Getting the most from GCSEPod
Senior leaders from around the country share their best practice tips for getting the most from GCSEPod in the classroom and at home.
More than 1000 schools now subscribe to GCSEPod. While some schools have tried our GCSE online study tool for the first time this academic year, others have now been utilising it for several years.
In this article we share some of the best advice and guidance from leaders using GCSEPod as an independent study tool and within GCSE schemes of learning.
Jenny Bashford, Great Barr School
Jenny discusses how staff training, friendly competition and lunchtime clubs have been key to their implementation of GCSEPod.
“We have re-launched it in school through assemblies and parent workshops and have made it a key part of staff training. In my role I visit a lot of forms so I also demo GCSEPod and explain its benefits to further encourage use.
“We run a monthly competition to acknowledge the top using subject and student which has introduced an element of fun and definitely reminds our students and teachers alike to utilise the online study tool.
“One of our top users, who made huge levels of progress thanks to GCSEPod and shared his success in assembly providing tips and advice on how to get the best out of it.
“We run regular lunch time maths clubs where students are encouraged to use the podcasts to focus on a very specific topic they are then set assignments to complete independently with GCSEPod on their own mobiles and PCs. We can then easily track who is downloading the content and assess their answers to establish what they understand and where they need more support.”
Nick Rowlands, Priory Community School
Nick explains how he used series of clever strategies to achieve maximum uptake of GCSEPod school-wide. He shares the initiatives used at Priory Community School to implement GCSEPod and reach a critical mass.
“The first change we made was to take every year 10 and year 11 student in their tutor groups in to the ICT suite to complete their log in. Often this is the biggest hurdle; once you overcome this barrier – which is far from complicated – we find students take to GCSEPod quickly and easily.
“For me it’s about reaching a critical mass and encouraging that snowball effect; if enough students and teachers are using it and talking about it, it’s inevitable that others will follow.
“A huge difference this year is that far more teachers who hadn’t used it previously for their subjects are now either using it to set assignments or at the very least are reminding students that it is there to be used and will be a huge help to them.”
“We also introduced a couple of initiatives that have made a massive difference.
Our Passport to Prom scheme is something all Year 11 students work towards and this year we included GCSEPod for the first time. As well as asking students to attend revision sessions and complete other such activities, they were also challenged to watch 70 podcasts in order to get a stamp on their passport, which definitely had a huge impact on usage.
“With the support of the GCSEPod team we introduced a ‘Three is the Magic Number’ loyalty card. Students were asked to download three podcasts a day over a three week period which encouraged a number of students who were less regular users to increase the number of podcasts they viewed.”
Julie Rudge, Thomas Alleyne’s High School
At the start of the 2016 autumn term, Julie approached Tom Hollins – one of the previous year’s highest users of GCSEPod – to become responsible for supporting year 10 and 11s with the GCSE learning resource. She shares the benefits of a student-led approach.
“In most schools rolling out technology initiatives is the job of a member of the senior management team but I thought why not turn this on its head and as a student to take on the role.
“Whilst Tom’s first priority must be his own studies, he has wholeheartedly taken on the challenge and I can already see that his approach is encouraging more students and indeed teachers to make better use of the technology available to them. The role is certainly helping to shape his own leadership qualities, too.”
Richard Seale, St Leonard’s Academy
Richard explains how GCSEPod is helping to plug knowledge gaps and why the resource will help to plan ahead for the next academic year.
“This year GCSEPod has become embedded into GCSE schemes of learning, particularly across the Ebacc subjects. Teachers have used it increasingly, not only as a homework resource but have successfully used the GCSE online study tool within the classroom to either introduce students to a topic or as a way to facilitate flipped learning.
“The new functionality which allows teachers to set questions from a bank of thousands of pre-prepared questions, or write their own if they wish, then automatically mark them and provide student feedback, has most certainly changed the way in which GCSEPod is used within school.
“We can now tell who is reading and because we can assign questions to each podcast we can also see where any knowledge gaps might exist. This summer my colleagues and I are using GCSEPod’s new questions bank to create a series of lesson plans and homework tasks for the coming year. The ability to plan ahead so quickly and easily will create a significant amount of additional time for us to do what we do best – to teach!”
Ben Cheeseman, Rednock School
Ben talks about raising awareness of GCSEPod in schools and helping teachers familiarise themselves with content.
“We used the promotional material available from GCSEPod to put up posters around school before the launch as a form of teaser campaign. The branding is eye-catching, so students were keen to find out more.
“We chose to launch GCSEPod in our assemblies so that every student in the year was introduced to it at the same time. We used the videos available from GCSEPod as they can tell the story far better than we can.
“We coincided the launch with a Deep Learning Day – an off-timetable day where students are given the opportunity to engage in curriculum activity outside the confines of lessons. We worked with small groups of students to help them to register and log on and create their own personal revision plan and playlists.
“Student activity was supported by a staff training session to ensure that every member of staff, no matter how familiar with mobile technology was registered on GCSEPod.
“The school also invited youth leaders from our local youth group to talk about how GCSEPod could help them. He encouraged them to engage with GCSEPod and even offered them an incentive of free refreshments for anyone ‘podding’ at the youth club.
“We can never underestimate the power of parents and were keen to ensure that our parents understood how GCSEPod worked. We held a dedicated parent revision session where we introduced GCSEPod and explained how it worked. We have also included GCSEPod presentations at our parent evenings.”
James Maxwell, Markethill High School
James discusses flipped learning and embedding online study tools into GCSE schemes of learning.
“Going forward, GCSEPod will form a key part of our flipped learning strategy, allowing teachers to identify relevant podcasts that they would like students to watch in advance of the lesson so they can spend more time in class, deepening their knowledge and understanding. Over the next six months or so it will become fully embedded into our scheme of work, finding its place in the classroom.”
Marc Jordan, Montsaye Academy
Montsaye is another example of a school harnessing the power of competitions in driving uptake.
“Staff have engaged with the process by sending playlists to students to use in preparation for class assessments or trial examinations. Our Year 11’s have engaged particularly well with GCSEPod through competitions being run for overall streaming and downloads.
Robin Barclay, Chichester High School for Girls
Robin tackles the tricky issue of devices in the classroom and why there are real benefits to using visual aids in teaching GCSE students.
“Using technology effectively in schools requires good teaching and clear instruction. We have a clear mobile policy in schools which permits our students to use their phones in the classroom if appropriate for the task. We have Wi-Fi access across the school so they can research topics in an instant, can use their phones to create videos, and produce reports to share with their fellow classmates. The opportunities technology presents our students are huge if driven correctly.”
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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
Don’t just take our word for it. GCSEPod has gained huge recognition since our initial launch in 2010 and we continue to pick up industry awards along the way. We’re constantly listening to the schools that use GCSEPod and learning how we can best support teachers and students in times of change. Contact us to tell us your goals for the next year and discuss how we can be a part of your school improvement strategy.