Schools Together series: Bolton School

Bolton’s Mathematics Programme has helped to raise attainment in local year six pupils

Bolton School encourages pupils to give something back through community action programmes locally, nationally and abroad. This is a central part of the School’s mission, and follows the ethos that ‘much will be required of those to whom much is given’. 

By setting up the Level 6 Mathematics Programme, the school was able to give something back to the local community, raising the attainment of talented young pupils from a variety of backgrounds by enlisting the help of specialist maths teachers, whilst simultaneously raising the profile of the school.

The Bolton School Level 6 Mathematics Programme was originally set up to allow talented and ambitious year six pupils from local state primary schools to gain access to specialist mathematics tuition in an attempt to raise attainment in their SATs examinations.

Obstacles and how they were overcome

It was clear early on that sending teachers from Bolton School to Farnworth to deliver weekly sessions was not the best use of the available time. Delivery of the sessions was limited due to the time taken to travel to and from the school. Furthermore, resources were often limited as it was either difficult transporting the items needed each week, or they were just not available. Pupils were expected to complete two level 6 papers in mathematics, one calculator and one non-calculator. However, as calculators are not usually recommended for primary level maths, the class sets available were very basic and not ideal for the task.

To overcome these problems, the following year’s sessions were held at Bolton School on Saturday mornings. This allowed for maximum use of available time, and made things easier with regards resources. In addition, the school was able to enlist the help of sixth form volunteers, each taking responsibility for a small group of primary students. This not only made the experience much more personal, but allowed students from Bolton School to learn valuable skills, beneficial for their UCAS applications.

Successes

In its first year, 12 out of the 23 pupils involved (52%) achieved a Level 6 in their Mathematics SATs examination. In addition, the vast majority did exceptionally well on the Level 3-5 paper, scoring in the high 90s. The fact that such a significant percentage of pupils were able to achieve high results in their SATs examinations is a success in itself. 

It is clear that schools, pupils and parents appreciate the extra support given by Bolton School in helping to raise attainment in a key area of the national curriculum. Mrs Lynn Williams, head teacher at St Peter’s school in Farnworth, stated: “Your support in helping some of the most deprived children in Bolton to achieve Level 6 is much appreciated am I am hoping we can meet soon to discuss how this support may be continued.”

Exact figures for the previous year are still being collated but early indication is positive with a high number of the pupils involved achieving Level 6. There has been a lot of positive feedback from both schools and parents about the project, with a high demand for places for this academic year.  

Fundraising and volunteering

It was clear early on that if the programme expanded to allow other clusters to take advantage of the opportunity, the sessions would need to take place at Bolton School. This came with its own problems namely transport to the school, and other commitments at weekends. However, sessions were well attended, with on average around 40 pupils at each session. The main issue of weekend sessions was staffing the event, rather than pupil attendance. This academic year, sessions will be held every other Monday from 3pm to 5pm. 

Schools discussed fundraising to raise enough money for a minibus. It was also felt that for pupils to make the most progress, they would benefit from working in small groups. Attempts have been made this year to have enough sixth form volunteers to keep group sizes to a maximum of 4-5 pupils.

Next steps

Level 6 SATs have been discontinued as a result of the overhaul of the National Curriculum and the SATs system. Therefore, the new Key Stage 2 SATs will no longer produce a level at the end, and instead levels will be replaced by scaled scores. Pupils will receive a scaled score to indicate whether or not a child is achieving the expected standard with a score of 100. Scores above 100 will represent higher than average achievement, while scores below 100 will indicate that they have a few knowledge gaps.

Despite the change in levels, the aim of the programme is to raise attainment in mathematics, and so this year will run in the same way as in previous years, supporting state schools pupils to reach their potential in their SATs examinations, rather than highlighting Level 6 as the ‘holy grail’ to aim for. 

This article originated from Schools Together and is part of a series of case studies on IE Today. Tell us about your partnership work to be featured here – send your stories to Stephanie.broad@wildfirecomms.co.uk 

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