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FE Magazine - Issue 37: Preparing for GCSE resit students

Created on 14 August 2014 by ncetm_administrator
Updated on 27 August 2014 by ncetm_administrator


FE Magazine - Issue 37'No Pressure Then' by Pete (adapted), some rights reserved

Preparing for GCSE resit students

Following the successful NCETM GCSE Mathematics Enhancement Programme (MEP) and the widening of the GCSE mathematics team in many colleges and other FE organisations, there is a need for a closer working relationship and collaborative lesson planning across the team.

Many teams will have an outline scheme of work (SOW) which forms the basis of the programme, however, as was considered throughout the MEP, a different teaching and learning approach is required if we are to engage students and give them a successful experience and outcome for resit GCSEs.

Weeks 1 and 2 16-19 students

Having undertaken diagnostic tests, teachers should begin to gain further knowledge of student needs.

These initial lessons should be used to gain as much information about where students are in mathematics and should introduce them to a different way of working. Remember they are not blank slates! They know stuff!!

We want them to look forward to coming to mathematics lessons and enjoy the experience. This is challenging for teachers, but certainly will not happen if we just give them the same diet as they have had before.

Lesson 1

Have an interesting starter – maybe the Factors and Multiples Puzzle from NRICH (featured as My Favourite in Issue 28).

Introduce them to how the course will run and the expectations of them. All should have access to a textbook and to online resources to facilitate practice and consolidation.

Find out what they feel about maths and perhaps assess their confidence by getting them to draw a ‘confidence scatter graph’ of different topics such as number, geometry algebra and trigonometry. Are they aware of particular topics they need to brush up?

Find out what they are hoping to gain. Is their goal a Grade C or higher?

Try to make the lesson group work, working together, remembering topics, supporting and getting to know each other by looking at exam questions in groups and feeding back.

Give them work to be done at home. You might say that they should try to look at maths most days if they can. Their preparation for the next session could be to explore the mathematics in their programme of study and to bring examples ready to ‘present’ to the group in posters. If more than one vocational area is represented they can do their own preparation but then work together in the class to pull a poster together.

Lesson 2

Starter: students to prepare a presentation or poster on flipchart paper about where maths is in their Programme of Study (group or individual).

Get the rest of the group to add to the maths if they can so all have picture of the range of mathematics.

Teacher - Using the SOW prepare a session which will facilitate all making progress, being involved and learning .

Use a variety of activities, including group work and sum up using exam questions when possible to build confidence.

These initial weeks are critical for laying the foundations of the relationships between you and the group and beginning to change their attitude toward mathematics.


In general, most of the adults will have a huge fear factor and will probably not have shown well in their pre-tests.

Again it is important to begin by finding out their ‘fears’ and building confidence.

Using a variation on the above it is important to do more than going through exercises. Research tells us that involvement and group work is the way forward to good learning. This can take a little more time with frightened adults.

In both situations it is important to create a ‘can do’ non- threatening atmosphere if we are to facilitate success for our learners.

The Team

If possible it would be helpful for the maths team to meet each week to discuss the plan for the next. The scheme of work gives the topics, however the approach and possible resources should be discussed together plus discussion about what is going well or could be better. Share and make use of all that has been introduced on the maths enhancement programme.

Image credit
Page header by Pete (adapted), some rights reserved



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