Lead teacher of computing and leader of virtual learning at The Garibaldi School in Nottinghamshire, Kevin Chatten knows all about the importance of EdTech. Here, Kevin explores how the award-winning GCSEPod platform has made a difference to both staff and students since being implemented in 2020.
The Garibaldi School
Founded in the 1960s, have gone from strength-to-strength, innovating education over the years for 11–18-year-olds. With their built-to-last mantra, they strive to offer an engaging educational experience.
We have around 900 students across years 7-13 and despite being based in a relatively deprived area, in 2019 (the last year performance league tables were published pre-COVID) we were ranked as the top performing school in Mansfield and sixth across the whole of Nottinghamshire.
Always looking for ways to improve performance, at the start of the 2020-2021 academic year we introduced the award-winning GCSEPod teaching and learning platform.
The GCSEPod platform built around 3-to-5-minute bursts of expert-written, exam-filtered video content – known as ‘Pods’, covers 28 subjects and all exam boards. This was the perfect tool to increase independent learning and improve student outcomes.
For teachers, the platform has saved a huge amount of time. The ability to track and monitor progress, engagement and collate results, as well as the average score for each question, allows staff to easily identify gaps in the students’ knowledge. Armed with this information, lesson plans can be evaluated and adapted accordingly.
As all schools will appreciate, the ongoing challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to adopt remote, blended and flipped learning and I’d say that GCSEPod played a crucial role in making students feel supported throughout.
It’s important to remember that monitoring independent study wasn’t something most of us had experience of. One of our main concerns was not being able to intervene soon enough if a student began struggling or stopped engaging, however GCSEPod has helped massively with this.
The success of the platform can be seen across several different areas. In fact, in the summer of 2021 Year 11 students achieved well above expectation in their Teacher Assessed Grade, results that mirrored the school’s recent track record of above average progress.
Closer analysis of results demonstrated a strong correlation with positive student performance and high levels of GCSEPod usage.
Introduced back in 2016, the Progress 8 performance score is used to demonstrate the progress a student makes from the end of primary school to the close of their secondary education. It’s seen as an accountable measure of how much value a particular secondary school has added to their students’ learning compared to their counterparts.
The majority of schools have a Progress 8 score of between -1 and +1 meaning, on average, that statistically a student at a secondary school recording the latter grade can expect to achieve 10 more points in their GCSEs.
Due to the pandemic most exams and assessments haven’t taken place over the last two full academic years, but in 2019 The Garibaldi School achieved a well above average Progress 8 score of +0.47, with 56 per cent of our students gaining a Grade 5 or above in their English and maths GCSEs.
More recently, I decided to analyse the correlation between our students’ Progress 8 scores and the average number of Pods watched. The results were truly enlightening. The figures show that the 20 students with the lowest results only watched an average of 39 Pods over the course of the academic year.
Those who watched an average of 216 Pods achieved between 0.0 and 0.4 grades higher than expected. Viewing 282 Pods – just 66 more – saw between a 0.5 and 0.9 grade increase. Those who watched an average of 376 Pods scored between 1.0 and 1.5 grades higher, and the biggest users who accessed an average of 615 Pods, elevated their grades between 1.6 and 3.0.
- Viewing 282 Pods – saw between a 0.5 and 0.9 grade increase 18% 18%
- Viewing 376 Pods – saw between a 1.0 and 1.5 grade increase 30% 30%
- Viewing 615 Pods – saw between a 1.6 and 3.0 grade increase 60% 60%
Of course, GCSEPod is just one tool supporting a bigger picture but it’s certainly an impressive table of results and I believe there is a connection. Yes, you could argue that a student able to hold themselves accountable and regularly log-in to GCSEPod would perform well regardless, but the platform is certainly part of the formula alongside our intervention, enrichment, and bespoke student support initiatives.
The team at GCSEPod have always been open to working alongside our teachers to make improvements, especially around the assessment element. As a teacher, I find the attitude of GCSEPod very forward thinking as they are continually wanting to improve. With every improvement, GCSEPod becomes a more powerful resource in terms of what it can do to help staff and students.
I feel we have come a long way with GCSEPod in just one year, having already opened it up to students across the school from year 7. We hope that this will help familiarise younger pupils with the platform and get them used to using it as part of their long-term learning and revision. If everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet, then we are giving our students the best chance possible to achieve greater personalised learning both inside and outside school – and GCSEPod is integral to helping achieve that.
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