On Friday many teachers up and down the country breathed an audible sigh of relief as they posted off their controlled assessments and waved goodbye to the last few years’ work as they wing their way to their examiner.
For the last few weeks I have felt like Year 11 take me on a roller coaster ride every lesson. I read amazing ideas online about what I could try with Year 11 to keep them engaged in the revision process and really get them to understand what they still need to do, and its definitely been harder for me this term as I only took over as HoD at this school in January so I have been getting to know these new students since then. I’ve had the challenge of completing the syllabus (and hoping that we’ve managed to cover everything), ensuring that the final CA was completed and moping up any that remained from previous runs, as well as encouraging those with poor grades to give up their time to commit to working on an extra task with me. Challenging at the best of times and I have felt quite worried at moments when I look at the data in front of me, and how they achieved overall in CAs and then with the Listening and Reading exams added in. Then today, I decided to simply give them a full reading past paper. They haven’t done one since March as they had also done them in February and January and I felt that it was getting too much for them, and they hadn’t yet gone through the full array of topics. Well.By George. I think they’ve got it. I was pleasantly surprised (and I think so were they) that the majority of them were achieving a C grade or higher. Even those who are going to be entered for Foundation. It gave them (and me!) a much needed boost! I use a tracking spreadsheet so that simply by entering their marks it calculates the UMS for the exam and then pulls all the UMS into an overall front page so I can see what grade each child is on for each exam. It is very useful and I highly recommend using something similar. I have a tab for each of the different skills and tiers, and I also log exactly what they get on each question so that if there is a pattern of difficulty emerging, I can see exactly where they are having problems.
With just over a week to go until the exam I will be doing two more listenings and one more reading paper, and hopefully the students will begin to see that a) they CAN do this b) they need to revise certain topic areas and c) spending 8 minutes on a half an hour exam is NOT sufficient.
Good luck to all of you working so hard at the moment to help our students get the best grades they can and fingers crossed for the summer!