Teachers 'forced' to dictate pupils' coursework

4th May 2007 at 01:00
Teenagers allowed up to 10 rewrites

SCHOOL LEADERS desperate to improve results are forcing teachers to tell GCSE pupils what to write for coursework, according to claims in The TES online staffroom.

Some staff are told not to accept an assignment below a certain mark if the pupil completing it is predicted a grade C or above. Others are allowing teenagers up to 10 rewrites of their work.

The complaints are the latest in what has become an annual outcry over coursework rule-bending.

One maths teacher who had just completed in-school moderation of pupils'

coursework results complained that pupils had all been marked down on one section. This, the teacher said, was because the material had not been dictated to them correctly. The teacher admitted telling them what to write.

The teacher added: "If I just leave them to it, and mark whatever they submit ... my head of department says: 'I won't accept a piece of coursework less than (whatever marks) for a student with a C target'."

Another teacher said that her head of department was "willing to go to the end of the earth" to make sure her pupils achieved their targets.

Strategies used among heads of department included allowing pupils eight to 10 redrafts of coursework assignments, which were "marked thoroughly with full A4 pages of feedback handwritten".

Another teacher said the problems were now extending to sixth- form coursework.

"My A-level students expect to do a crude first draft which I will then 'sort out' and then have several more attempts, with me doing more work than them right along the line. We have departmental 'agreements' about how many lots of feedback (we should give), which I stick to rigidly.

"But I discover that other members of the department are giving extra help because their results will look bad if they allow the coursework to go in as the students present it."

Concerns about cheating by students, parents and teachers have led to the proposed scrapping of conventional coursework in many GCSE subjects. From September, maths GCSE will be coursework-free. In 2009 coursework will be replaced in nine GCSE subjects by supervised in-class tests. It will remain, however, in other subjects, including art and design, music and physical education.

Many A-level subjects are also retaining coursework.

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