Case Study: GCSEPod – A key brick in the Pendle Vale Jenga tower
Pendle Vale College, Lancashire
In the past two years Pendle Vale College, has secured some of the highest Progress and Attainment 8 scores across the county which Assistant Head Teacher Matthew Hardwick proudly attributes to the successful teaching and intervention strategies including GCSEPod.
“GCSEPod is a powerful tool to improve attainment through study and revision and to promote out of hours learning. It can be no coincidence that some of our highest GCSEPod users have also achieved the highest Progress 8 scores.”
Matthew Hardwick, Assistant Head Teacher
In the past two years Pendle Vale College, a co-educational secondary school in Nelson Lancashire, has secured some of the highest Progress and Attainment 8 scores across the county which Assistant Head Teacher Matthew Hardwick proudly attributes to the successful teaching and intervention strategies adopted in school and the popular wooden game of skill, Jenga.
Matthew, who uses the analogy of a giant Jenga tower, made up of many bricks, to describe the school’s intervention strategies, believes that while some bricks are inevitably more important than others, the removal of one small piece can cause the tower to topple.
Keen to keep their Jenga tower on solid foundations, the school has successfully taken on board a number of PiXL initiatives, making particularly good use of the ‘war boards’ strategy to track and monitor student progress; an initiative which was singled out for praise in the school’s recent Ofsted report.
Pendle Vale has also successfully adopted GCSEPod across the school which Matthew believes has provided one of the key components to stabilise their tower, and indeed, help it to flourish.
Matthew believes the successful combination of the ‘war boards’, together with strategies such as GCSEPod has made a real difference.
He said: “We have lots of strategies in place to support student progress, which act like blocks in a tower. We would place GCSEPod as a brick in the same tower as other KPI bricks such as attendance or participation, in out-of-school revision workshops. We monitor the progress of our students very closely and successfully, with teachers, curriculum leaders and pastoral teams all taking a close interest in the progress being made by our students. Our ‘war boards’ are regularly updated to reflect current data, with plans for intervention being made from them. Whilst GCSEPod is only one of a number of intervention strategies, it is without a doubt a hugely important one as it is so easy to track usage and assess knowledge amongst target groups or specific individuals.”
He added: “We first subscribed to GCSEPod simply as an additional learning resource to help students to learn outside of the classroom and whilst it brought some benefits we did not feel its real value. However, for the last three years we have used GCSEPod as a key strategic part of our revision and intervention package and, as a result, the numbers of students engaging with the content has soared.
“The system has helped us to officially document the progress of our students and we have been delighted to have achieved some of the highest scores across Lancashire.”
The top 25% of GCSEPod users from January 2017 until the exam period in June gained on average 8.96 Attainment 8 points more than predicted with the lowest users falling by 2.11 points. Similarly, the top 25% of GCSEPod users achieved 1.11 points higher in their Progress 8 scores than the lowest users, during the same six month period.
Matthew added: “It can be no coincidence that some of our highest GCSEPod users have also achieved the highest Progress 8 scores.”
Asked about how the school encourages independent learning amongst this young generation who have grown up with Instagram, You Tube and Facebook and who now expect immediate access to content-of-choice across an array of technical devices, he said:
“GCSEPod is an excellent way for students to take ownership of their own independent revision and study. And it also gives us the security of knowing the statistics behind student engagement at any point; this means that we can have the confidence that students are learning outside of normal school hours.
“GCSEPod is obviously not the only reason for student progress, but it is difficult to argue with the data. When combined with quality teaching, a clear curriculum plan and timely intervention, GCSEPod is a powerful tool to improve attainment through study and revision and to promote out of hours learning. Without it, just like in a game of Jenga, the tower could weaken and collapse.”
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“A real ‘no brainer’ – GCSEPod is a high quality resource for students which can be evidenced to have an impact on both progress and attainment for all ability levels. It represents extremely good value for money.”
Nick Howe, Assistant Head,
North Huddersfield Trust School
“GCSEPod is an extremely high quality, cost effective and user friendly resource that has had clear and measurable impact in our Academy. The support given by the GCSEPod team is fantastic in all areas. Whether on their own device, or in the classroom, the resource is high quality and ever-developing! I would thoroughly recommend it!”
Dominic Howkins, Vice Principal,
Ormiston Sudbury Academy
“Test Valley School initially subscribed to GCSEPod after securing some external funding. However, the impact has been so significant that we have now subscribed in our own right.”
Andrew Page, Deputy Headteacher,
Test Valley School
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