Just a quickie that I thought I would share. I’ve been thinking about ways to motivate my “boy-heavy” year 10 group and for them to see the point of homework. I have an issue, in that I haven’t yet found something that engages them enough to “want” to do the work involved. I don’t want it to be an exercise that they do, just because they have to – we have all overheard snippets (that we sometimes choose to ignore) of conversations where the students say they did it in tutor time or on the bus on the way in … every time I hear this my heart sinks. 

Anyway, as I was pondering this, a parcel arrived from Pearson Edexcel with their first set of practice papers (they’ll be producing 6 sets apparently) and my plan was hatched. 

They were flipping getting the first paper as homework …  I can hear you saying “yeah…. and???” Well, the twist is that I told them I would also do their homework but under test conditions and then we’d compare answers, especially as they already know that I intend on sitting the new GCSE with them next year. In todays lesson, only 1 of the boys “forgot” their homework and the rest of the group were on fire! I explained that I had worked on it for the full hour and 30 minutes and they took great joy in pointing out my 1 mistake that would’ve lost me a mark! My version (which I did on my ipad using an app called notability so that I could export it as a PDF and display on the whiteboard) was littered with exam tips and we discussed how I approached the paper in general i.e. underlining key words, reading the question twice, using inverse operations to check my answers etc. It was also encouraging to see how serious they took it and I’m chuffed with how it went.  There were some surprising results too – with the highest getting 61/80 which at this stage I’m pleased with – for others I reiterated that I would rather they make the mistakes now than in 13 months time.

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We used the first foundation paper (in the main most of these students will do Higher tier is our thinking at the minute) but I want to build up their confidence and because it worked so well, I’m planning that we’ll do the next 2 foundation papers (probably 1 every 2 or 3 weeks) and then move onto Higher papers at the end of the Summer term but promise me you won’t tell Seager because he’ll go ape about the photocopying!! (I may have mentioned how tight he is before!?!?!)

PS: If you’ve come here looking to prove how easy the new GCSE is compared to the new SATs can I suggest that you check out the full sample assessment materials for BOTH higher and foundation tiers (you can find them HERE) – and remember that we are tasked with getting students a new grade 5 (at least a C and two thirds – so higher than a grade C today) which is considered a good pass from students that have got a level 4 (in old money). The Foundation tier only covers grades 1 to 5 and the Higher tier 4 to 9 (with a discretionary grade 3) so in order to get a grade 5 on the foundation tier they will need to get, in my opinion more than 70% (could be as high as 85%) of the paper correct – no one knows yet! The questions shown are not representative of the new GCSE …. when the SAT’s paper are published I will be writing a full blog post with my thoughts!

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