Ark St Alban’s Academy this week hosted teachers from across the country in a free conference on helping students manage the change to linear GCSE exams.
The conference was the latest in Ark’s series of free professional development sessions open to all teachers, regardless of whether or not they work in an Ark school. The day gave practical advice and schemes of work for the new GCSE specification, in which a student’s grade relies entirely upon the final exams, rather than coursework or modular exams.
The event was held at Ark St Alban’s, which was recently announced as a finalist for the TES Secondary School of the Year and STEM Team of the Year. The school also has the highest rate of students achieving the English Baccalaureate in Birmingham, despite being in an area of high social deprivation.
During the event, teachers heard from Mark Critchard, Ark’s Network Lead for Maths, who spoke from the perspective of teaching a subject which has traditionally avoided coursework, and Edward Watson of InnerDrive, a mental skills training organisation, on understanding the teenage brain – and getting the most out of it.
During the latter session, the delegates took part in practical exercises which demonstrate flaws in the way the human brain works – emphasising the need for teachers and students alike to appreciate the mind’s limitations when preparing for exams.
English teacher Caroline Entwhistle said: “The event was fantastic; if you want to spend a single day learning what you need to be doing differently to manage recent changes in the curriculum, Ark’s CPD days are the best way to do it.”
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