Aim: To use existing staff experience to provide consistently high standards of teaching and learning.
Background: Pupils enter the school with attainment that is below national average. The proportion of disadvantaged pupils and the proportion of pupils who have special educational needs and/or disabilities is above national average. The Maths department is comprised of nine teachers with a combined teaching experience of over 150 years, all with different teaching styles.
Year 1: A new system of assessment called Attitude to Class Learning (ATCL) and Attitude to Home Learning (ATHL) was introduced with appropriate training for staff. At the end of each assessment period, students were asked to assess themselves against the six areas of the Attitude to Learning headings, thus providing them with a better understanding of their learning journey. The six areas were: Understanding my role in other students' learning; Engaging with teachers, students and resources; Dealing with difficulty; Taking responsibility for my own learning; Practising to improve and Acting upon feedback. As a result the department was using the same way to measure effort and students knew exactly where to find the advice on how to progress.
Year 2: The number of assessments was reduced from six to three per year to allow enough time for students to act upon advice between assessment points and to make the teacher workload manageable. For KS4 the Mathematics department devised an Individual Knowledge Profile which focused more on progress and attainment. The idea was that each student received a green/amber/red indicator for the sub-topics addressed in tests according to their results.
Year 3: At KS3 the new Mastery Statement Assessment System was used instead of national curriculum levels. The department collaborated to create resources which were used by everyone to ensure consistency; these prioritised 11 key areas in KS3 Mathematics teaching. "White Rose Hub" materials were also used to promote students' fluency in all skills.
Evidence: Student questionnaires, results.
Impact: With many changes during the three years it was difficult to attribute success to any particular initiative. However, for three consecutive years, despite pupils entering KS3 below national average, the school achieved KS4 Grades A*-C at or above the national average (2014 - 69% vs 62%, 2015 - 63% vs 63%, 2016 - 72% vs 61%).
In contrast, the numbers of students who continued to KS5 was inconsistent over the three years. Factors other than the quality of teaching and learning needed to be considered, e.g. A-Level Mathematics is often taken by academic students who would like to complement it with Physics and Computing, which South Wirral unfortunately does not offer. Likewise, certain Science and Maths combinations were not possible due to timetabling constraints.
Reflections: The extra rigour and application skills required of the new specification GCSE will have an impact in the future. We have already responded to the anticipated difficulties, so it will be interesting to see the effect the KS3 Mastery approach will have on achievement once the new specification GCSE has been fully established in four to five years’ time.
Contact: Paul Tam, firstname.lastname@example.org