Jemma Sherwood offers advice for the transition from Year 10 to Year 11 in September.
As we look to have all year groups back in September, we are well aware that one of the groups who are most likely to be worried about the year ahead will be Year 10.
So far, we know that there is no proposal to change or reduce the content on the Mathematics GCSE. Our students may be feeling apprehensive about learning everything in time for the exams, even if they are pushed back by a month.
It’s important that we encourage them, let them know that we have it in hand and that they needn’t panic. If your school is anything like mine, the work set in lockdown has been a mix of new content and revision of things already done in school.
At the moment, I’m hopeful that this will mean a lot of my students have done more revision than they ever normally would have done. Therefore the beginning of Year 11 will give us some strong foundations to build upon in the coming months.
So what can we do to make Year 11 a successful experience for our students?
Find the gaps and address them carefully
Use quizzes (without stakes, no pressure) to find out what the students can and can’t do yet. Some of these topics you will want to reteach. Some will just need some more practice, distributed over the coming months.
Don’t be tempted to try and address all the gaps at once. Keep to a structured, carefully planned curriculum and just make sure you add in the necessary topics in the most appropriate places.
Keep sights high
The students need to know that they have not lost too much time and that a term’s learning can be caught up. Structure your time carefully so that you use every last second to ensure learning is embedded.
By structuring lesson time to practise the old as well as introduce the new, the need for a long period of revision towards the end of the year is reduced. In doing so, it won’t matter quite as much if you finish teaching the content a little later than you normally would. In most cases, there won’t be a need to sacrifice content.
Keep reminding the students that you have it all in hand, and that they will learn everything they need to for their exams.
Make the most of every opportunity to interleave content. Solving linear equations? Throw in some fractional coefficients rather than sticking just to integers. Learning about the sine rule? Have some questions that lead to quadratic equations.
Research shows that interleaving content helps students to learn it better. It is important that they see plenty of questions, throughout the year, that mix topics in unexpected ways. After all, that is what happens in the GCSE exam so we need to prepare them to ‘mix things up’ comfortably.
Revise from the start
Revision should be a habit introduced from the outset. Use small parts of lesson time to review and revise, perhaps with mixed quizzes or by focusing on a theme a week. Set structured revision for homework from day one. Every student is spending time practising the most important areas of their learning repeatedly over the year.
If you are looking for revision materials, try the new Oxford Revise GCSE Maths series, featuring revision guides and workbooks for the Foundation and Higher tiers.
Now more than ever, our students need us to be calm and in control. We have plenty of time to address any problems that may have arisen from the period of lockdown.
So plan carefully for the next year and take every opportunity to reassure the students that you have it all in hand.
Jemma Sherwood is Head of Mathematics at a Secondary school in Worcestershire, having taught maths for fourteen years. She has a master’s degree in Mathematics Education and spends some of her time training teachers of other subjects who want to convert to teaching mathematics as well as sitting on the governing board of a Primary school
Jemma has written How to Enhance Your Mathematics Subject Knowledge: Number and Algebra for Secondary Teachers for the Oxford Teaching Guides series, which is a guidebook for new maths teachers, equipping them with the depth of knowledge they need to talk confidently about maths to students at all levels. Shop now via the Oxford Education website or on Amazon.