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David Wilson

Member Since 02 May 2004
Offline Last Active Aug 13 2008 07:21 AM

Topics I've Started

Relative difficulty of subjects at GCSE

30 August 2006 - 07:50 AM

On the TES Forum, a poster drew my attention to an interesting statistical analysis of the relative difficulty of school subjects when they are examined at GCSE level:


This topic seems timely as the annual debate goes on about what constitutes a "hard" and a "soft" subject. The traditional universities seem to favour the former, while even brighter school students are increasingly choosing to play safe with the latter at KS4 option time. I'm particularly concerned about the way this trend is impinging on continuation rates for MFL.

The document comes from the Durham University CEM stable, the people who devised MidYis and YELLIS tests to provide schools with baseline assessments of the literacy, numeracy and non-verbal skills of their Year 7 and Year 10 pupils, to predict their likely GCSE grades over a range of subjects, and more controversially, to supply evidence of pupils' under-, over- and in-line achievement for individual teachers' performance management.

Anyway, the document seems to confirm what we all surmised, that Latin is the hardest subject, followed by single sciences and modern foreign languages. The "usual suspects", e.g. PE and Media Studies, do indeed appear to be the easiest options when aspiring for higher GCSE grades.

There are regular postings on TES Forum from teachers of so-called "soft" subjects, protesting that it's really much harder to get an "A" in the likes of Media Studies than it is in English Literature. As a curmudgeonly educational traditionalist, I'm having none of it! What do others think?

David Wilson

Abbreviations relating to educational inclusion in England

17 June 2006 - 03:41 PM

Last weekend, on another forum, a contributor complained about the plethora of unexpanded abbreviations and acronyms used in educational inclusion in general and special educational needs in particular. I enjoy problem-solving and did some research on existing abbreviations lists, compiled by national government, local authorities and support organisations. No list seemed definitive, or regularly kept up to date, so I decided to compile my own. It's already been welcomed by two online forums dedicated to SEN, so I thought I'd draw colleagues' attention to its existence here. I am sure there are plenty of omissions and there may be many corrections needed too - please feel free to comment and suggest additions. The terms relate to England only at the moment, but at some future date I will be adding terms from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, then abbreviations from continental Europe.


I do so hope to get some feedback here about this document. It saddens me how contributions about special educational needs go for months without a response. Countries are often judged by the way they treat their vulnerable minorities. Since the passing of the Salamanca Agreement and disability legislation in developed countries, education systems are also rightly judged by the way they serve those with individual learning needs, such as the gifted and talented, those who speak English as an Additional Language or those with special educational needs.

David Wilson

Inclusion of a child with Autistic Spectrum Disorders

04 December 2005 - 01:40 PM

This newspaper story has attracted many comments:


I'm hoping for a few comments here as well...

The article has all the usual features of a local special educational needs/special educational provision mismatch with the local education authority emerging as the evil ogre. I wonder, though, whether there are lessons to be learnt beyond the knee-jerk "if funds were released, everything would be fine" response?

After all, would the public at large be prepared to pay the higher taxes required to fund an educational service where every child with individual learning needs could have a choice of one-to-one support in mainstream or a special school placement?

And is there enough guidance for teachers, especially those in mainstream, about meeting the needs of their students with ASD? My impression is that the ASD advice online and in print has little to say about teaching and learning, which is what schools are there for. Therapy rather than education is the focus of such literature. Isn't it time to treat the child with ASD as a learner, not just a patient?

What do you think?