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Raising GCSE attainment/achievement at KS4

Discussion in 'Science' started by nicki_p, Jan 11, 2012.

  1. nicki_p

    nicki_p New commenter

    Here's one for you.....!
    Our department are currently trying to come up with ideas for raising achievement in science, particularly Year 11. The school has gone through special measures and we're thankfully out of that now with much improved results, but there is still that driving need for everyone to be 'above average'! We do all the usual things - revision classes, ISA days, motivational pep talks, study skills etc, but its still not enough! Does anyone have any success stories from their own experience? Any ideas that you've tried out, especially those that are a bit left-field?!

    Thanks!
     
  2. nicki_p

    nicki_p New commenter

    Here's one for you.....!
    Our department are currently trying to come up with ideas for raising achievement in science, particularly Year 11. The school has gone through special measures and we're thankfully out of that now with much improved results, but there is still that driving need for everyone to be 'above average'! We do all the usual things - revision classes, ISA days, motivational pep talks, study skills etc, but its still not enough! Does anyone have any success stories from their own experience? Any ideas that you've tried out, especially those that are a bit left-field?!

    Thanks!
     
  3. My technique was to start in Sept of Y10 "I will not provide any extra lessons or revision sessions, I will not remark and remark coursework. If you want to succeed you need to come to almost every lesson, work hard and keep on top of your work, which you will know by the regular tests." That was repeated every few weeks and after a couple of years all the pupils knew that if they wanted to be successful, they would have to do the work.
    Amazingly, no-one actually wanted to be a failure and the Science Department had the best results by a long way in the school for 16 out of 17 years. It would not be a popular option with SLT today, but it really is time that pupils earned their grades, in my opinion. Sadly, of course, it's too late for your Y11s
     
  4. nicki_p

    nicki_p New commenter

    The problem we have is the precedent has already been set. The staff BEND OVER BACKWARDS to support the students. Even when extra revision classes are put on they are very poorly attended by pupils. They have to be forced or parents told to ensure attendance! English and Maths put on 'retreats' where pupils go to an unfamiliar setting for revision. There's no way SLT would ever have the bottle to say what you've said to pupils! BTEC students are NOT allowed to fail - they get taken from other lessons to complete assignments if they've been absent or not worked during lessons. The students have the mindset now that it doesn't matter if they don't do it, because we will! Drives me mad!
     
  5. I FULLY UNDERSTAND! However, you did ask for "left-field" ideas and I can assure you that it works. I based my actions on my experiences when we went on strike approx 30y ago - pupils lost days and days of schooling but got the best ever results, BECAUSE they knew it would be down to them.
    However, it would be a brave SLT / Department that went against the perceived good practice. Some of the best advice I was ever given (by my SENCo) was "if it isn't working, stop doing it", whereas the "obvious" solution was to do even more of the same.
    Sorry I'm not helping much, but look to the future?
     
  6. How is this for left-field:
    Set up 'extra help' sessions for the lower year groups (Y10, Y9 or whoever you fancy) but get the Y11 to give the help. Tell them they can put it on their CVs as 'assisting & coaching younger pupils'.
    Clearly the sessions have to be supervised & maybe there has to be some organistion of the topics covered. The Y11 may get more out of it than they bargain on. Depending on your school's situation, the stronger Y11 may be in a position to give the extra help to their weaker peers in Y11.
     
  7. Just to add - our school does this for maths. The sixth formers are actually the helpers in this instance & they are allocated a struggling Y8, Y9 or Y10 pupil each to see on a given lunch or break slot each week.
    The pupils build up a relationship over the year & both benefit. The Y9 pupil decides on the topic to be covered each session (generally very closely allied to the homework task of the week!) and the 6th form pupil will try to help explain the maths behind it.
     
  8. nicki_p

    nicki_p New commenter

    I can see potential in this idea....need to think logistics!
     
  9. You could consider spaced learning as a different approach to revision, and possibly teaching as well.

    I went to a very interesting talk about it at the ASE conference this month.

    Paul Kelley is the head at this school: http://www.monkseaton.org.uk/spaced/Pages/default.aspx

    Follow @agittner for more information about it.
     
  10. Maybe it teaches them more than factual knowledge. Maybe it can teach them patience, tolerance and empathy, which are invaluable and sadly lacking in the population as a whole.
     
  11. When I was a pupil I knew enough to pass exams. When I became a teacher I had to understand things and consider them from a number of different angles so that I could comprehend mis-understandings and explain them.
    That is how mentors benefit personally, to say nothing of the moral and sociological gains.
     
  12. PaulDG

    PaulDG Occasional commenter

    If they're going to become teachers, sure.

    But for the majority who will not?

    Hmmm... As a parent, I have to say that you can keep your "moral and sociological" experiments away from my kids, thank you very much. I consider too much of their valuable learning time has already been wasted in those subjects where the nonsense that is "mixed ability" has been foisted upon them so now having to waste even more of it explaining decimals to yr9s (who should have grasped them before they left primary) would certainly not be acceptable to me.

    Still, if your 6th form recruitment is OK, obviously some agree with you.
     
  13. There are very few people who will not end up teaching others, no matter what job they take. And, to be cruel, those who do not teach others probably haven't got much to give other than hard work.
    My own daughter (now 28 and a middle-manager in a profitable manufacturing company) often talks about the problems she has in explaining to the operatives what has to be changed. Just a couple of weeks ago she said "Dad, going round and helping my friends in your lessons really taught me a lot about other people and it ensured that I thoroughly understood the Physics you had been teaching us". It didn't do her any harm, as she collected double A* in Science and good A levels as well, allowing her to proceed to a 2:1 in Biology from a "good" university.
    As I said, "mentors benefit".
    As for "moral and sociological", that was merely a code indicating the wider gain in terms of personal relationships and human understanding which we ALL benefit from. In my daughter's case, it allows her to "manage".
    As for mixed-abiloity, 35y ago I accused an in-coming Headmaster of wanting to disrupt a high-performing school by introducing such an idea. Within 5y I was a convert: we didn't have an "O level" and "CSE" mentality any more - the vast majority of kids believed they could attempt anything and I was having to tell pupils (expected to get Grade5 CSE) that A level was probably not for them (but we would make a decision after the exams). 98% had a "can do" philosophy. There were no sink groups, consigned to the rubbish heap before they became teenagers. With mixed-ability groups, pupils realised that everyone had skills or interests that may be different to theirs but could still have validity. THAT Head was prepared to spend time and money developing a system which worked. IF you have had less positive experiences, I'm sorry, but as is often the case, it's not the system which is wrong but the way it is operated.
    As to why Y9s cannot do decimals .....? I only taught bottom set Y7 maths and some kids "know o'clock but not half-past", "know left & right but not angles", "know 10x table and most of 2x table" Is that entirely down to Primary failings? I did find (better groups doing physics) that a lot of kids say "three point fourteen" and so believe it is higher than "three point seven". HTH
     
  14. pink_reindeer

    pink_reindeer Occasional commenter

    We could be working at the same school here.
     
  15. Compassman

    Compassman Star commenter

    Mine as well; although I have adopted the policy with BTEC that I am no going out of my way if THEY can't be ***** to do the work. Personally I think it would be a good if schools adopted the policy that it is down to the pupils to do the work. It might be the case that for a couple of exam cycles the results are poor but after a while they'd get the message. I am not talking about not helping the pupils who are having difficulties, I am talking about providing endless opportunities for them over and over again. It needs to stop and we need to get them to realise that it is not all our responsibility.
     
  16. enjolras

    enjolras New commenter

    We all know of departments where the "worst teachers" get the "best results". Once the pupils recognise that they have to do things for themselves they will try to. I observed a colleague's lesson a few weeks ago where he explained very clearly what was required for a particular task. the pupils. They all sat quietly but very few actually took in the information. That became very apparent once they commenced the task. THEN they listened carefully, once they understood that they needed the help.
    Maybe it isn't too late for your Y11s. It will be a steep learning curve (for them and for SLT!) but it might just work. More fundamental is embedding the desire to do well because the GCSE or whatever actually matters to them. That one is down to a national malaise, one could argue.
     

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