Two terms, albeit short terms, into teaching the new specification I have had a chance to reflect on the positives and negatives of each specification. Just place this into the context I have been teaching optional OCR GCSE for five years and prior to that full course OCR GCSE for the whole cohort nine years.
Now back to the current situation I have one year 11 OCR GCSE class and one year 10 AQA GCSE class. I switched from OCR to AQA the several reasons including the extended question, as I just felt that my current students wouldn’t cope with a 15 mark question or the variation in exam structure between the examination papers.
Now to the nitty gritty, my current year elevens , an optional class of ten students, have largely loved the old OCR specification, they have engaged with some challeging lessons. They have grown in confidence with the examination structure, even the previously dreaded 12 mark essay style question. Mostly they have enjoyed the balance of P &E elements of the course.
Moving on to the year 10, an optional class of twelve students, have found the AQA specification I’m really hard going. In term one we studied the Beliefs and Teachings of Christianity, this had a very mixed response. Several students understood it was a proper academic study and really grasped the nettle so to speak, the remainder rolled their eyes and moaned continually. Now why did they choose the course if they were going to moan you may ask. Ah well you see those that moaned had chosen RS as a second or third choice and they really wanted to study Food Tech or something similar.
However in saying all of this once we swapped to Religion and Family for term two the attitudes started to improve. Why..it was ‘real life’ of course. They all know the course is RS with a sprinkling of P&E but I can’t change their attitudes. They want discussion and little writing. I guess they want an easy lesson and are scared of hard work.
Now I personally have found teaching all the new specification enjoyable. I have relished the challenge of a purer form of RS. I have however found it very hard to keep the students engaged. Indeed at times I have wanted to jack it all in.
So what about the future? If I’m brutality honest I do not see KS4 RS carrying on at my school but I will however not give up! I am ‘up for the challenge’. For at long last I see the full potential of my subject. Gone is the airy fairy, watered down version under the guise of P&E.
So as I reflect on term 1 and 2 despite my personal concerns and challenges I’m happy to see my subject come out of the shadows and stand on its own feet as the subject it was always meant to be.