Can your C grade A level students be taught to solve problems?

Thursday 9th January 2020

In this recent CPD at Wheatley Park School in Oxford, we did our best to persuade local teachers that they can. There were three sessions where we looked at long, medium and short term strategies.

Long term strategies involve carefully planning the transition from Years 11 to 12 based on Jo Sibley’s ‘6 Concepts’ project. The basic idea is that if you master a handful of key ideas, these students will struggle so much less with basic skills that you'll have more time to embed problem solving.

Our medium term section encouraged problem solving from day 1 of Year 12, using problem-solving questions at the beginning, middle and end of every topic. It reminds me of the old AQA Use of Maths qualification where the idea was to take a problem and then ‘discover’ the maths needed to solve it.

For the short term strategies, we looked at a particular question from the 2019 exams and analysed the skills students need to be using to solve the problem. From there it was demonstrated that, although there is a shortage of modelling and problem-solving resources, we can create our own by taking the structure out of old legacy questions.

Feedback from the course was very positive:

  • "Practical ideas."
  • "Plenty of food for thought."
  • "Good to have the opportunity to overview the whole scheme of work from a different viewpoint."
  • "Good ideas to take back and discuss."

We’d love to deliver this in different areas in the South so, if you are interested, please get touch with your local area co-ordinators:

By Lesley Swarbrick

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