CfEM blog: mastery at Christ the King Sixth Form College

Blog by Tumay Gunduz, Assistant Principal – Centre for Excellence in Maths at Christ the King Sixth Form College, for the Centres for Excellence in Maths (CfEM) programme.


Christ the King Sixth Form Colleges are situated across South East London. The College has three sites located in Lewisham, Brockley and Sidcup. We have approximately 550 students who sit the GCSE 9-1 Maths Qualification and 300 students entered in for Functional Skills Level 1. The number of students achieving a grade 4 or higher in GCSE Maths and the progress score of students studying Maths up to Level 2 has improved over the past three years and now stands above National Average. 

During the first year as a Centre for Excellence in Maths, our focus and determination was to build a strong network of institutes to share best practice and mold the direction of the project together. The network met and continues to meet regularly (once every half term) to focus on an adapted mastery model of teaching. By sharing our combined expertise, we were able to produce and share a scaled back scheme of work within the first year. 

During one of our discussions, we looked at the barriers that our learners have in the classroom setting and ways in which we tackle this. Using a recent study from BIT (Behavioural Insights Team), we now send students and parents/guardians scheduled and timely text messages to remind them of key dates, important events or words of encouragement. We have already seen that this has had a huge impact on student attendance for the November 2019 exams. 

Further discussions led us to look at ways in which we can support learners to overcome their anxiety and reluctance to do maths using peer mentoring. We initially trialed this at Christ the King with A Level maths students who, through an application process, became maths mentors. They would attend a GCSE class and offer one-to-one support during the lesson. We used the feedback from this pilot year to upscale this into a full Action Research project with our network partners. We have now trained 30 Academic Improvement Mentors (AIM), each mentoring three to four GCSE students across six sites.  

This naturally led up to our research question for this year:

How does the use of Academic Improvement Mentors impact the learning experience and mindset of resit GCSE Maths students?  

In addition to this, with the support of University of Greenwich, we have also been able to recruit undergraduate maths students as Maths Specialist Tutors at four sites in our network. They offer students small group interventions outside of the classroom – focusing on exam techniques and practice. 

To support our learners during the current climate, we have produced a padlet which contains useful resources for students to use for revision at home. If you would also like to share this with your students, please use this padlet link.

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