A Maths Resit Case Study
At the last Ofsted Inspection in 2013, Franklin College was classified as Good, with many individual areas being classed as Outstanding.
Franklin College is the only sixth form college in North East Lincolnshire, with other further education provision in the area being provided by the Grimsby Institute of Further and Higher Education, and three school-based sixth form centres. All of North East Lincolnshire’s secondary schools are now Academies, and almost all the primary schools have joined them in the decision to move away from Local Authority control.
Franklin College opened in 1990, and they offer a full range of provision from Level 1 through to a pre-university Diploma in Art and Design. Originally designed to be a small sixth form centre of around 500 students, Franklin College now has 1,600 full time students and 1,000 part-time students on roll, with 230 members of staff.
About the Team
The maths department at Franklin College is a small team of five full time maths teachers, two part time maths teachers and an Assistant Principal who also teaches maths. Every teacher has a varied timetable, teaching the full range from Level 1 through to Level 3.
The team is led by Tara Jones, Deputy Director for Teaching, Learning and Assessment, with Irina Humber and Emma Bell as Assistant Curriculum Team Leaders. Emma Bell’s remit is to oversee the teaching and learning for Level 1 and Level 2 Maths, as well as Entry Level students.
There are currently 120 students enrolled on a re-sit GCSE course at Franklin College, with a further 38 sitting a level of Functional Skills. Every student at the college who does not yet possess a “C” in GCSE Mathematics is required to have part of their study programme dedicated to working towards it. It is not unusual to have students with a Level 3 programme of AS/A2 classes, and GCSE Maths.
The published pass grade for FE Institutions at GCSE Maths with Edexcel in the June 2014 exam series was 36.5%, with sixth form colleges having a success rate of 38.4%. The total percentage of students ages 17+ who achieved at least a C grade with Edexcel in the same exam session was 32.4%. At Franklin College, the percentage of students who achieved a C or higher in Summer 2014 was 61%.
The success of students is due to the accumulation of various factors – the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.
- Students are enrolled on a one-year course. They are not entered for November resits.
- Students are enrolled on the level of course appropriate to them, according to their current grade and career intentions.
- On the “Aiming for a C” GCSE course, students are taught in an environment which allows them to hone the skills they already possess.
- The course focuses in on key skills and techniques to achieve enough marks on the paper to achieve a C.
- Students are all entered for the Higher Tier paper.
- Teachers make sure that students do not feel patronised, either because of the resources given to them, or in the delivery of the material.
- Teachers work with students on their confidence and self-belief – this is often the barrier in moving from a D grade to a C grade.
Too often, resources are geared towards younger students, and finding ones which suit young adults can be very difficult. At Franklin College, the teachers focus on finding useful and accessible resources, and making ones which fit their students.
The D to C scheme of work builds from a point of knowing that the students have covered this material time and time again. The teachers do not assume zero-knowledge; they know that students need to be shown how to use the skills they already have to better effect rather than learning brand new content.
Confidence and self-belief
Right from the beginning, on taster days and in the first lessons of the year, teachers talk to students about the fact that they know how the students must be feeling – that “kick in the stomach” when the student opens their results envelope and sees a D, the feeling that they were so close, but just missed.
Teachers show students what they CAN do rather than emphasising what they cannot. They have developed a scheme of work which starts gently to improve confidence, and then slowly adds more dimensions and areas to achieve marks.
The department does not use grades in their work, saying that something is a B grade topic, or something else is a D grade. They emphasise that it’s a number of marks which get the student a C grade, and that these marks can be achieved from anywhere in the paper. The difference between a D and a C is just one mark – and a student can answer all of the so-called D questions correctly to get that C.
61% of the GCSE students at Franklin College achieved a C grade or better in June 2014, almost double the national average.
This year’s cohort, after their first mock exam, showed a success rate of 49% which is already about the national average.
In a student voice survey, 100% of responses show that the students are happy with the way the course is presented.
Emma Bell, Franklin College, Assistant Curriculum Team Leader (Maths),