Information you must know about your Sixth Form child’s BTEC course
Your child is studying BTEC courses at Thomas Tallis. These courses are terrific and our students do superbly at them but the assessment requirements can trip students up.
Here are the risks are so that you can support your son or daughter in avoiding them.
Risk 1: Failing the BTEC Exam
Almost every BTEC subject now has at least one formal exam every year. Two retake opportunities are available for each exam. For Year 13 students, the retake opportunity may well be in the summer the year after they have left Tallis, preventing them from going on to university for a year. If a student fails the exam component they will usually fail the whole BTEC qualification, regardless of how well they have done in the other coursework components. Passing grades are: Near Pass (N), Pass (P), Merit (M) or Distinction (D). An ‘N’ grade can mean that a student’s overall grade is massively reduced, even if the other coursework components are at Merit or Distinction level.
We do not want our students to be in this position! We will therefore teach them effectively towards the exam each year, show them how to revise for examinations, and arrange suitable revision sessions. However, we cannot revise for your child: each BTEC student must be sure to put the right amount of time into exam preparation before each formal exam.
Risk 2: Plagiarism and copying work
BTEC courses are partially assessed through the submission of coursework. When writing coursework some students can be tempted to copy or plagiarise the words, ideas and work of others without acknowledgement. However it occurs, in whole or in part, deliberately or inadvertently, academic plagiarism is not acceptable at Tallis.
We are very clear with students from the beginning that they must not copy work. In addition, BTEC students sign a declaration as each piece of coursework is submitted that all the work submitted for the assignment is their own, so they are reminded each time.
Tallis has a ‘two strikes and you’re out’ policy about single instances of plagiarism and in more serious cases we will immediately permanently exclude students. We will do this mid-year if we have to.
We have explained this to your child. Please reinforce our policy about plagiarism to them so that there can be no confusion about it.
Risk 3: Coursework deadlines
We are required by the exam board, Pearson, to treat coursework deadlines like public examinations. Your child’s BTEC course has an Assessment Calendar which clearly lays out these deadlines. There is a link to this calendar on each BTEC’s subject’s page on this website, and deadlines for coursework are also set using Insight, our online homework software, as they come up. Please bookmark this calendar and discuss its dates with your child.
Missing a deadline for a ‘Core Unit’ means that your child is immediately at risk of failing their whole qualification. Missing a deadline for an ‘Optional Unit’ means that your child is immediately at risk of getting a much lower final grade. This is because late work cannot be resubmitted if it does not meet the passing standard. In contrast, if work is handed in on time but does not pass then students may make one further attempt.
In 2017-2018 three students had to leave Tallis immediately because they failed their BTEC course mid-year. We don’t want this to happen to your child.
How we manage deadlines
Tallis has a simple method to make sure all written work is handed in by deadline. All written work for Sport, Health and Social Care, Business, and ICT is handed in on paper at the Exams Office in Block 5. It is then time and date-stamped before being passed on to staff. The only exceptions to this rule are Art and Media BTEC courses – for these courses, completed work must be handed in to a senior member of staff. This has been explained to your child.
Asking for more time
We are allowed to authorise extensions to deadlines only if a student has a good reason such as a serious illness supported by medical evidence. Being ill on the day of the deadline does not count. To ask for more time, our online Extenuating Circumstances Form must be filled in before a deadline is reached.
More details of how BTEC courses work
- We can only give feedback on preparatory work, not assessment tasks.
- During ‘live’ assessment tasks we can only give general guidance and we are not permitted to confirm a grade a student is working at until a piece is handed in.
- BTEC subjects each have an online ‘Tracking Sheet’ about work handed in, showing whether it has passed, and so on. Ask your child to share this with you.
Course Leaders for each BTEC programme
Please contact the course leaders if you have more specific questions you want to ask.
Art & Design, Media: Ms Lemmer – firstname.lastname@example.org
Business: Mr Henderson – email@example.com
ICT: Ms Russell - firstname.lastname@example.org
Health & Social Care: Ms Goodrum – email@example.com
Sport: Mr Springall – firstname.lastname@example.org