Case Study

Top Progress 8 scores

“We identified a correlation between high GCSEPod usage and P8, so we promoted GCSEPod more heavily for 2018-19. That year saw more than double the number of Pods watched with 16,313 and a P8 of 0.73 for the school (up from the previous year’s 0.17)”



Hodge Hill Girls School

Hodge Hill Girls’ School sits in one of Birmingham’s most deprived areas, but its Progress 8 score at the end of Key Stage 4 is among the top 200 in England. Heavy promotion of the online GCSEPod learning platform is one of the factors being attributed to this outstanding success.

Assistant Head Claire Middlehurst shares their experience…

The latest must-have fashion accessory at Hodge Hill Girls’ School isn’t a chunky choker, talking-point tights or 70s throwback platform shoes. It’s a GCSEPod pin badge.

Only a small number of students are currently sporting one of the badges, but assistant head teacher Claire Middlehurst says “they are a much sought after fashion item. Only the top three GCSEPod users in each year group over the course of a month receive a badge, and we currently have between 20 and 30 girls walking around wearing theirs.

Hodge Hill Girls’ School, which overlooks the M6 motorway and stands in one of Birmingham’s most deprived wards, has been a longstanding GCSEPod subscriber.

It was five years ago that the school which has 750 students aged 11-16, signed up to the education on demand tool with its thousands of revision videos – known as Pods – that are designed to squeeze exactly the right amount of knowledge needed for exam success into three to five minute chunks that can be watched on the go on mobile devices, tablets and PCs.

GCSEPod has proved its worth since the beginning. But as Hodge Hill Girls’ School’s GCSEPod lead, Claire is always looking for new ways to make the award-winning mobile learning and revision platform as appealing as possible for her students.

And the pin badges along with other reward schemes which sees the top GCSEPod users each week across all year groups publicly lauded on school notice boards and in bulletins to parents – culminating in end of term treats such as cinema and bowling trips for the highest performers – is helping nurture interest and a healthy sense of competition.

Claire says: “For us as a school it is about the visibility. We have always had students using GCSEPod, but not as much as this year. Alongside other measures we have in place in school, GCSEPod is an important learning tool for us and we want our students to embrace it”.

This increased usage has not only had a positive effect on students exam grades, but Hodge Hill Girls’ School’s Progress 8 and other performance related results.

Hodge Hill Girls’ School’s latest P8 score of 0.73 is well above the national average – a vast improvement on 2016 when the school stood at -0.05.

GCSEPod usage in the 2017-18 academic year saw 7,673 pods viewed across the school. Claire says: “We identified a correlation between high GCSEPod usage and P8, so we promoted GCSEPod more heavily for 2018-19.” 

“Heavy promotion of GCSEPod was one of a number of strategies tried in the school. It is virtually impossible to attribute the progress to one strategy, but GCSEPod definitely helped.

“Our lowest 20 GCSEPod users achieved an average P8 of 0.2 – still positive but markedly below our top 20 users. There is a clear gap, and what the results show is that GCSEPod has the ability to positively help students when it is used well.”

Hodge Hill Girls’ School has seen results improve across the board since 2016. Attainment 8 currently stands at 50.58, whilst EBacc entry is 75% – up from 45% in 2016. The percentage of students achieving EBacc at grades 9-4 is 47%.

The Government’s ambition is to see 75% of students studying the EBacc subject combination at GCSE by 2022, with 90% by 2025. Hodge Hill Girls’ School is already well on the way to meeting the latter target.

GCSEPod covers all exam boards and over 27 subjects, and Claire says its breath of knowledge is an “excellent” EBacc support resource.

It is also proving invaluable in other ways. A high number of Hodge Hill Girls’ School’s students have English as a second language. “The visual manner in which the Pods are presented combined with the way the central facts, words, messages and diagrams are clearly and precisely presented on screen, means that students for whom English isn’t their first language, can still get the key messages,” Claire reveals.

Everyone from teachers to students enjoys using GCSEPod across Key Stages 3 and 4. In the younger age groups it is being used for pre-tutoring, so students already have a knowledge base before embarking on their GCSEs.

The online learning platform has proved particularly useful in history, English literature, the sciences and languages, in encouraging students to learn independently, and helping teachers monitor progress.

Claire is impressed with the way GCSEPod is being constantly updated to reflect current trends and changes in education needs and is looking forward to using another innovation – Check & Challenge.

Usually when students practise multiple choice questions, they can guess and get the answers right. It can present a skewed picture to the teacher who believes everyone has grasped a topic.

But Check & Challenge is different in that it evaluates student responses, providing scaffolded support via hints, multiple choice options and feedback reports.

It will be another invaluable resource in helping Hodge Hill Girls’ School’s students reach their full potential. They are historically ambitious with many going into medicine and public sector jobs such as the police and teaching, as well as apprenticeships.

“GCSEPod has helped significantly in raising standards. I believe both the school and our students would be in a very different position without both it and the other strategies we have introduced,” Claire says.

The Results

“This year we had more than double the number of Pods watched with 16,313 and a P8 of 0.73 for the school (up from the previous year’s 0.17). Our top 20 GCSEPod users watched an average of 393 Pods each and achieved a typical P8 of 1. Of these, 10 achieved a P8 of 1 or above and three realised a P8 of 2 or above.

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