"They're a clever group, but my word teaching Pythagoras today was hard!"
"Why was that mate?"
"They couldn't square numbers... they're able, but they couldn't square numbers and find square roots!"
"Any ideas why?"
I checked the Scheme of Learning. Topic 4: The Pythagorean Theorem, Topic 7: Squares and Squares Roots.
We'd just started our journey to using a new assessment strategy. Objectives were split across four pathways - Foundation, Developing, Secure and Mastery - with additional pathways available for data collections (Below at the bottom end, Exceeding at the top). We'd write six assessments of 20 marks, using objectives assigned at each pathway level, and create four different assessments at BFD, FDS, DSM and SME by joining three parts together. If they score 15 or more, they've achieved the objectives for that pathway and 'qualified' for the next level up in terms of data collection.
It was going down well - a little confusing, but once explained well to the students, they saw the benefits in identifying areas that were holding them back, and they enjoyed the challenged offered with the increasing difficulty.
"We have to do something about the SOL. Topics are in the wrong order. Could we do something like the assessments?"
"Probably. Give me some time."
I wanted a curriculum that took students on a journey, in the belief that every student can achieve a grade 9 at GCSE, but their GCSE attainment is ultimately limited by time. Some students will do this at 16, but others might need the extra time until they're 18, 23, 28, 35 or 40 - the only issue being that after 16 they won't continue their GCSE study.
I went with Increasingly Difficult objectives across year groups. Year 7 Developing objectives would become Year 8 Foundation and Year 9 Below, and so on... It finished with 7B, 7F8B, 7D8F9B, 7S8D9F10B, 7M8S9D10F, 7E8M9S10D, 8E9M10S, 9E10M, 10E. 9 units, where Unit 5's objectives cover Mastery students in Year 7, Secure students in Year 8, Developing students in Year 9 and Foundation students in Year 10. Then, it was time to decide what went where.
Using the DfE's web site to identify the Year 3-6 curriculum, AQA's Level 2 Further Maths objectives, along with the curriculum from Complete Maths, I went about separating the objectives into topics, collecting these into groups, and creating 5 modules with a similar number of objectives and a broad range of topics.
Module A became Place Value (to develop understanding of number), Symmetry and Transformations and Averages.
Module B became Calculations (to build on Place Value), Angles and Sequences.
Module C became Fractions, Algebraic Manipulation, Charts and Shapes.
Module D became Decimals, Equations, Units and Properties of Numbers.
Module E became Percentages, Graphs, Probability, Perimeter, Area & Volume and Ratio.
Having separated them into the modules, we used long scrolls of paper split into 9 parts, with Year 3 objectives in Unit 1 and Year 6 objectives in Unit 3, meaning that our lowest attaining students are being taught at a level closer to their current level of understanding and our Developing students can revisit the Year 6 SOL, as students with a SS of 90-99 haven't succeeded with the Year 6 curriculum.
As a department, we worked hard to check that pre-requisites were taught before objectives within their modules, but also across modules and following that process I went ahead putting the SOL documents and Modular assessments together. Once completed, they went back out to the department for checking and when amendments came back, they were implemented and sent back out to start from September 2018.
The objectives themselves have been shared here (https://www.dropbox.com/s/y2d3povgoh4amgp/Curriculum%20Journey.jpg?dl=0) with much detail removed from our SOL documents, but the idea is there.
The positives among teachers are that they're improving their subject knowledge by teaching the same topics to all classes at the same time, shortening their planning time when classes are at similar starting points in terms of their prior attainment and enjoying more discussions around their practice and sharing expertise and resources.
From the students, they're experiencing more success, they're more motivated, they're enjoying their lessons more and they're being challenged more (whilst also being supported more). Students making 'good' progress (progressing one unit between each year for each module) are celebrated on a roll of honour after each assessment and postcards are sent home.
We have revision guides available at all levels (KS2 at the bottom end, L2FM at the top, KS3 at different levels in the middle), with a 'Home Learning Centre' now in place with links to CorbettMaths videos and CIMT exercises, organised by units and objectives.
Even in the difficult position that we find ourselves in with COVID19, we're going well!