There are fewer achievements more important for today’s 16-year-olds than a Maths GCSE. And that’s not just because you need it to move onto your next step but also because, along with English, it is one of the only GCSEs you continue to be asked to produce well into your working life. The stakes could hardly be higher.
Schools can afford a certain kind of ruthlessness when it comes to developing the minds of young people. Students who may not achieve a C-grade are given labels such as “at risk”. Why the C-grade? Surprisingly, not just because a C is considered to be a pass. The uncomfortable reality is that, to a very great extent, schools draw the line here because that is one of ways they themselves are judged. Resources are heavily targeted at “at risk” students to help as many students as possible to cross the C-grade finish line.
This is by no means the whole picture. There are, after all, myriad other ways in which schools are judged and resources allocated. But, certainly, the C-grade spell (and its equivalents under the new GCSEs) has been well and truly cast over English schools and looms large when middle and senior leaders make resourcing decisions.
When schools have done their fantastic work and you, the parent, are left feeling like you want to do more, it is not uncommon to contemplate providing additional support for your child.
Private tuition is one way in which parents often look to help improve their child’s maths; in parts of the South East of England, 40% of students will receive help from a private tutor at some stage. But the cost can be prohibitive. It would be inaccurate to believe that all tutors are on the ‘supertutor’ salaries you may have read about in the press, yet even an averagely-priced tutor can be out of the reach of some families.
That’s why we are looking to start community revision groups for Year 11 students here in Southampton. Tapping into a group of enthusiastic undergraduate students from the University of Southampton, we’ll support students to work on examination-style materials in small groups. A fraction of the price of a private tutor, we hope the sessions will be an affordable alternative for parents looking to give their teenagers an additional piece of support in the run-up to their GCSE exams.
To find out more about GCSE revision groups, contact me now!