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Moving on from the C obsession

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There was snow on the ground when Fergal Roche and I ventured in January to visit David Young Community Academy (DYCA) in Leeds. We were given a warm welcome (and some delicious chocolate muffins) by Al Moon, the vice principal, and Katie Knighton, the director of destinations.

We were intrigued to hear about how they had abandoned the GCSE maths syllabus mid-course in favour of the IGCSE and had seen a 6% percentage increase in their results as a consequence. When we asked Katie about this her face lit up as she described the impact this had had on students and teachers alike.

She explained that previously the school had become so focused on students achieving a C that they’d actually been lowering their expectations.The passion and interest had been drained in the name of this ‘C obsession’ as students slogged through the same material lesson after lesson.

Introducing new and challenging content through the IGCSE syllabus rekindled the enthusiasm of both staff and students. As students were enthused by tackling new topics, teachers could focus on the learning rather than the behaviour. Katie explained that students wouldn’t be able to access all of the topics in the paper, but the parts they could answer gave them confidence and a worthwhile qualification.

Al explained that introducing the IGCSE mid-course meant that there was a lot of new content to deliver in a short space of time. It was unfamiliar content for the teachers too. They overcame this by delivering lecture-style master classes on key topics to groups of forty or fifty students. These were led by members of the SLT who modelled the teaching for the other teachers.

A big  thank you to David Young Community Academy for sharing with us the exciting things you’ve been doing. We look forward to hearing how the next cohort of students is getting on.

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