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How can I improve the outcomes my students achieve next year?

This is the time of the year when there is time to think ahead. In order to think about how to do better next year a good idea might be to focus on what you are trying to achieve. If the objective is to improve performance against target grade it is worth reflecting on just how this might be achieved.
 
To do this it might help to consider what students might need to be able to do when they are faced with examinations next year. In Economics the skills they need are likely to come from a list like this:
  • Able to read questions carefully without significant misinterpretations.
  • Have a broad base of theoretical and real economy knowledge and understanding. Includes immediate recall of key economic metrics.
  • Able to plan, structure and author extended written question responses that are easy to read and mark.
  • Able to rapidly read, understand and analyse unfamiliar extract data to quickly extract sufficient relevant material to support answers.
  • To select and structure material (extract material, theoretical knowledge and additional real economy examples) so that a discussion develops different perspectives that are thoroughly explained, analysed and evaluated. The aim is to develop a discussion during the first 2/3 of the answer that sets up a supported final judgement that weighs up the alternatives discussed, identifies a preferred option and suggests any refinements that might improve the desired outcome.
  • A detailed understanding of exam board marking approaches and how this can be applied to maximise marks.
  • Manage and apply time so that answers aren’t rushed or compromised if time runs out.
  • Understand that a supported final judgement is an absolute requirement in longer questions and appreciate that this should not be sacrificed to add additional technical content.
  • Understand that writing down everything that is known or comes to mind on a subject may not produce optimal answers. If there is a broad base of knowledge the key skill is to only use material/knowledge that is directly relevant to the question.
  • Don’t let political bias compromise answers. Always cover alternative views/opinions and provide balanced judgements. 
Although we clearly have an interest in how a teacher might achieve this, the solution must be to reduce the content time and increase skills time in class by relying more heavily on independent digital activity:
  1. Content acquired independently and understanding verified and strengthened via independent digital activity that releases teaching time eaten up by content preparation and delivery. 
  2. A lot more time in class working with and interpreting real material and developing essay skills under time pressure.
  3. Use additional teaching time in and out of class to mark/provide feedback on greater volumes of extended written material and personalised interventions. More teaching and less talking for the teacher and more doing and less listening for students.
  4. Use as much current real-world economy data as possible. Link activities to the here and now and focus on things that inspire students. Financial markets for some, government policy, environmental aspects and equality for others.

Perhaps the most important aspect of this is that an SLT is likely to invest in initiatives backed by a commitment to a clear change in teaching approach and a new SOW, than simply allocating valuable fund money to buy another study option for students. 

A key part of this is to demonstrate how the SOW will change. Please contact us if you would like to discuss this as we provide support to schools who aim to do this.

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Friday, 22 March 2019
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