-taken to improve grades achieved on the first time of sitting the examination. From next year, it will also be possible to undertake the examination online.
All pupils currently are included in lessons, the pupils identified as being of higher ability than the norm follow the same general outlines for lessons as their peers, but will undertake more challenging requirements in set tasks and questioning. They are also expected to produce more in-depth responses to questions, tasks and practicals including far more independent research that takes into account the ‘real’ world and how the current task impinges on everyday life.
Baseline assessment is carried out in the first two weeks of starting at the school, generally incorporating literacy/numeracy levels and using data obtained from the testing at the end of the first unit taught.
Tracking of pupil’s progress is constantly undertaken by means of objectives set and completed and levels are adjusted accordingly.
This is not entirely reliable and thus levelling is achieved over a longer period (work set, unit tests, classroom responses) before it can be used as a satisfactory indicator – a pupil may do well in one particular aspect of the subject but struggle in another area and thus one indicator would imply a higher level than the other. Hence, an aggregation is the only reliable determination of academic levels.
Pupils making insufficient progress are identified by means of the tracking system and intervention steps are taken to remedy the situation. These range from withdrawal for additional literacy/numeracy if these are particular weaknesses, or targeted use of support staff in lessons and additional directed teaching for the individual concerned.