Engaging learners in GCSE

We commissioned NIACE to undertake research into people’s attitudes to maths and English GCSE.  The full report ‘Engaging Learners in GCSE maths and English ‘ was published in March 2015, and captured the voices of more than 70 young people.

The report found that people’s attitudes towards GCSE maths and English change once they realise how important the subjects and qualifications are to their future job and education prospects.

Learners are more likely to engage and have positive attitudes to maths and English when:

  • learning is fun, interactive and practical and where there is a strong understanding of the purpose and importance of holding these qualifications, in particular relating them to real life situations;
  • appropriate time and support is given to individuals to practise challenging topics, in and out of the classroom;
  • there is a clear assessment process with clarity on marking schemes, enabling learners to adequately prepare for exams and coursework assignments;
  • timely initial assessments are carried out to identify support needs, and any additional support learners require is put in place as soon as possible;
  • class sizes are kept small, enabling teachers to have sufficient time to support all learners. Larger classes are perceived by learners as a barrier to effective teaching and learning;
  • teachers have strong behaviour management skills to reduce the impact of peers distracting learners during lessons; and
  • a supportive environment is fostered in the classroom and learners are encouraged to ask for help from teachers and peers. Embarrassment can be a strong factor in learners not asking for support when they need it; and
  • practitioners listen to learners’ needs and tailor support and learning accordingly