This project seeks to answer the question of which intervention practices are most effective for raising the academic attainment of GCSE maths pupils in England. The findings will have the potential to alleviate teacher workload and to raise pupil attainment by refining the intervention schemes employed in schools. The results will therefore also be useful to school policy makers as they plan their investment in interventions as well as teacher educators and their students in noting the importance of addressing pupil needs immediately and reflecting on their practice to assess its efficacy.
The research was undertaken in a secondary school in the North West of England, following the progress of 185 pupils in year 11 from the beginning of the year to the end of the course through a series of mock exams in line with school practice. This was then refined to a group of 65 pupils who were all taught by the same teacher to reduce the impact of the teacher as a variable. The intervention schemes in question are: form time support sessions, one-to-one tutorials, after school sessions, holiday classes and a past paper programme. The project took a positivist approach, using effect size (a standardised measure of a pupil’s improvement compared to the average score and standard deviation) to identify the efficacy of each scheme.
Overall it was found that no single intervention scheme was successful on its own and it is not sustainable in terms of the investment of teacher resources to continue to provide all programmes to all pupils. A possible solution could be to employ a mastery focussed syllabus that ensures all pupils are confident and competent in basic skills from the very start of secondary education, thus removing the need for extensive, last minute intervention schemes.