Maths for Breakfast Anyone? (Issue 7, Conference June 2010))

– Flexible intervention inspires year 11

The maths intervention program is specifically aimed at year 11 pupils who were not achieving that important, life changing, grade C. The intervention program allows students to get one-to-one tutoring, something which many parents do not have the luxury to afford, often costing £20 a pop.

A few ideas were tried out to find out how intervention would be the most effective. Originally starting with the idea of one-to-one sessions, we soon realised that three-to-one sessions were the way forward with more willingness to come from the students if they were not on their own. It also meant that there could be more contact time with the maths coach as with one-to-one sessions the time slots soon filled up and they would only be seen once a week, but the group sessions allowed them to have two or three sessions a week.

Having small groups gave the students more confidence to ask questions or say that they did not understand things as there was not the pressure of a whole class watching them, and allowing them to learn things at their own pace.

This new found confidence was often reflected in the classroom setting, with them attempting questions in class that they maybe previously avoided.

The small group setting also meant they could not shy away when they were asked questions, so always had to be thinking.

Another issue that the program helped us to overcome was that students did not revise or did not do enough revision, or left revision too late, a common finding in many C/D borderline students. Therefore, the intervention program put in the extra revision time.

As time went on the program progressed with new additions to it. One of these being morning maths revision. This involved the students coming in early for morning registration and getting 30 minutes of maths everyday before school. We began by doing 5 minutes or so of teaching into a topic and then set challenges so that students had something to work towards.

For example obtaining 100% on the mymaths C’s to B’ booster packs, and rewarded those that achieved this with Haribo! We found that this encouraged many of the pupils to do some work at home. As if they had not been able to complete the challenge during morning registration, they often worked on it at home.

We also did whole days of maths. Although this was originally greeted with grunts, it proved to be very successful with almost all of the students saying they were pleased they had done it.

On these days we carried on the Haribo challenge but with slightly different rules. Everyone did a test in the morning when they came in, all aiming to get a grade C. Anyone that managed it got some haribo! Following on from their results in the morning exam pupils were givena lesson to improve their mark. In this lesson they worked independently using custom designed ICT resources focusing on all the topics they had been unable to do on the test, or had got wrong. In addition they could also utilise revision guides or, if they preferred there were a number of teachers available to speak with.

The final part of the day was the students taking the same test again but with the numbers altered to see how much progress they had made through the day.

Most pupils went up one or two grades which was a great confidence booster and also showed them that if they just did a little bit of work they could improve their grades.

Results in January showed that so far the intervention program has been a success with 70% of the cohort achieving their grade C. Many of the students commented that they may not have passed if it had not been for the extra time and help they had received in maths intervention.

The intervention program was not only about teaching the pupils how to do things, but also about giving them the confidence to have a go at everything!

Kayleigh Rainbow