Tuesday, February 17, 2015

What does new A Level mean to current students - those taking GCSE in June 2015 and June 2016.

The key changes to A level

    A levels will be fully linear, with students sitting their exams at the end of the two-year course. From January 2014, there is no longer a January assessment window. This change applies to current A levels as well as the new ones in development.

Basically it means as student you just have to get it right in Sixth Form (Y12 and Y13) if you have aspirations for that top university course.
    AS levels will be stand-alone qualifications and will no longer contribute to an A level grade. Their purpose will be to encourage curriculum breadth and they will remain broadly at their current standard. The AS level may be designed to be co-taught with the first year of the A level.
Well Cambridge says  - AS Levels are good for you.
Are the A-level reforms being rolled out across every subject at the same time?

There is a three-year roll-out plan with different subjects reforming at different times. If you're unsure as to how your subjects will be affected it's best to speak to your future sixth form or college.
Will I still be able to take four subjects at the start of year one?
Most sixth forms and colleges will only be funded for students to take three subjects.
( Couldn't verify this bit)
Is an AS level still the equivalent of 50% of an A-level?
No, the AS qualification will be worth 40% of an A-level. This means that when you
apply to uni under the new UCAS tariff an A-level A grade will be worth 48 points and the A grade in AS will be worth only 20.
Is an AS level still the equivalent of 50% of an A-level?

No, the AS qualification will be worth 40% of an A-level. This means that when you
apply to uni under the new UCAS tariff an A-level A grade will be worth 48 points and the A grade in AS will be worth only 20.
Can I still take AS exams if I want to do the A-level version?
Some sixth forms and colleges will be offering AS examinations at the end of the first year. This qualification is easier than an A-level and the grade you receive will count towards the UCAS points for your uni application. If you do well in your AS exam and decide that you would like to continue and study towards A-level, your achieved AS level will not count at all towards your A-level.
You’ve probably already decided on your where you’ll be studying after your GCSEs but now is the time to ask if AS examinations will be offered to students and how many.

Why should I check?

Not sure if all sixth for providers will offer AS Levels.
If I take an AS level exam but do really well and decide that I want to do the A-level will I be at a disadvantage at all?

Most AS and A-level courses are being designed to be “co-teachable” so that both groups of students will learn the same things in year one. The key difference is that those students who have opted for the A-level course will not be assessed at the end of year one.
If I don’t achieve my grades can I retake my A-level exams?
Because exams will no longer be modular it will be a lot harder to retake exams. We advise that you check the course specifications and ask your teacher.
How will it impact on my uni application?
Currently predicted grades for university applications are based on AS results. With AS exams now being phased out unis are very likely to focus more in future on GCSE results, their own testing systems and of course A-level predictions.
Will I be at a disadvantage if I don’t have AS grades on my uni application?
Only the University of Cambridge has commented that it strongly advises applicants to take AS exams while other universities have commented that students will neither be an advantage nor a disadvantage.
How do I show I’m a top student on my university application without a grade to prove it?


Excellent GCSEs are now not only a gateway to further education studies, they’ll now indicate to universities your aptitude and potential capability as an undergraduate.

Teacher reference
Undoubtedly the teacher reference will become even more important with teachers being encouraged to clearly indicate consistent and measurable improvements made by you in your studies from day one of your A-level course.

No Time to Fool around
Realistically this means that you can’t afford to slack off at the start, every day counts and although you won’t be assessed officially until the end of year two, your effort and performance will be consistently monitored.

Mock exams

Although mock exams are commonplace in schools and colleges, it's questionable how seriously some students take these.  It’ll be worth making the most of these opportunities as the results of these exams may be used to create your predicted grades which universities will want to see. They’ll also want to know that you’re performing consistently.




Monday, June 18, 2012

R's Eleven Plus Exam!

Believe it or not!

What has kept me for more than 6 months away is R's exams. 88 days to go! for the first exam!

We are not into final stages of preparation and its nerve racking!

Its really difficult to get a nine year old to sit down and focus for over an hour.

And its even more difficult to do it day after day!

I have gone through several times and made several iterations and try to focus on which exams we will do.

It has come down to two dates - Sep 15 and Sep 28th. She may do a few more but they are really not important!

For the next few days, I will keep updating what this involves.

While the target is to get 90% in every test, currently we average 50 to 70 % ?
Will we achieve it in 88 days?....only time will tell!

I always believed you can't give up on your own child!...So I am striving to ger her the best chance to get to a secondary school of her choice!

Wish me luck folks! and pray for us in this never ending journey of catch up!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Sleeping Beauty - Pantomime

Pantomime in Britain (usually called Panto) is a peculiarly British tradition of winter musical comedy theater. It has nothing to do with mime - silent performers in white-face make up walking into glass. British pantomime takes familiar fairy tales and children's stories - Cinderella, Aladdin, Dick Whittington and His Cat, Snow White - and injects a bit of music hall (British Vaudeville) sensibility, contemporary references and audience participation to create a raucous, noisy entertainment that's fun for everyone in the family.
A Very Old TraditionBritish pantomime has very deep roots, drawing on the 15th and 16th century traditions of Commedia del Arte for an assortment of stock characters and other conventions.

This pantomime is an initiative be St.Gertrude's Church in South Croydon.

The St Gertrude’s Theatre Company is a large community of like-minded people who love nothing more than to get together and perform. Our pantomime is staged every two years. The pantomime also gives the group the opportunity to make fun of themselves, sing and enjoy some great company. The successful productions try to support local charities.

I am making a brief attempt in explaining what went into a great show....

The people involved worked tirelessly and coordinated all activities seamlessly!

May 19th - Announcement of this year's pantomime!

With an announcement in May 19th for the upcoming pantomime, I spared no opportunity...and send both girls for auditions!

Auditions Flyer was distributed.

June 10th Auditions Started...

A picture of Tanya in one of the auditions!

June 30th ...The cast finalised!and the first pantomime read-through...the script was 70 pages!

July 30th - Deadlines for lines to be learnt!

Sep 5th - Back to Action...T decided to drop out because of her schedule which meant R had to continue alone....she would be the youngest!

Rehearsals and practice sessions every Sunday seemed to get longer.The adults were practising on Tuesdays and Thursdays too....

They started with 4 hrs sessions and the longest was 8 hrs...R took it all on the stride and never whined although she was  physically very tired.

Sep 30th...Flyers to promote the show was released....

So I faithfully tried telling all my friends around.....some of them looked as if  I was committing a crime .I knew it will be a great show..and some of my friends would never have gone to one of this quality!..........but the looks on the faces seemed to suggest why should we watch your daughter?Well R had just one tiny part in over three dozen members of the cast and it was indeed a fabulous show and great family entertainment!

Somewhere they lost the message that it will be  great family entertainment!

Yet about 5 families we knew did watch the show and wanted to give it a go....But the best quote during the show was a twelve year old who decided to come alone with us kept saying how she wished her parents had come along!And the ones who came along had a great evening!

The final two weeks posed the ultimate challenge.

The first week we have practice every other day ...that was ok as it was half term week...the sessions were from half past 6 to 10 in the evening as the adults had to be  back from work...The final week ...every day rehearsals and the Wednesday before the show....they actually finished rehearsals 2 minutes short of midnight!

The 4 shows were well attended by over 200 people in each...The crowd was really impressed with every show and said it had surpassed all their expectations...R said she was nervous before the first show after that she was so comfortable that it was not stressful....Each show lasted three hours .....and all in all she had a wonderful time.....She had finally clocked over 100 hrs just doing her little part for the Panto!

And we were really proud of what she had achieved....It was once in a life time experience.....to act with some West End actors and dancers.....and to have the confidence to mix with almost strange group of people for long periods of time but she did it!

Three cheer to R!....after all she is only 9....and the youngest of the cast members!

A few video links and the photos .The first and the last video are the best to watch...and they are about a minute each!


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Spain in 7 days

A very succinct account of our holiday in Spain.....
Its been over two months since we came back, it has taken me so long to write....so not a great travelogue which is what I originally intended but a few snippets that I can remember!

Spain Holiday – in 7 days….

Aug 26th 2011

We set out to Madrid….arriving at Madrid for a driving holiday. After our baggage the car rental process took much longer than expected. We first got a car which did not have a connector working for the SAT NAV system. The company had to finally change the car which took about an hour and we figure the SAT NAV we purchased for UK and Europe specifically for the trip did not function in Spain for some reason. Mind you we had tested it back in London and it would show us the way till Madrid across the seas! So we had to rent a SAT NAV which was in English so we lost out a good 3 hours in the process…

We drove to the hotel and managed to see Madrid by Cable car….It wasn’t as exciting as they described though it gave a very good view of the entire Madrid city.

We spent the evening at H20 mall one of the biggest as it was the closest to our hotel.

August 27th 2011

R turns 9

But T was very ill and we had to make a choice of leaving her at the hotel to recuperate. We knew she can’t take the walking we needed to do in the city.

We visited the Royal Palace – Madrid although we had to wait for an hour in the queue in the hot sun.

Very impressive and well worth the visit

Though I would advise taking http://www.madridcard.com/en/inicio as you could avoid all the queues. It was really worth the visit and one could spend a half day comfortably!

Prado Museum

Well worth a visit. We were very impressed. Had a spectacular range of paintings.

We really couldn’t do much as we had to come back and be with T and on our way back we lost our way  as the bus driver didn’t tell us where we should get down!

The metro trains and buses were excellent although most information was only in Spanish.

August 28th,2011

We went to El Escorial

A 16th century Royal Monastery. A must visit if you are visiting Madrid .We drove there on our way to Malaga our next destination.

August 29th,2011

We didn’t do much in Malaga other than go to nearby malls and a beach.

Regrettably I think we should have at least visited Picasso Museum.

Things we probably missed in Southern Spain

Casares - part of Malaga province, a working village with a population of ~ 4000, at a ht of ~1400 feet and ~14 km from the sunny costa del sol is a picturesque white village. A white village with real character; widely photographed picture post card village. The houses are all painted white and dotted like sugar-cubes on the slope of a hill. See it from the top or the bottom the view is fantastic!! The village is beneath a 12th century Moorish castle which currently lies in ruins but remains accessible. Views from the top are stunning. The white village on one side and windmills spread across the landscape with Rock of Gibraltar in the background on the other. As the history goes, Casares during the roman times was allowed to print its own coins. The above photo is view from below.

This is one place I think we should have driven to which I discovered subsequently.


Benalmadena Cable Car ....


In retrospect I think we missed these places due to lack of planning as we had a long drive and was keen to visit  Barcelona.

29th August ,2011


We spent a night at Alicante. Enjoyed the beaches .

We visited

The Castle of Santa Barbara:

The Castle of Santa Barbara is one of the biggest mediaeval fortresses of Spain that is located in the center of Alicante. This major landmark of the city stands on the top of Mount Benacantil, which offers the most fabulous views of the city. Whilst looking at the castle from El Postiguet beach, one can see an unusual projected part in the shape of a human face known as the Moor's Head.

San Juan Beach (La Playa de San Juan):

This premier sandy beach of the city is located around 4.5 miles from central Alicante. The long and open beach has been awarded the Blue Flag of the European Union. It is the perfect spot for sunbathing and swimming with a good selection of shops, bars, cafes, restaurants and water sports on the beach.

Aug 30th and Aug 31st,2011


We headed to Barcelona.

Had three days to look around the city.

Visiting Montserrat – We dorve down but had taken a wrong turn and went down a narrow lane up the rocky  mountains. It was truly scary and the SAT NAV for some reason kept taking us forward till we reached a point and decided to return to the highway. Every turn was almost like we will fall down a steep cliff.

El Corte Jingles – a great shopping chain

Sep 1st 2011

Aqua Brava – a great water park

Sep 2nd ,2011

We had to drive back from Barcelona to Madrid to catch our flight after driving through Spain for 3000 kms !
All in all I think we cover a fair bit of the main attractions with the time we had at our disposal!

Blogging and me

I admire people who regularly blog and always think they are epitome of self-discipline. I have struggled with it for the last 5 years and I really want to record events of my daily life as they have been amusing and challenging in so many aspects.

These four blogs listed below make me wonder “How do they manage?”

Self – Discipline and putting self before others is what I truly struggle with.

There is always something to do. With two daughters and almost single parenting as my better half is away about 3 weeks in a month.

I recently chatted with an old friend and we discussed our children to what all our friends …their plans, and what they were up to for holidays etc. and even some aspirations…like what our friends and family aspire to do…. and finally my friend asked me ….What are you doing?....I almost had no answer……well I have concluded I need to bring my daughters up to the best of my ability and thatsNo.1 priority. It’s a single agenda item for the next 2 years and may be till 2020!...Thats when R will go to University!
 If I am not pursuing a corporate career which I would have loved to then that’s the way forward. I have completed 7 years not being in full time employment and I can see the fruits of my endeavour in my children and as I always say Charity begins at home. But there is a lot to do and numerous things I wish I could get them to do in the limited time.
It’s not that I indulge in just watching every family opera on TV but it’s just that there is so much to do each day that I struggle every day and wonder where my time has gone .

With renewed efforts I am trying to get back to bloggin regularly again after almost 3 months....