Preparing Y11 students for the new 9-1 GCSE exams- meet the WAFF!
Hi everyone! I write to share what we’re doing at Wyvern College this year in the final six months to prepare our Year 11s for the new 9-1 exams. This may or may not be of interest to you. As HOD at Wyvern, I have been very preoccupied with putting this preparation schedule together this year. I think it’s more important than ever that this absolutely right as the students go into the new 9-1 exams.
You have to rely on your preparation. You got to really be passionate and try to prepare more than anyone else, and put yourself in a position to succeed, and when the moment comes you got to enjoy, relax, breathe and rely on your preparation so that you can perform and not be anxious or filled with doubt.
Trial exams feedback
Firstly, our 11s sat the Edexcel Secure Mock during their Christmas Trial exams. This was a very useful exercise and reinforced the message to both students and their teachers that this new GCSE is a whole new world in many regards. Our teachers are busy marking the papers and entering the score that each student attained on each question into a in-house built question-level-analysis spreadsheet.
On trial results day in late January students are going to receive a personalised summary of their performance. This will show their performance on each question, the topics they relate to and importantly, advice on what they need to do to act on their weaknesses in the form of a clip number on MathsWatch that relates to that topic. We call this the ‘WAFF’, short for ‘Wyvern Assessment Feedback Form’. This is a tounge-in-cheek nod to PiXL who seem to want to give everything an acronym!
The WAFF for each student is generated in Excel by some macro code that I wrote. It’s all automated using the question-level-analysis data input by teachers. Here is a draft example of one of the personalised summaries the students will receive:
We had to estimate the grade boundaries as Edexcel did not release any when the Secure Mock paper was published. There is an Edexcel ResultsPlus service this year where you can submit your results and compare them to others nationally. I’m not sure if they are going to give indicative boundaries once they have a representative national sample, but if they do it will provide a good check on our own assumptions regarding grade boundaries.
The feedback sheets will be shared via hardcopy and email with students. Parents are also going to receive an email with their child’s feedback sheet attached. Other stakeholders such as tutors and mentors will be sent the sheets by request.
Students are expected to work their way through their amber and red topics, watching the relevant MathsWatch videos, making notes and then completing the excellent new interactive questions that have been added to the platform recently.
In addition to the feedback sheets, students and parents will also be emailed full annotated solutions to the mock papers and expected to make corrections on their own papers. I cannot share that here for obvious reasons…!
Practice Paper Revision Programme- Churchill Maths Papers
One of the most important components of our department’s historical success is the practice paper revision programme that we run between Xmas and the May exams each academic year with our Y11 students. I inherited this departmental approach from my talented and wise predecessor and it will certainly never change under my tenure!
Students complete a full GCSE practice paper for homework each week. These are not assessments, but ‘guided learning tools’ aimed at developing students’ ability to jump between topics and not only execute the right strategies, but also to select them. The papers are marked on a fast turnaround (typically over 2-3 days such as a weekend) and fed back to students in class. Key questions that the class struggled on are gone through with students making green pen corrections. As they work their way through paper-after-paper the scores pick up and we find that the average student typically improves by 1 and 1/3 grades in terms of formal exam performance during the 6 months they do the weekly papers. Many do much better than this.
After-school and lunchtime sessions are offered by teachers to support students in working on their papers.
The students who get the most from the programme are the ones who can learn independently, looking things up as necessary. This is a mantra that is repeated regularly to students. ‘No blanks’ is the message along with ‘it’s ok not to know it yet, but it’s a call to action to look it up rather than an excuse not to do it.’
To support students in knowing where to look for help on a question, this year we are replacing the front covers of our practice papers with bespoke ones that link every question to the MathsWatch video related to that topic. Here is an example:
After the papers are marked students will be expected to fill in the number of marks they scored on each question in the table on the cover sheet, thus making them aware of their strengths and weaknesses identified on that paper.
Personally, after marking each paper I do a quick email to all students and copy in all parents to give praise to the students who performed well and/or made excellent progress that week, report whether the class average has risen, report which students did not submit papers on time etc. I try to build a ‘we’re in this together as a team’ feeling using colloquial language. For me it’s important parents see the quality of feedback their child is receiving and also know what they can do to support.
Which papers are we using? For me the choice is an obvious one- I believe the Churchill Maths practice papers are by far the best product out there to prepare students for the new-style 9-1 papers.
The Churchill Maths papers are tremendous and certainly capture the increase level of challenge, expectations for problem-solving and additional content of the new spec. If anything, they go beyond, but that’s a good thing… ‘train them with a pack on their backs’ etc…
I really cannot talk highly enough of the Chruchill Papers which are very reasonably priced and Shaun Armstrong, their creator, is a very accommodating and caring experienced examiner, teacher and top man.
There are sample papers to download from the Churchill Maths site if you’d like to check them out. They also do practice papers in the style of the OCR and AQA papers, not just for Edexcel.
CorbettMaths Revision Postcards
Finally, I couldn’t end this post without mentioning the outstanding CorbettMaths Revision Postcards. All our Y11 students will be given the opportunity to purchase a set of these tremendous revision resources. The QR code link to video lessons and exam practice questions on the back of each postcard is a very neat touch.
Do feel free to share what you’re doing with your Y11s in the comments section. Also, feel free to get in touch if you’d like to chat about the WAFFs or our bespoke practice paper front covers.