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What did the workshops set out to achieve?

HEON has provided subject revision and exam skills sessions for students in Years 10 and 11 that have proved to be effective at improving their knowledge and confidence to take GCSE exams.  Success in GCSEs is a key element of increasing opportunity to go onto Higher Education and an important aspect of HEON’s Progression Framework.  The workshops aimed to achieve two specific outcomes for students:

  1. An increased knowledge of the skills required for study at Higher Education
  2.  Increased confidence in applying the skills required for study at Higher Education

what did we deliver?

Four schools in our Partnership area took up the offer of revision workshops in core subjects: English, Maths and Science.  A total of 419 students took part in seven workshops. The workshops were run by skilled teaching and examiner practitioners in their field including, for example, former Chief and Senior Examiners.

Each session was developed in discussion with the school to tailor each to the needs of their students. The English and Maths sessions focused on exam skills with tips on how to prepare and answer questions in a GCSE exam setting.  They provided practical advice and expertise on how to approach exam questions, what examiners are looking for, how to ‘show your workings’ and what is required to obtain good marks. Maths also incorporated information on the benefits of Higher Education. The Science session was revision based, focusing on topics that the school felt there was a particular need to revisit.

What was the impact?

Students were asked whether they felt they understood how to prepare for the subject exams and also whether they were confident that they would be able to understand and answer exam questions in the future.  This was asked both before and after each session to understand the impact.  There were significant increases in the percentage of students agreeing that they had this understanding and confidence.  Almost twice as many felt they understood how to answer the subject exam questions and had the confidence to do so.  Although it is not clear how sustained this impact is, it is nonetheless a good indication that the workshops have a positive impact. 

“I like how inspirational the examiner was and for allowing me to believe I can truly do Maths and give me that extra confidence. I also realised Maths is so important, especially because I plan on studying Psychology A Level and had no idea it needed Maths”

Y10 Student, Maths Revision Workshop

The Maths sessions had a particularly positive impact.  English sessions were also effective but Science less so (although still positive).  There was a significant increase in understanding and confidence for both boys and girls, but the increase was greater for girls and they started from a lower base.  The impact was very similar for students from HEON target wards and non-target students.  There was a significant increase in understanding and confidence for both boys and girls, but the increase is greater for girls and they start from a lower base.

“I liked that it was challenging but I could understand the problem afterwards.  Overall the class was fun, but still taught me, and I now can understand problem solving a bit more”

Y10 Student, Maths Revision Workshop

Many students gave feedback on the workshops with the overwhelming majority of comments being positive. They found the sessions helpful, confidence boosting and motivating and were appreciative of the practical advice being given from experts. Some had also learnt about the importance of the subject for their preferred pathway.   

“At first I was unsure what to put into my answers, now I am more confident to walk into the exam”

Y11 Student, English Revision Workshop

These revision and exam skills workshops have been an important part of the HEON programme.  The cancellation of GCSEs this year has, of course, meant that this cohort’s Year 11 students have not been able to apply these skills in their formal examinations. Nonetheless, these are valuable transferable skills that can be applied to future study and exams and potentially increase students’ opportunities to progress to Higher Education.