Thursday, 17 January 2013

Stretching the Top End

I work in an inner city school in Leeds. I have worked in the same post for 2 and a bit years now and I'm really enjoying working there. I have a good rapport with the vast (vast) majority of pupils and I'm getting more and more praise from senior members of staff. In the last two years our GCSE results in Maths have increased by about 20%... I'm not saying it's all me, but I'm saying that my input has a sizeable effect.

Myself and another colleague (who also joined at the same time from my previous school) take the D/E pupils from modular and we enter them for linear exams. We hammer them in class and organise extended revision sessions after school, into the evenings, at weekends and during holidays. Some of the pupils who attend these sessions are not the kind of kids you expect to turn up to do maths revision until 7pm (and then walk home in the rain, cold and pitch black of night - choosing to do it again two days later) and it's very humbling to have that kind of impact on some difficult pupils. I leave every session drained, but so full of optimism and positivity after spending 3 hours with kids who are working so hard and making it so apparent that I made the right career choice.

I love the effect that I have had on our results and our C/D and D/E borderline pupils, but I'd like to make more of an impact on stretching our top end. At the moment we have about 5-6% of our Year 11s achieving A/A* and this fact depresses me a little.

Tuesday was year 9 parents evening. I teach our top set and the talents that these pupils come in with impress me every day. I spent 4 hours without breaking from conversations informing parents of their kids' potential and having wonderfully positive conversations about their potential GCSE grades, rarely having a negative word to say. I told each parent (24 out of 29 possible attendees) that their kid has my attention between 3pm and 4pm for the next 2 and a half years - with two stipulations: (i) I receive 24 hours notice (mainly so that lifts are arranged and there's no confusion, but also because I may be busy with revision classes, needing to get home or year 11 football) and (ii) the pupil brings the work or finds it in the textbook (this isn't an extra lesson for me, but a chance to help out with pupils who are taking responsibility for their own work). (There is a third, which is just that they have the option to bring me sweets or a chocolate bar to say 'Thanks!'... I stressed the optional part, but did suggest that I would have a negative view of them for the rest of eternity if they didn't and wasn't sure if they'd be able to live with this!). At the time, one pupil booked Thursday to work on circles and a bit of standard form and brought a mate to do some area work from a lower set and in class three of the girls have asked if they can come on Thursdays to get some extra work done.

I'm planning to extend our foundation linear revision sessions to B to A and A to A* sessions taking place in evenings, at weekends and through holidays closer to exam time and I'm looking into offering the Free Standing Maths Qualification to selected students next year. We're taking some of our current year 11s to a maths inspiration workshop at West Yorkshire Playhouse in March and intending to book Rob Eastaway for a session and invite some of our local 'partnership' schools to get involved.

Further down the school, I'm assigning our Numeracy Leaders to year 8 pupils as mentors and they're also starting a Maths Computer Club for pupils to come and complete any MyMaths homework or play maths games every Thursday.

I'm so busy at the moment, but I'm loving every moment of it (until I teach year 7 or 8 and I start to get a bit disheartened with their approach to schooling). Because I'm doing all of this, Mr. Gove, do I get paid more from September? I only ask because, to be honest, I'd love some more money. Regardless of your (expectantly-absent) response, I'll do it anyway, because I want our kids to have all the opportunities they need to succeed at our school.

No comments:

Post a Comment