Transform new curriculum challenges into great outcomes

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Name Academy School    
Type Comprehensive    
Location Alcester, Warwickshire    
Cohort GCSE Maths cohort size: 130  Cohort EAL: 4%  Cohort SEN: 13%

Background

Alcester Academy is a comprehensive school and has been part of the Pearson Maths collaborative hub since 2013. With the introduction of the new GCSE (9-1) Mathematics curriculum, Alcester Academy was determined to face any adversity head-on.

Christian Seager - Alcester Academy

Christian Seager, Head of Mathematics, explains how the school made changes in how it taught maths and how a positive attitude meant the school was delighted with the summer maths outcomes.

"Having been involved in other reformed qualifications, I believe Pearson managed the Maths reform very well. " Mr. Hyde, Headteacher Alcester Academy

The beginning of our GCSE (9-1) Maths journey

The introduction of GCSE (9-1) maths meant we had to review and adapt our approach to meet the demands of teaching the new curriculum. The main issues we faced were deciding on what tier to enter the pupils and the added time pressure to deliver additional content. Like schools up and down the country we had so much to deliver while trying to promote positivity among the staff and students.

Meeting the demands of the new curriculum

We knew we had a lot of work to do to address our key issues so we put a plan in place to tackle key obstacles. We reviewed our approach and made changes over the course of Year 11 by concentrating on the crossover topics for our borderline students. The main objective was to help to cement their understanding and boost their confidence. We also allocated additional time for one-to-one and small group teaching and we also held after-school classes. One of the key things we are proud of is the positivity of all our staff who were focused on overcoming challenges and not being beaten by them. This was imperative in delivering our plan while keeping everyone motivated.

We progressed our students through additional support and practice  

In our lessons we increased the level of challenge for students as much as we could without ‘losing’ or demotivating them. To prepare them for the new exams we ramped up testing for our KS3 pupils by integrating questions from the new curriculum to old exam papers. We took the same approach for our Year 10 students.

For Year 11 we focused on maths during Tutor time, held one-to-one sessions and even ran one or two Saturday sessions per half-term. For our borderline students we created a specific group to help support them in reaching their full potential.

Secure mock papers were invaluable in helping students prepare for their exams

We used the secure mocks in December and March with the grade boundaries broadly aligned to where the students in the previous Year 11 were at that same point the year before. After the mocks in March, we continued teaching the crossover topics which ensured what we taught was relevant to both tiers for the 3, 4 and 5 borderline students until the deadline for exam entries.

We were delighted with the support from Pearson throughout this process. The Maths Emporium is superb and there was always someone on hand to answer my questions. The secure mocks were incredibly helpful and the fact they were so close to the style of the actual exam papers was a real positive and something that our students benefited from.

The outcome - excellent teaching brings excellent exam outcomes

We were delighted with our final achievements with 91% of our students achieving 4+ and 76% achieving 5+. Our focus on the crossover topics for all 3, 4 and 5 borderline students and the relentless positivity from our staff were key factors in our success. We felt the final assessments were very fair as the mocks adequately prepared us for the new style exams.