Aim: To improve the mathematical confidence and understanding of students through the use of web-based pre-teaching which enables teachers to deliver a deeper, knowledge-rich curriculum.
Background: In September 2011, the Pimlico Maths department’s GCSE A*-C results were hovering between 60–70% and the department was keen to improve on this. Teaching in the department tended to be more traditional and schemes of work were just lists of objectives. The department had undergone a significant restructure and task-based roles had been created (e.g. intervention, assessment, teaching and learning, gifted and talented).
Year 1: The schemes of work were linked with rich task resources. Significant improvements were made to the assessment model to expose learners to more demanding types of questions. Informal feedback from Year 11 students about these resources was positive.
Year 2: MathsWatch via the website mathswatch.co.uk was introduced to all students as a resource to support their studies in their own time.
Extracurricular enrichment included:
- introduction of TTRockStars for lower sets to focus on numeracy
- hosting both the Year 10 Maths Feast and Year 8/9 Team Maths Challenge
- several trips for Post-16 students
- a lecture by author and broadcaster Alex Bellos to our most able students
Year 3: It was felt that the majority of students were confident in lessons and the focus became further challenge, incorporating more group work and investigative tasks to support the introduction of the new GCSE. The decision was also made to adopt the Maths Mastery curriculum in Year 7. A wider spectrum of extra-curricular activities was offered including chess club and Countdown competitions, which created a lovely buzz about the subject around the school.
Evidence: Lesson observation feedback, student and teacher surveys, MyMaths/Maths Watch logs
Impact: The increase in opportunities for students to learn independently was evident during the run up to exams, where students were seen using resources to inform their revision and identify their weaknesses. Year 13 students became less reliant on teacher-led intervention and observations of the department demonstrated more use of enrichment tasks in lessons. This had a direct impact on observation grades, which in the first year were a mixture of grade 2s and 3s, while by the third year the highest proportion of 1s and 2s were awarded.
Reflections: Having recognised at the end of the first year of the project that the aim of using web-based teaching was too narrow to engage all students, this project focussed more on improving confidence and enrichment to ensure students gained deeper understanding of the subject. We have had several challenges, the biggest being the huge turnover of staff which made it difficult to sustain projects. Towards the end of the second year, it was felt that we needed to return to the traditional structure of the department to continue its development, which created a lack of clarity of roles for a period of time.
Contact: Idza Idros, firstname.lastname@example.org; Elizabeth Hardy, email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org