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 Secondary Magazine issue 8 Welcome to week 8 of the NCETM Secondary Magazine. In this issue, both our main article and our 2-hour PD Module are examining the challenge of getting pupils to achieve a Grade C at GCSE, with the PD module focussing specifically on those students on the tricky C/D borderline.
C/D Borderline
How many of you are under pressure to push the number of students achieving a grade C in Mathematics to an all-record breaking high this summer? Factor in the ability to achieve a grade C in English too and the sweat starts dripping. Intervention strategies are at the forefront of our planning procedures at the moment. Whether we agree with the exam factory outputs or not, teachers in the classroom are battling with what we believe in and what’s best for the students. How do the students feel with the pressure coming at them from all subject areas?

Improving Learning in Mathematics - also known as The Standards Unit Box - is one of the most valuable resources available and it is free of charge. Many schools still have not had the opportunity to utilise the brilliant ideas provided within their teaching, those who have say it has transformed the teaching and learning within their classrooms.

I was in a school last week running an intervention day with Year 11 students. In the morning I worked with 5 eager B/A borderline students who lapped up the opportunity given to them to further understand direct and indirect proportion. They were a dream and their brains were like sponges. From 11am onwards, I was working with 13 more (although 5 more students sneaked into the session) who have had no fewer than 13 Mathematics teachers since September! I had a wide variety of resources prepared for them to work through (many of which I took from the Standards Unit Box) based on the C/D borderline topics. They were so keen and in the short time allocated, we managed to cover Pythagoras’ theorem, solving equations, rearranging formulae and then a request for trigonometry. Some of the group had previously covered trig, some had not. Those who had, had no idea as to what the topic was about or how to tackle basic or exam questions.

After an hour and a half of “Two Orange Ants Saw Old Harry Climbing A Hill” and SOHCAHTOA, they could all manage finding a side and an angle! I couldn’t get them out of the room at the end of the day and a revolutionary moment was when one of the girls piped up “Everything in maths is related really isn’t it!” at which point I fell to my knees and shouted hurray. Needless to say they asked me if I was OK and gave each other funny looks.

Exam factories or not, these students managed to master some of the more complex areas of the mathematics curriculum with an understanding of how to tackle the problems rather than rote learning. If only all my classes had 18 keen students in them.

Are you under pressure in your department? Are the students you teach feeling the pressure? Have you got a copy of the Standards Unit Box? If not you can order one free of charge here. Read how other teachers are using the materials and resources in the Subject Learning Coaches’ Community.

 Secondary Magazine archive Browse Secondary Magazine Issue 5 PD Activities