Monday, 21 August 2017

Lego QR Code v2.0

A while back I blogged about my Lego QR Code here.

The QR code has very much, up until today, remained at the side of my classroom(s) kind of propped up against something as I never found a reliable way to put it up on display. I once tried to blue tack the Lego board/code to the wall, but inevitably it fell off and I had to create the code all over again from the scattered pieces of Lego!

Earlier this year I discovered Nimuno Loops! I saw a Twitter/Facebook post advertising their 'Lego tape' and decided to 'back' them. My Nimuno Loops tapes got delivered earlier this month and so it was time to redesign my Lego QR Code...

The tape is the perfect solution to me not being able to previously put my QR Code on display.

The strips of 'Lego tape' stick perfectly to the classroom wall and can even be peeled off and reused.
I cut the strips into the length required and then laid them out below one another, ensuring there weren't any gaps and that they were lined up.
I then, with a slight air of caution, started placing the Lego pieces onto the strips to recreate the code from the original I made a few years ago.

The strips come in all sorts of different colours and sizes, I used a combination of my blue and green strips here.
 Once completed, the QR Code looks just as it did previously on the traditional Lego board, just without the border.

The pieces stay firmly in place and are now proudly on display above my whiteboard, as you can see below.
The best thing about still scans like it did, like a regular QR Code and will take students to my YouTube Channel where I keep all my videos for them to use when revising.

I'm very impressed with the results of using my new Nimuno Loops. I even have a few rolls spare to use at home to display my Lego Minifigures I've been collecting too!!

Check out Nimuno Loops at

Monday, 14 August 2017

First Day #MTBoS

This week's blog prompt from the #MTBoS was about the first day of the school year. I'm slightly late writing/posting mine as I've only just returned from the Lake District with my little family! To read all the posts on this topic click here.

My First Day at my new school is the 4th September. It's not an INSET day. When I had my induction day at the end of June this was also my new school's INSET day to prepare for the new school year (2017-18). So, the majority of this day was spent preparing for the new school year. It means that on the 4th Sep only our new Year 7s will be attending school (years 8-11 are in for the first time on the 5th Sep). As a Year 7 form tutor this will mean that I will be busy this day as I'll have to meet with my form '7PCO' in the morning as they arrive, have assembly and then go to our form room (also my classroom). There, they will be given their timetable and Show My Homework login details. It will also give me a chance to ask them how their Summer Holidays were and generally speak with them all on how they are feeling about being at 'big school'.
As well as my new staff Induction/INSET day at the end of June I also attended the Year 6 taster day and so I have met my new form already. I even met their parents that same evening. On that day, I asked them who their favourite cartoon character/superhero was. This was because I like drawing - I find it takes my mind off things and I'm a geek, so any excuse to draw Wolverine, a Minion, Buzz/Woody, etc, I'll take it. I'm drawing each of their favourite cartoon characters over the next few weeks of the holidays in my spare time to hand to them each on our first day back together - kind of as a welcome to year 7, 'thing'. They'll get the original copy and I'll put a copy of them all on our form noticeboard so they can see all of the form's pictures together, in the one place, all year. This is something that I have done previously for my departing Y11 form and they seemed to appreciate the gesture! Luckily, I only have 13 students in my form group!

After form time, assembly and break/lunch the Year 7s will then go to Periods 4 and 5 as per their usual timetable. For me, this means I'll also get to meet my Year 7 Mathematics class for the first time period 4.
The students have been pre-set based on their KS2 data and will be moved (re-set) once we have completed their in-house assessments and compared the data.

In that first lesson together there are a number of things we will be doing...

...I'll start the lesson by greeting them at my classroom door, they'll be lined up in the corridor before coming in. I use iDoceo as my teacher's planner and do all my planning/record keeping, etc on here. I also use it for my seating plans. As such, the seating plan for the class will be on the board and they'll be asked to find their seats on entering the room.
Once sat, they will then be welcomed by myself, I'll tell them a bit about me and my general expectations when they're in my classroom. I'll then take any questions they have already about my classroom, Mathematics, etc.
The main activity for the lesson will then be the same activity we are using with all our students this year in their first lesson(s) and that is their 'lighthouse' checkpoint activity.

I will undoubtedly post more about the 'lighthouse' mathematics assessments as the year progresses, but let me just outline what they are here...
  • it's basically a series of 12 question checkpoints to assess students basic knowledge needed to access each of the new GCSE 1-9 grades.
  • The topics are broad topics that the students must know if they are to achieve each grade. Therefore lighthouse 4 checkpoints should be fully completed if a student is to be able to achieve a grade 4 in their GCSEs.
  • The lighthouse checkpoints will take place every first lesson of each half term.
  • If the student gets 12/12 they will move onto the next 'lighthouse' (grade). If they don't get 12/12 they will stay on that 'lighthouse' for the next half term/checkpoint where they'll try again to get full marks.
  • Each class/set will start the year at a predetermined 'lighthouse'. These have been set by the existing department. All the checkpoints have been printed out and students will be handed these in their first lesson. They'll do their workings in their exercise books and these will be marked in the lesson.
  • The students will be given 20-30 minutes to complete the checkpoint, their answers will then be marked before we go through any misconceptions/mistakes.
  • We have all the answers to the checkpoints and these will just simply be displayed on the IWB. Once students have moved onto different checkpoints it will be easy enough for them all to check their work at the same time as 3 or 4 checkpoints' answers can be displayed on the board at once.
  • Each checkpoint will cover the same topics/questions (the numbers are just changed between checkpoints). So, students clearly know what they need to work on to progress next time round.
  • My new department have also already set up homeworks that compliment the assessments (checkpoints) and these will subsequently be given to students each half term for them to practice the questions on their current 'lighthouse'
Here's what one of the 'lighthouse' checkpoints looks like:

'Lighthouse' 4 (Grade 4) covers: basic times tables; division; rounding; multiplying decimals; percentages of amounts; area of triangles; solving equations (unknown both sides); coordinates; simplifying expressions; finding missing angles; averages and spread and ratio.

As I briefly hinted before, these are not 'Grade 4 topics', but topics/questions students must be able to do in order to access the 'Grade 4 work'.

Unfortunately, I don't know much more than that at this stage. I've tried to Google the 'lighthouse' assessments/system etc, but didn't get very far with my search. So, for now I'll see how it all goes and will feedback how the process works in practice and how the 'lighthouses' relate to the new grading system.

That will be my first day.

I believe after school I have a new staff training session to go over some last few bits we couldn't cover on the induction day at the end of June, or that were left until the first day back as to not overload us with information.

I'm very much looking forward to my first day at my new school, meeting '7PCO' again, teaching my first lesson, using the 'lighthouse' assessments and generally getting started! Good luck to all new teachers starting their first days at their first schools and to all returning teachers on their first days. :)

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

New Display - Revision Cards

If you've read my 'New School, New Classroom 2017-18' post then you will have seen I have one main new display this Revision Cards display.

I was very lucky to meet Mr Corbett himself (lovely bloke) at the last #mathsconf up in Bristol where I purchased myself a set of his fantastic revision cards. I've waited since then to be able to put them up on display in my new classroom (I'm not usually this patient)!

Here it is!

The logistics: I stapled treasury tags to the board and punched a hole in the top left corner of each card. This way, the cards can be turned around so the students can access the QR Codes on the back of each card. I've turned a few cards on the display around already so the students can see there are two sides to each card.

How I aim to use it: Thanks to my other half's ideas too...I'm going to put the revision cards up for each topic that my classes are currently studying in our scheme of work. At the moment I've just put up the cards that relate to the first 5 units in our Edexcel SoW, but come September the cards that will be on there will be for my Y11s, Y10s and Y9s dependent on what unit they are working through at that time. All of the revision cards are hole punched and ready to go and are easily taken down/put up! I've also put a few blank 'cue cards'/'record cards' with the Unit titles on them so the students know which cards relate to which unit. In September I'll add the year group to them too so they know which cards they should focus on.
I'll obviously let them know where they can get a set of them for themselves too, but I hope the students will use them in lessons to revise their current or previous work or to get a 'heads up' on the next topic in that unit of work. My students will be encouraged to use their devices, once they've finished their work, to look up the questions on that topic using the QR codes and then complete the questions either in their exercise books, on a mini whiteboard or the cupboard whiteboard doors.

I'm looking forward to seeing how the students will work with the board. I'm hoping it'll be used to see past, present and future topics, to give students a snapshot revision on each topic and to provide them with the revision material they'll need. I'll post my reflections on how it works out later in the school year.

Thanks for your fantastic work on these!

New School, New Classroom 2017-18!

I had the excitement of going into my new school this week to 'do up' my new classroom and move all of my resources in! I spent the day there redoing the display boards and generally clearing out the room whilst trying to find new homes for all of my resources. I thoroughly enjoyed the day, especially given the ridiculous 'Secret Teacher' article this week about teachers working throughout the holidays! IMO if you want to go in and work, do so, if you don't, don't! There was no expectation on me going in and doing anything by my new HOD/school, I wanted to go in. I certainly don't feel it devalues the profession when teachers go in to school in the holidays and do work - it just shows that some teachers want to do that, just like any person would want to work in their 'out of office' hours.

So, here are a few pictures of my new room. A lot of the display material has been reused from my previous classroom display's (see blog posts here, here and here). I started taking down my displays towards the end of this school year so I had them all ready to go to the new school - I didn't want to spend time at my old school taking it all down in the holidays so used my 'gained' time to do a certain amount of this. I have put up a few new displays (mainly my revision board where I have all the corbettmaths revision cards up - I'll post a separate blog post about this and how I intend on using it)! If you want to know where I got any resources then just tweet me @mrprcollins or comment below.

 Here's the view from the 'Maths Hub' room at the back of my room towards my desk. The display board you can see will be my form's notice board and general noticeboard for all those posters you're asked to put up throughout the year. So, it's left a bit bare at the moment apart from a few of my favourite pictures/images I've collected/been drawn over the past few years.
My formulae bunting and @MissBsResources' bunting can be seen over the windows. Available here along with a whole host of other fantastic displays.
 This is the display board to the right of the IWB/whiteboard. I'm lucky to have quite a long room whereby the longest wall has an IWB in the middle, a whiteboard either side of it and then a display board both sides too. I like the symmetry!
On this board I have my 'Numeracy Shortcuts' - I couldn't think of a better name for it when I saw a tweet with the equivalent calculations. My students and I have used these loads over the past year and I believe they're essential in understanding the equivalence of the calculations. Knowing that finding 3/4 of something is the same as multiplying by 3 and then dividing by 4 (or vice versa), which is the same as multiplying by 0.75, etc massively helps when dealing with non-calculator problems. I find students often have a preferred method to work in, be it decimals, fractions, percentages or a combination of operations - so, if they know their equivalences it speeds these calculations up for them and gets them 'unstuck'.
Above this display board/whiteboard I have the square and cube numbers from @complexnumber (available on her blog here together with many other great display ideas). I think these look great and my students have always referred to them - especially when covering laws of indices and surds!

 Here's a panoramic I took from the classroom door. I didn't know you could upload these to Facebook and they then become a 360 image where you can scroll through it and tilt your phone to view around - pretty cool.
I have my 'Wall of Fame' ready to be added to this year when I get good work from students in. The blank, pegged yellow pieces of card will hold the 'work of the week' and then rest of the board is reserved for those extra special pieces of work/homework received. I have a few examples up from the past few years to show students the type of thing that will end up there!

 Similar view to the panoramic. You can see the yellow number line above the board. I use this on a daily basis and is a MUST. Honestly don't think you can have a maths classroom without one.
You might just be able to make out my large lime green calculator I've bluetacked to the whiteboard to the left of the IWB. This is great for showing students answers of sums they're doing and or quickly working out something myself in the middle of an activity. The calculator display is large enough for most students to be able to see it.
 This is the view towards the classroom door and from the cupboards near the windowed wall in my room. I love the fact the cupboard doors you can see are all whiteboard doors. I have been told they don't rub off very easily, but I managed to budge the existing ink on them after a bit of elbow grease, so I'm sure they'll do just fine - especially as I've never had the luxury of having as much whiteboard space before. I usually had to use the magic whiteboard sheets to create more space.

 Here's the 'Wall of Fame' display again (wall opposite the whiteboard/IWB wall). To the left is the corbettmaths revision card display which you can read more about here.
I'm excited to be able to put my dart board up again. It fell off the wall last year too many times so I got rid of it, but I think I've secured it better this year - time will tell. I love the mental maths involved in tallying the scores and I often through a few darts before a lesson starts to get my maths brain ticking over! I then keep the darts out of sight so the students don't 'mess about' with them. They then come out when a student/group of students are finished or when it's their turn to do some darts. I've used it as a reward in the past and it often engages the more reluctant students to do some maths without realising it!

 You can't really see much more in this picture other than the 'finished' letters. The little unit underneath them is my 'challenge drawers'. In them are the AQA 90 problems and a whole bunch of other resources that my other half used in her classroom (she's on maternity leave at the moment having not long had our daughter so I've stolen them off her for the meantime)! I've put them here as it's right next to the whiteboard cupboard doors so they can work the problems out on here, or just take them back to their desk. I just need to label the trays up as the problems in each are of different levels of difficulty.
Over the 'Maths Hub' door I have the 'horizontal' and 'vertical' words to remind myself more than anything - i know which is which but always blurt out the opposite one first when wanting the other. I do the same with the colours 'yellow' and 'white'. No idea why, its just a 'thing'!

I've then put my revision memes from my previous Y11 revision board (see here) and my constructions comics (see here) on the wall next to it as there was a blank space!

So there it is.

I've tried to put up those displays that I/my students have used most/referred to over the past few years as well as having those images, etc that make the room feel like mine, that I like and make the place more interesting.

I still want to put up my artist playing cards that I've had up previously as they're great to look at, but I'll do that when going back in September!
Very excited to see what my new department thinks of the place and what the kids will say when they have their first lesson with me - hopefully they'll enjoy learning in my room.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Goals #MTBoS

Having not blogged for ages I saw @jreulbach's tweet announcing the return of 'Sunday Funday', a weekly blog prompt for Maths Teachers (mainly in the US), and this was the inspiration I needed to get back to it. Furthermore, I'm changing roles from September, stepping down from Head of Maths and returning to being just a normal Teacher of Mathematics in another of my local schools. I'm very excited about my change as I will be getting back to what I love doing - teaching, and not worrying about all the other external pressures being HOD brings (<-- see previous blog post).

So, this week's prompt is 'Goals'.

My 'goals' for this coming school year are wholly centred on getting back to focusing on my classroom teaching and teaching the best Maths lessons I can to the students I will teach. So, here's a few things (in no particular order) I'm hoping to achieve this 'goals'...
  • Establish myself in my new school. Get to know my students, their parents/carers and my colleagues
  • Develop my teaching - all those new topics that have dropped into the new 1-9 GCSE I taught for the first time this year just gone by need developing and resourcing further as well as continuing to hone my craft in general
  • Get back to my blogging/tweeting/youtubing ways of old. I just haven't found time to do this as often as I'd have liked since being HOD and I thoroughly enjoyed them when I was a classroom teacher previously and it helped me reflect on my teaching and my students' learning.
  • Be a great dad! I became a dad for the first time back in May and intend to be the best I can for my (currently 3-month old) daughter

I'm very excited for what the new school year will bring. I'm off to my new school on Monday to set up my classroom, which I will blog about here next week (watch this space). Then, it's 4 more weeks of enjoying time with the family before starting back on Sep 4th with my new Year 7 form group '7PCO'!

I'm glad to see the return of the Sunday Funday blogposts and will enjoy reading others' posts.


My time as Head of Mathematics has come to an end. As a result of doing the role for a couple of years I'm also moving schools for September. A lot has happened over the past few years, which I will reflect on below.

The year before I became Head of Maths I was 'encouraged' to take part in our school's middle leader's course in preparation for what would then become my role as Head of Maths, a role given to me by my previous Head at the school. She later went on to pastures new and my role started under the new headship. In honesty, I wasn't ready to be Head of the department, but with the previous HOD going part-time and soon to retire there was a need that I filled, willingly. The last two years have been turbulent, to say the least, with lots of difficulties faced and experienced gained. I'll outline my pros and cons, those I can remember, and am sure I'll look back on this later in my career when the role may be more suitable to me?!

  • I was able to say that I was Head of Maths at the school I once went to as a kid, the school I previously worked at as a cover supervisor and had taught for 2 years before I got the role. I was proud at this achievement and thought I'd spend the rest of my teaching career at the school.
  • The role bought with it the little things that allowed me to be proud and say that I was Head of Maths - being able to put it on my e-mail signature, my classroom door, the footer to all letters sent out to parents (although the first one to year 7 parents had 'Mrs P Collins' on it), to hand out the UKMT Maths Challenge awards at the presentation evening at the end of the year, to hold parents' information evenings to Year 11 parents regarding GCSE preparation, etc. I enjoyed being the Head of Maths at these times - including parents eves regardless of receiving concerns, complaints or thanks.
  • I feel I was always well regarded and respected by students at the school before I became head of Maths, but the role certainly added an air of authority which meant students never really argued with me or against me when dealing with issues within the department. I was always someone they could come and find if they weren't happy about something and settling issues between students and staff was eased by this authority I developed.
  • I'm a very organised person in general and this helped me revel in the admin tasks such as allocating classes/staffing, setting students, selecting intervention groups, etc. I was able to take certain 'trickier' students into my own classes (I knew I'd only end up dealing with their behaviour myself anyway so figured they may as well be taught by me). I was able to deal with classes that had had disruption in the previous year due to supply/cover issues and ensure students were with a member of staff they could/would learn from - the relationship was right in most cases and there were only a few clashes of personality we ever had to deal with.
  • I enjoy dealing with parents. This may sound weird or the last 'pro' I could list, but I do genuinely like communicating with parents, listening to their concerns and trying my best to deal with them. I feel I have 'a way' when it comes to responding to e-mails or telephone messages whereby they feel listened to and any issues were resolved fairly quickly.
  • In my first year as HOD the school's A*-C % increased by 5%, a modest rise from the previous year. Furthermore, I oversaw the change to the new 1-9 GCSE curriculum and am hopeful of good results this year - our Y11s this year were fantastic and couldn't have done anymore so whatever 'good results' look like this Summer, I hope our kids achieved them!
  • Another big positive from being head of Maths is that I got to know a lot more students within the school. You get to know them from doing the setting lists, when dropping into classes across the department, when looking at results from assessments and dealing with behaviour issues and weekly rewards, when dealing with parents e-mails and messages, etc. 
  • The TLR was nice too, but not worth the 'cons' below... 
  • Being Head of Maths meant more 'free' time on my timetable, which meant fewer lessons/classes to teach. This was the biggest issue for me when reflecting on reasons to find a role elsewhere. Being head of Maths took away from doing what I love...teaching. Dealing with all the other issues below meant my time was taken away from being able to develop my teaching, plan and prepare lessons/resources and essentially do the one thing I came into the profession for, to teach Maths to kids to the best of my ability.
  • I also had no form group as being Head of Maths, well until Jan this academic year when the maths intervention tutor group was set up. Something I didn't think I would miss too much, but did once I no longer had one. I missed the daily relationships with the tutor group and just having that contact with a group of students each day. The time gained wasn't worth what was missed.
  • Being 'bad cop'. I hated having to go and do 'book trawls' (scrutiny), homework checks on staff, SIMs checks of behaviour and subsequent phone calls, but mostly, following up on issues/concerns raised in line management meetings that I personally had no concerns with and didn't agree with. As a result, I found myself right in the middle of SLT and my colleagues, neither of them happy at times throughout the year(s), which I had to mediate and take.
  • That being said, line management meetings - the first year these weren't too bad as I used them to learn my role and guide me. However, this past year they've just been a continual one-way conversation on what needs to be done/what I should be doing, as opposed to any conversation as to what I would have wanted to do/felt needed doing.
  • The extra meetings you have to be a part of as Head of Maths take up more of your time, usually after school or in your 'free' time. The main negative with this, however, was being privy to the extra information discussed at middle leaders meetings and with the head. As a classroom teacher I was blissfully unaware of these conversations and I'd much rather have not been a part of them. It's just all added pressure and stress.
  • The general pressure and level of accountability of being Head of Maths is also a mahoosive step up from being a normal classroom teacher. You're the one in the firing line when anything goes wrong and you're rarely appreciated when things go've just done your job!
  • Cover/Supply issues - oh my god the cover/supply issues! I had seen this happen in other departments across the school previously, but when a member of staff the year before I started as HOD handed their notice in on the last day of the summer half term we were left without a permanent teacher in my first term as HOD and throughout my 2 years we probably had around 10 members of supply staff to deal with. I had no idea of the work this caused the HOD. The lessons I had to plan for these supply staff/classes was ridiculous, the complaints from parents, the unhappy students who didn't take to the constant changes (understandably), took up the bulk of my time as HOD, this should have been the first bullet point!
I could go on with the 'cons', but I don't want this to steam roll into a rant. All I'd say is that nothing prepared me for the role, the stress and work I had to deal with and it's just not worth doing the job for the 'pros'.
So, it was in February that I decided to interview elsewhere for a Teacher of Maths role and I now can't wait to be moving back into the classroom where I can focus on being the best teacher I can be and delivering the best lessons I can for the kids I teach. I'm looking forward to going to my new school on Monday to set up my classroom (details to follow), to having a year 7 form group for the first time in my career, to running a lunchtime club, to getting involved with extra curricular events I've not felt able to the last few years and to just generally being happy at work again - I don't want to become part of that statistic of teachers who left within the first x amount of years!
There may come a time later in my career where I may be asked to step into the fray again, I'd imagine it may only be to cover for a colleague or if the school was in need, but I'd certainly be better prepared then! But for now, I'm happy in my classroom and seeing what opportunities present themselves there.
Onwards and upwards...

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Interventions, Interventions!

It's been a while since my last post, way back in October after the #MathsMeet I organised. A lot has been going on since, at school; focused on Y11 interventions, hence the title to this post.
I thought it would be useful to highlight what we're doing with our Y11s and what is/isn't working (in my opinion).

Since the end of Y10 the year group were put into different tutor groups, based on their needs following their Y10 mock exams. These tutor groups are with specific teachers based on their subject that were already in the Y10 tutor team. There is a Maths, English, Science, 'aspirational', 'vocational' and then 2 'normal' tutor groups. The focus of these tutor groups is that twice a week they will come away from the normal tutor time schedule and focus on subject specific work. The students were placed into a tutor group based on their greatest need, following the results of their Y10 mocks and final report predictions. They stayed in these groups going into Y11 and have recently been rejigged based on the Y11 mocks and final reports and will now stay like this for the remainder of their time with us.
I, as Head of Maths, was not given a tutor group at the start of the year, but after the Y11 mocks it was decided that both myself and the Head of English would pick up a form of those students in our 'key groups' that needed additional support in either or both of the subjects.
As of the start of this term I was therefore given a group of 16 students that I now do Mathematics with every tutor time, except on Mondays when they have assembly. The head of English does similar with her tutor group. The other tutor groups now have slightly fewer students due to this creation of 2 additional groups.
So, there are now 2 tutor groups of students solely focusing on their Mathematics at least 2 days a week in form time. My colleague takes the other tutor group and is supported by another of our colleagues with that group.
With the group that I have, we do the daily foundation revision calendar questions created by @mrchadburn and this has been working well, with the students writing key facts/notes along with each daily solution in their exercise books I gave them. In addition to this, once we've finished with the daily question, they are given time to work through a pack of questions I printed for each, which includes a set of questions on every topic covered on the foundation GCSE. They are also given the opportunity to complete their Mathematics homework, classwork or to ask me any questions they have from what they have covered/revised individually.
Problems with the tutor group include low attendance from a few students placed in the group, meaning I've rarely seen them since the start of this term.
However, other than this, I personally think the group I have are benefiting from the extra time spent focusing on their Mathematics. I personally like now having the group. I missed having a form group, given that I had one previously for 3 years and enjoyed building the relations with the previous group I had, some of which I still hear from now and have seen at parents' evenings when they have accompanied their younger siblings. I've had e-mails from parents too to tell me they've passed their retakes and even a few of them have visited the school to say hi (it's always the ones you least expect that return to say hi)! These are the nice things the job brings that you otherwise miss from not being a form tutor - the little things that make a difference on a day that you're not as enjoying as much as the last; it's nice to know you're making a difference and that what you do is appreciated.
Hopefully, we will see an improvement from the mock results to the next assessment we do with the Y11s and will see some evidence that the extra sessions during tutor time are working.

In addition to the tutor groups, the students placed in both the Mathematics and English tutor groups have also been selected to be taken out of core PE (when it backs onto English or Maths) and to do an additional hour of one of the subjects. Some students are doing both and so are also being taken out of RE, which is then given back to them somewhere else in the timetable (I have no idea of the minutia behind all of the timetabling here, just when the Mathematics sessions are on)!
My colleague takes one side of the year for their double Mathematics lesson (1 lesson of their core PE and then the subsequent lesson where they would have normally had Maths) and another colleague (the deputy head) takes the other side of the year. We've only been doing these sessions for a week and have decided that they're not working as well as they could be due to the fact that 1) the students are begrudging missing their PE lesson and 2) can't cope with 2 hours of Maths back-to-back. So, I believe going forward they will be taken out of PE as per usual for the one hour and then go back to their normal Maths lesson with their normal teacher. Whether this actually solves the 2 problems above I'm not sure yet, but we'll see how it goes!

Like previous years we're also doing the usual after school sessions. These have changed in terms of what we've been doing in them. Before Christmas we were identifying students in our classes that were under performing based on their target grades and had them back with their class teachers working on specific work, chosen by the class teacher - just the fact we had them coming back and they were doing some Maths in addition to what they otherwise would have been doing was a start. Since the new year we have made these sessions far more specific with certain topics covered in each session after school on Mondays with certain members of staff in the department. We are each taken a couple of sessions each aimed at either Foundation or Higher tier students. The topics we chose were based on those topics that regularly come up in the exams (based on previous exams of idea what will be the 'norm' come the new 1-9 GCSE)! Students were then chosen for these sessions based on who were still working below their target grades and needed the extra support, also those students that had missed some work or just had asked for extra help. These sessions are then repeated each Friday for any student in the year group that feels they need to work on Pythagoras or tree diagrams or whatever is being covered each week. The timetable of these sessions is sent to Y11 tutors and we give out reminders in our lessons as to what sessions are on each week, where and with what member of staff. We also have our faculty assistants print off reminder slips that are given to form tutors each morning to hand to students that are expected to attend the sessions on a Monday. This is happening in other subjects too especially English and Science.
All of these sessions and which students are required are kept centrally on the 'Intervention Bulletin' that one of our deputy heads collates and sends out each week. This avoids any clashes with subjects requiring the same student(s) on the same days. Maths and English are given priority.

I think that's it, well apart from the obvious teacher-led in-class day-to-day interventions, use of our TAs in department, etc.

It's a lot.

I think, for some students it's far too much, given that they are doing the same or expected to do the same in other subjects across the school too. It's overkill for some.
However, for certain students, it's what they need and have, in a few cases, asked for. They're motivated to attend everything they're asked to attend because they know they need help and want to be doing better. For one such student, we'll call him Bruce (because I recently watch Finding Nemo and find the shark funny), it is working wonders for him. He came to me prior to the mocks and was worried that he was struggling in the class he was in, he felt he was behind others and felt he knew nothing. He then moved into my class and was given the foundation paper for his mocks to hopefully build his confidence. He got a grade 5 on his mocks and has continued in my class, learning all the Higher topics that the class are still covering (we've still got too much to get through, but that's for another post)! He is in my Maths tutor group, he's in the timetabled intervention sessions, coming out of core PE and he's coming to every session after school. And, for him, it seems to be working. He's far more confident, he's coping with all the higher content we're covering and he will be sitting the Higher paper in his next assessment as a result.
It was even commented to me (and the Head, deputy heads, etc in a recent meeting) that Bruce wasn't looking forward to moving into my tutor group because he'd have to do maths every morning, and just simply liked the tutor group he was in previously. But, since he's been there he's really liking it and said 'that man's going to get me my GCSE', which made my day that day.

So, for some all these interventions can have a great effect on them and their confidence. But for others I wonder how much good it is doing and potentially how much harm it could be doing - some times too much of something isn't a good thing and they may be better off just being left to it themselves, but I don't think that would be 'allowed'?!

I do wonder if we did nothing whether it would be much different, in terms of the students outcomes, to what we are currently doing. Given the amount of effort put in by myself and my colleagues I do at times wonder if  it's all worth it? What if we did nothing. Other than just teach good lessons and offer the kids a time after school once a week to do some revision and get help. Trust them to do what they need to be doing for themselves, rather than make all these sessions compulsory and punish them every time they failed to attend, etc. The trouble is, how would we know for sure what did or didn't make the difference. Equally, if these sessions and interventions continue to be directed from above how do we ensure we pick the right students to be in each form of intervention, all of it or none at all. It's not a 'one size fits all'...they'll work for some and have no effect on others.

Fingers crossed for them all come May/June.