Work for the holibobs …

I’ve been thinking about …. the timings of mocks in year 11.

I’ve always worked in schools where we test them in maths at some point during the first 2 to 3 weeks of year 11 with a view to giving us a baseline (these have been done in lessons so don’t impact other subjects or require any special rooms sorting out). The best practice I have seen has meant that these informal “tests” have been shortly followed by the first of two parents evenings where the results and strengths and weaknesses are shared with parents.

For me, doing this quite early in the year means that you can gauge parental involvement and begin to forge partnerships with them to support the students for the rest of year 11. From the students perspective it gives them invaluable feedback about the scale of the mountain they need to climb – given the long lead in to the final exams it means that it doesn’t seem such a large mountain to climb as they can begin to break down what they need to do over a longer period of time. If its left until post-Christmas some students seem to get the feeling that they won’t be able to master all the topics they need to in such a short space of time and that is when the panic sets in because they think that its an impossible task.

I’ve always worked in schools where the first formal whole-school mocks have been either 2 or 3 weeks before the Christmas break. I’ve always been a fan of this, in terms of timing because it means that the marking can be done and dusted before the Christmas break. I’ve also felt it was an important message to tell students and parents at the previous parents evening that the first mocks will give us a better idea of where they’ll be in the Summer – making it clear that it will require work on the part of the student which should replicate the amount of work required for the final exams  but this work would be balanced with a work-free Christmas break which would probably be the last work-free break they’d get until one of the longest Summer breaks of their lives! To be fair, I’ve always “tried” to enforce some form of work over the holidays too but then I am a grinch!

Anyway, back in October, I did a Twitter poll (Ok, so it’s likely to be biased and not the most scientifically credible of sources) but it gave me a flavour of the timing that most people do their first “formal” mocks in year 11.

Due to the way in which only 4 responses are allowed on Twitter polls I’ve had to do some fudging with the figures but its supported my “gut” feeling that most schools do a first mock before Christmas – additionally, I’ve been asking people on my travels and about 10% of those I have asked have their first one in January so it’s in the right ball park at least.  For those of you that have mocks post-Christmas I can only imagine how difficult it is to motivate students to do some work over this period – which is true for all teachers I suppose which is why I’ve put together some work that I’ve framed as a challenge – the higher tier version is on its way too and will appear in extras/Revision & exam prep/Holiday work in the Teachers Toolkit on JustMaths Online at some point tomorrow. I’m experimenting with some funky fonts to try to engage the disaffected who hate reading but have also produced a simple font version for those of you that are advocates of “simpler = better” (not sure where I stand which is why I’m trialling two versions … ooh get me … is that a bit of action research there?!?!). The foundation version is a collection of the “basic skills” in the main that I want them to practice over the holibobs and I’ve included answers that you can choose whether to include or not (I would as I have no intention of marking it!). Note that I have purposely not “Christmas-fied” it so that it could also be used in other holidays … I’m planning on putting together more of these for half term and Easter too!

You can find the files here->

Two week break challenge – Foundation 1

Two week break challenge – Foundation 1 – Simple Font

Two week break challenge – Foundation 1 – WIthout answers

Two week break challenge – Higher 1 – Simple Font

Two week break challenge – Higher 1

Two week break challenge – Higher 1 – Without answers


Two week break challenge – KS2

Two week break challenge – KS2 – Simple Font

As I always say with these things … may or may not be useful! You decide! If you do use them I’d love to know which version you’ve gone for and what the students response to the funky fonts was … I have a feeling that this will vary by current attainment with the higher students preferring the “simple” font as they’ll just want to do the maths … maybe !!?!? (should I be saying that! too late .. I’ve said it!) 

2018-01-07T14:52:35+00:00December 11th, 2017|Blog, From the Coal Face, NEW GCSE 9-1, Resources|


  1. Sue Knox December 12, 2017 at 1:29 pm

    These look great, thank you!
    Some font feedback….I teach in a special school for students with speech, language and communication difficulties. Personally I’m more attracted to the funky font, but the simple font version is perfect for my students with Dyslexia.
    Thanks again and Happy Christmas!

  2. JustMathsMel December 12, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    thanks for the feedback Sue. I’m interested in trying to engage the disaffected students .. gotta be worth a try! I’ll try anything once!

  3. C O'Brien December 14, 2017 at 3:35 pm


    This sheet is great. Is it possible to get a copy without the answers included?


  4. JustMathsMel December 15, 2017 at 3:25 pm

    I’ve added versions without the answers to the above

  5. Venassa Holt December 18, 2017 at 6:44 am

    Thanks ever so much.. we are very pleased to be part of the justmsths family!!
    Happy Hols

  6. K Heywood April 26, 2018 at 12:45 pm

    Love them, so did the students. We’re even going to make some more for each of the holidays but in the same format we like them that much. Thanks

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