As a parent of a Thomas Telford pupil, I would like to point out a few facts.
Yes, all pupils at Thomas Telford currently have to take the intermdiate GNVQ IT. The amount of work my daughter had to put into to this made it easily worth at least three GCSEs- two exam papers with related coursework for each ( each involving as much work as a separate science GCSE), plus four further coursework modules, although I would concede four GCSE equivalents maybe pushing it. It has, however, been of immense use (completed in Year 10) as a practical IT background aiding her in all her other subjects.
All pupils at Thomas Telford have to take Business Studies, a modern language, a technology subject, and a physical activity subject at GCSE in addition to the usual maths, english and sciences. Cake decoration/hairdressing and the like are not taught. For the last two years all pupils have achieved at least 10 GCSE equivalents, so the GNVQ IT does not prop up the 100% league table position. It is a meritous qualification for academic pupils (of which my daughter is one), as well.
Lessons at the school run from 8:30 to 16:00, and from Year 9 to Year 11 my daughter also had two lessons a week from 16:20 to 17:40. She had normal (two or three hours a night) homework each night on top of this. There is a 20 minute breakfast break, and 40 minute lunch break (unless it is raining, when this is reduced to 20 minutes only). No moving classes every 45 minutes- she often has only two subjects per day, lasting half a day each. So you see, sour grapes are not necessarily well founded- these kids put in more work than most state comprehensive, or even grammar, school kids.
Whatever anyone may say, Thomas Telford intake is a comprehensive as it can be- audited as representative of those applying. About 90% stay on into the sixth form, which is why, with such a cross-ability sixth form, its position in A level tables is not great.
However, these new GCSE tables fail in their original purpose- to inform parents. By lumping vocational and academic qualifications together, how can any parent tell if a school is right for the talents or preferences of their individual child. I agree, the tables are too crude as to be ridiclulus.
(and if you want your child to get great GCSE results, but have no time for a normal childhood, you too may have concerns about chosing Thomas Telford, but don't try and say the stats are 'fiddled' by anything other than pure graft).
Why doesn't Tony Blair just drop a bomb on each independent school?
Despite the fact that he was educated at one, he seems obsessed with bringing them down.
My school shouldn't have let the 10 or so dumbarses in. We'd have pushed into the top 10 without them.
I would like to point out one thing, for some people, doing 9 GCSEs is just impossible or indeed doing 5 GCSEs.
My dad works at a small private dyslexia school and introduced the Thomas Telford GNVQ ICT as well as GNVQ liesure and tourism, which are very heavily coursework oriented which is much better for the students than having to sit a lot of exams.
Now, you are going to ask me how I know what is in the best interests of the children taking the qualification, but having been a reader (and writer once) for a couple of the children in exams (both GNVQ and GCSE maths) and have seen first hand how hard exams are for them.
Now, although you are correct, GNVQ ICT and liesure and tourism is not going to help them get someone a job, but what it will do is enable them to get into college and specialise into something that will be useful for them.