Aim: To discover why students choose to take English at A Level, to support and encourage those that do and to increase uptake of English at A Level and university. To inspire pupils to become more passionate about their learning and embrace deeper subject knowledge.
Background: This built on another successful PTI project at Pimlico which consisted of founding a lecture series for pupils and staff. It had given pupils a better understanding of what studying English at A Level and university was like, and had increased staff’s subject knowledge.
A trip to an AQA lecture series improved understanding of the exam specifications, which encouraged those who were already motivated to study English. A student voice project aimed to understand Year 12 students’ reasons for choosing to study English Literature, and questionnaires revealed that few students in either Literature or Language read much outside of the course.
Year 2 :
The first year of the project had shown that it was difficult to make an impact on Key Stage 4 pupils, so the focus shifted to KS3. Top set pupils were surveyed about their GCSE, A Level and university aspirations and the data used to plan future milestones and sessions for KS3 students. The exercise led to GCSE and A-Level pupils visiting KS3 classes for Q&A sessions to dispel misconceptions about the course, and KS3 pupils were offered the chance to experience university-style education with a lecture and seminar.
The number of lectures delivered was increased and extended to cover coursework focus. The impact of these was measured with questionnaires and attendance registers. Extracurricular support was provided through a buddy system to aid retention from Year 12-13 and courses were enriched with wider reading lists.
Evidence: Staff and student surveys, lecture attendance, coursework grades.
Impact: Students were positive about the Q&A sessions. They valued having students talk to them rather than teachers, and they felt more comfortable asking questions that staff members sometimes considered unimportant. The sessions increased their confidence about GCSE English, though most younger students could not fully comprehend most of the content of the Sixth Formers’ explanations.
The trips also helped pupils build an idea of what studying English at university would be like, though it was difficult to get whole-school engagement and the majority of uptake was from students already studying English in the Sixth Form.
Reflections: More regular trips to exam board lectures would help pupils currently studying English, and more information for younger pupils before the Q&A sessions would be likely to elicit better questioning.
Contact: Matt Meneghello, English Teacher, firstname.lastname@example.org