Last night I had a twitter conversation about the new GCSE and it’s really resonated with me because I’ve spent the last couple of nights thinking about how getting through the sheer content of the scheme of work is taking loads of time. Actually it’s not that there is so much “more” content per se, more that the depth and understanding I am thinking we need to get to and what that means I am spending more time on each little topic and making links with other areas of maths. It was comforting to know that I’m not the only one feeling the squeeze – it feels fine for year 9 but the clock seems to be ticking very loud already for year 10 – it’ll be fine though. I’d consider myself and Seager to be pretty “up to speed” with the changes and so can only imagine the amount of nervous energy that is being expended elsewhere in the country.

Before I go on, I’d like to say that the following is something that has been in the pipeline since I met with Steve Lomax in the summer holidays when we discussed putting together a working party looking at the new GCSE. Those that read the blog will know how passionate I feel about the expertise we have amongst our ranks – I genuinely believe that we are “stronger together” and now is the ideal time for us to make a real difference to other teachers helping them develop and discuss strategies and resources for teaching some of the new and shifted (from Higher to Foundation) topics. Basically the intention is that we have a group of teachers working towards a common goal over time – I am not pre-empting the end result as we envisage this will be a real collaboration.

Interested? You can book your free place USING THIS LINK 


Please do come along – now that details have gone out there is part of me that is worried no one will want to get involved …. Eeek!

I’d hope that in addition to producing/collating (whatever floats your boat) useful resources, ideas and teaching methods the group members can act as a sounding board with each other to discuss their thinking with regards key decisions yet to be made but which, we’ll all be facing next year (exam boards/tiers etc) which is why I’ve set out the aims as short, medium and long term. It’s about getting us focussed on what we can make an impact on NOW and so should be focussing our energy on rather than worrying about something that we don’t have to consider for some time. The below is the draft agenda:

  • Introductions
  • Short term and long term aims of the group.
    • Short term – teaching
    • Medium term – assessment/predictions/reporting
    • Long term – tier discussions/ exam board
  • New GCSE Specifications
    • Overview of changes including accountability
    • New Topics for
      • Both tiers
      • Foundation tier
      • Higher tier
    • Omitted topics but required for prior knowledge – how do we ensure there are no gaps?
    • Group discussion about possible implications for teaching
    • Methods
    • Resources
  • Agree a way forward/next steps

I am suspecting (hoping!) that people will want to take ownership for specific topics to go away with and come back next time to share ideas, resources and more importantly teaching methods which we’ll look to share through dropbox (or similar) which can be done on an ongoing basis too. We may be totally off the mark, but I feel there is a need for us to support each other through the next couple of years – through whatever means we can. Now is not a time to be a bystander …

The irony of this being driven through the GLOW Maths Hub isn’t lost on me, given my views on the hubs. I’m not anti them by the way – I genuinely feel there is a need for “something” but in terms of the national picture it all still feels a little bit “hit and miss” geographically – The GLOW hub is one that has really embraced their remit and I like most of what I’ve seen so far. There are still issues with coverage across the country, communication to “normal” teachers at the coal-face is an issue I know they struggle with (put it this way: in my “day job” (and not because I’m part of JustMaths!) I have yet to hear a whisper from our local hub).  I have also voiced other concerns about the elitism that such a structure could possibly develop locally and nationally and I’m also still worried about the “sucking of teaching talent” out of challenging schools where it’s really needed into hubs.

Don’t hate me (and please don’t patronise me with any responses to my concerns  … time will tell!) … it’s my opinion and you are entitled to yours. Getting involved in this working group is something I have thought long and hard about – To what extent am I being invited because of my views on the hubs in a way to pacify me is something I’ve also considered – mad! Slightly paranoid? I know! There is no right answer to this because if I am then someone has misjudged me (that’s not to say my mind is closed to the bigger picture – I am very open minded! But I also have to be “true to myself” … which is part of the rationale behind such a candid post) and if I’m being asked because someone in their insanity thinks I’ve got something to offer then I’d be selfish not to get involved. Could we have driven something like this ourselves? Possibly but I am not superwoman and no matter what he tells you, Seager is not a Superhero either! You have to remember that my main focus remains (rightly so!) my day job as a normal teacher just like most of you – working 40-odd periods a fortnight.

I genuinely see this as a great opportunity for a bunch of teachers to help each other in this time of change, to improve our practice and to help more students develop the skills they need to go on and fulfil their potential. We have amazing jobs as maths teachers but we really are stronger together and through such projects amazing things can happen. Get involved!

PS: I’m a pussycat really.