Supporting GCSE Maths retakers is a challenging task in any environment. Many students are disillusioned and lack confidence in Maths especially as they have been taught Maths for 5 years in secondary school and yet have not got the required ‘pass’ grade which allows them to enter or complete any further education courses. Unfortunately, many students come into college retake courses with a sense of failure and hopelessness when it comes to Maths.

So as the GCSE exam season looms, more and more 16-18+ students are becoming anxious about their GCSE Maths retakes. Is there anything different we may be able to offer in order for these students to see Maths differently?

NewVic Sixth Form College recently invited us over to deliver a CPD session to support their staff members who are teaching GCSE Maths retakes for students aged 16+. We were thrilled to be told that the event will take place in their newly built theatre which was an amazing scene for a Maths CPD course!

With the Headteacher, Assistant Headteacher and the Head of Quality and learning and teaching all attending the CPD session, it meant that we had a good opportunity to show unique approaches that many professionals at this level may not have thought about or seen.

The topic of this session was already outlined in the cool picture that we saw walking into the theatre….

Visualisation in GCSE Maths

Supporting GCSE Maths through visual approaches

We started off by looking at a Shape and Space question which has typically been taught all across England by giving the formula at the beginning of the lesson and asking students to plug in the values. As this formula is now taken out of the formulae sheet for the new GCSE Maths exams, it leaves us with a question mark hanging over our heads. If students struggled with the formula given, how are they going to cope now that the formula has been removed? Our visual approach allowed an alternative view of the introduction of the general formula.

We moved onto GCSE problem-solving questions involving percentages and simultaneous equations as well as looking at visual algebra as a way to effectively teach algebra.