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Is History the hardest GCSE?


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#1 james65

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Posted 12 December 2010 - 06:19 PM

On a monthly basis I am being asked by my line manager for the predicted grades for my Y11s. When some of these are below their computer generated predicted targets I struggle to explain why. Whilst I am, like the rest of us, doing everything I can to raise grades, looking at other subjects I just want to shout out that History is harder! One of my students, for example, started six months into Y10, has poor literacy, and is "predicted" a C! Science tell me they can squeeze one out of him because they only need to write short answers to get a C! As Head of Humanities I KNOW that Geography is easier! But is there any hard, independent evidence out there that confirms that History is indeed "harder"? I know this was a thread a few years ago, but thought there might be something more solid out there with which I can now argue my case with SLT a little more.

#2 Hannah W.

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Posted 12 December 2010 - 09:37 PM

It feels like it is, but I have not seen any evidence to prove it! Although it is frustrating having their results compared to their results in other subjects. I would say Maths is still pretty difficult though...
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#3 Nick

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Posted 12 December 2010 - 10:30 PM

I imagine someone out there can find something on this.

I know that quite often the ALIS predicted grades at A level are a notch or two down on some other subjects which must say something.

Clearly the reason why many academies ditch History for things like Media Studies and Humanities is because it's easier to get higher grades in those than in GCSE History which requires a higher level of literacy/comprehension skills, not to mention a massive bulk of knowledge to learn over 2 years that modular courses don't have. That's also why languages are sinking. It's all about the drive to get more higher GCSE grades on the league table.

The Russell Group decided several years ago that there were 5 more academic subjects than some other A levels: Sciences, Maths, Eng Lit, Languages and you guessed it - History. I think they also published a list of about 25 soft subjects!!

If you ask students and do a survey/questionnaire most will put History among the most difficult.

Not particularly scientific - sorry - but pretty convincing when added together.

#4 RachL

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Posted 13 December 2010 - 03:03 PM

I have always felt that the lackof a tiered paper sets History apart. Those 'just a C' candidates find managing the paper an extra hurdle, a hurdle which in many other subjects is much lower, because they have the support of Foundation tier paper. They are able to pull the C out of the bag because they have some simpler explanation/guidance/pointers - in History they are presented with the same paper as an A* candidate. This is only going to work in comparison (ie for stats driven Head and deputies) to other papers with no tiering (are there any others?) otherwise it is simply not a level playing field to compare teachers/results on.



#5 j hewson

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Posted 13 December 2010 - 07:33 PM

I have always felt that the tiered paper idea was valid, but if you look at what most of the examination boards have in terms of mark schemes, there is scope in there for weaker pupils to pick up marks and plenty of scope for the more able to excel. Having said that, I would agree with anyone who would state that history is one of the tougher GCSE papers. I often wonder whether people who judge the subject at senior levels in school have looked at a GCSE history paper and put that next to a Geography or Child Development GCSE (never mind BTEC!) and ask themselves which one is the toughest?

#6 Nick

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Posted 13 December 2010 - 07:54 PM

I take the point about tiered papers but what is bugging me now is that in our place several subjects are modular (and their results have improved) while we are not allowed to go modular in case it affects the results in Science, Maths and RE (the main modular ones). We are a Science/Maths specialist college and a RC school so there is logic in there somewhere but you cannot seriously compare loaves with fishes as Rachel says above.

#7 Ms Ali

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Posted 13 December 2010 - 08:50 PM

I take the point about tiered papers but what is bugging me now is that in our place several subjects are modular (and their results have improved) while we are not allowed to go modular in case it affects the results in Science, Maths and RE (the main modular ones). We are a Science/Maths specialist college and a RC school so there is logic in there somewhere but you cannot seriously compare loaves with fishes as Rachel says above.


Attached: this is a dense read, but I have been taking comfort in it (for the last three years), that History is indeed harder than certain other subjects.

Attached Files



#8 Jim Belben

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 09:53 AM

This is a very relevant thread to the discussions about the merits and demerits of proposals for the English Bacc. See http://ow.ly/3oNDn. If more and more students are expected to take History or Geography then all the specs need looking at in the light of this.

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#9 Maggie Smith

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Posted 02 January 2011 - 12:39 PM

Like an earlier post says people do not see that History is a difficult GCSE. When my results are compared to other subjects, I get cross. :curse:

Every August we see 7years olds receiving good grades in subjects like Maths or ICT - never History! There is a reason for that!! :idea:
This is a demanding subject!

I wonder how many data managers are not scientists or mathematicians? They can deal with data, targets and predicted grades, not people!

I understand the need for predictions, but remember we are trying to predict the actions of 16 year olds!

We have now gone modular and hope this will lighten the revision load.




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