Gambling with futures

Yesterday’s letter has me wondering whether I’m doing the best thing for my students. The full letter is here but the paragraph I’m interested in is this one

“Under the new system, a grade 4 and above will be equivalent to a C and above. This isand will remainthe level that pupils must achieve in order not to be required to continue studying English and maths post 16. Therefore, a GCSE pass at new grade 4 will continue to have real currency for individual pupils as they progress to further study and employment. Where employers, FE providers and universities currently accept a grade C we would expect them to continue recognising a grade 4.”

That’s a change from the previous idea that students with a 4 wouldn’t need to resit in the first 2 years but would after that. I’m pretty skeptical about whether this will remain the policy long term but it is sending out a clear message right now. I have lots of questions about it but my main concern right now is what is best for my final year students who have applied to university this year. A C is recommended but Universities can, and I think many will in future, ask for higher than a 4 just like currently some require higher than a C. This year at least though a 4 could be the magic number.

We are currently doing the old spec and trying to help students get to a C. In theory though would a 4 be a bit lower and therefore easier to get? There’s been some reassurances and information about how grading will work but it’s all about schools. What will happen about those doing it post 16? I’m not sure there are many doing it but I definitely know of it happening. I have no idea how you’d go about standardising that!

What advice should I be giving to a student who has applied to university this year? The style of questions is different and there’s the extra content to consider. I just have a niggling voice at the back of my head saying “What if…?” Next week I’m looking at giving final year students a chance to try a new spec paper and see how they feel because at the end of the day it’s their futures we’re gambling with.