Case Study: GCSEPod – A key brick in the Pendle Vale Jenga tower

Pendle Vale College, Lancashire

GCSE Learning and Revision

Overview

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.

The results

“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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“100% of our year 11 students achieved at least 5 GCSEs at grades A*-C.

82% achieved at least 5 GCSEs including Maths, English and/or Welsh at grades A*-C. An impressive 27% of grades were at A* or A compared to the national average of 19.4%.

We strongly believe that GCSEPod has played an important role in improving the outcomes for some of our pupils. Indeed, some of our top users exceeded their target grades in many areas and have now returned to the sixth form to continue their studies at A level.”

Diane Evans - Assistant Head Teacher,
Ysgol Uwchradd Aberteif

There is a very clear correlation between the subjects with the most pronounced raises in attainment (English Literature, Chemistry, Biology and Physics) and those that had the highest GCSEPod usage.

In addition, the student with the highest GCSEPod usage was also our highest achiever.

Because there has so clearly been an impact on the departments that utilised GCSEPod effectively, we will be looking to increase the use of GCSEPod across the school in coming years.”

Andrew Ost - Deputy Head,
Fort Pitt Grammar School

“We’ve used GCSEPod for a year and the results speak for themselves!

Not only did we see a rise in headline measures across the board with our highest user of GCSEPod gaining 7A* – but the students and their parents love it!

It’s fun, user friendly, and easy to use in a variety of ways – on a mobile device, in school, at the heart of our mentoring and intervention strategies, for flipping learning, and to deliver positive engagement that parents can see. Plus we’ve only just scratched the surface!”

Dominic Howkins - Vice Principal,
Ormiston Sudbury Academy

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