VIEWS & OPINION Understanding common

student pitfalls inGCSE science Comment byMURRA


Success at GCSE science requires students to know and understand a tremendous amount of information. The difference between a strong pass and a fail can sometimes be determined by just a few questions.Where, then, are the battlegrounds in the quest for top marks? As education researchers at Tassomai, we are in the business of analysing our students’ performance in adaptive retrieval quizzes.We

accumulate a phenomenal amount of data - this year will see us pass a billion formative assessment answers on the platform.

While the algorithms use this data to steer each student to improve their weaker areas, we also analyse the bigger trends. Looking at those parts of the syllabus that are especially taxing in order to further trends of student themes are:

misunderstanding. At present, the most problematic develop our content, we frequently find overarching

• Circulatory & Digestive Systems • Osmosis & Diffusion

• Velocity vs Kinetic Energy • Fleming’s Left Hand Rule • REDOX reactions • Electrolysis

I’d advise any student to tackle these problem areas, but rather than simply read their notes or textbooks, try to build the knowledge into processes that combine several concepts.

Explaining the following topics in great detail to a parent who has been briefed to ask as many questions as possible would be an ideal way to practise.

How do we we get the reacta ts we tants we need to our cellsls fo respira for resp ration?

This would cover a huge area of biology and chemistry including food, digestion, enzymes, breathing, exchange membranes, osmosis, diffusion, surface area, respiration, energy from molecules, and loads of anatomy.

Why does a ca rave

Wh ca


Why, wh four times

car travelling at 50mph ta rave

car travelling at 25mph? Why, when it’s’s tra

es the disista How do we

ravelling at twi tance?

we produce one to

How does an electri other things.

take far, fa wice the sp speed, far, far longer to stop thop than a d, does tonne of aluminium fr es it cover more than ve from its ts ore?

Explaining this fully will cover resources, reactivity, electrolysis, optimal conditions, redox, half equations, quantitative chemistry - among

rical motor work rk? And a genera rator?

This covers electromagnets, induction, Fleming’s left-hand rule, circuit electricity, and can reach into renewable energy and resources.

Of course, each student and their ‘knowledge tree’ is different, and it may be that an individual will find other particular areas of difficulty. That’s why we emphasise the importance of practising with the aid of an adaptive system like Tassomai that personalises to the student, finds their specific gaps and helps to fill them. And success in the GCSE is not solely about having all the

knowledge at one’s fingertips. Exam technique - not least the ability to read the question carefully and express one’s knowledge clearly and concisely - can swing the final mark by a good few points. Students should, towards the end of the revision period, do practice papers with the mark scheme alongside, and study the rubric to learn how to finesse their knowledge to reach the top marks. But, as the saying goes, one cannot build a house on a lake. Students who have strongly embedded knowledge will have the firmest foundations upon which to build their exam technique. If they are able to tell these vital science stories above in depth, without doubt or hesitation, they will be well-placed to ace their exams this summer.

March 2020 re th

Time ismoney: howfinance technology support teachers and students Comment byMARC NOLA

rts LAN, Managing Director, Civica

Transferring the administrative burden away from teachers is an institutional priority. An Ofsted survey of more than 4,300 teachers last year revealed that they are spending just 43%of their working week teaching in the classroom. In last October’s Teacher Workload Survey, teachers cited

administration as the second most time- consuming activity. As well as this, we can

improve outcomes for students and teachers alike by reducing costs through automated, efficient finance services. Here, we look at how cloud-based financial management systems can improve teachers’ lives.

1. Saving time

Planning, preparation and assessment (PPA) time should be used to help teachers improve what they do best – knowledge, marking students’ work, and p materials. An effective financial manageme the purchase-to-payment cycle, saving teac

resources to support their lessons. These systems, which use ‘punchout’ technology, mean teachers can select and buy their supplies from different vendors’ websites without worrying about how to log and handle the purchase.

2. Reducing costs

There’s often a more efficient way of doing many day-to-day finance activities. For multi-academy trusts (MATs), there are huge cost and time savings to be made from automatically processing invoices. A typical school processes around 1,000 invoices a year, while aMAT could be producing four or five times that figure. According to government statistics, a paper-based public sector invoice costs an estimated £14 to process. Automated purchase invoice processing allows approved suppliers to use an invoicing format that inputs and reduces the cost of processing an invoice down to around £5. The resulting savings can then be diverted to supporting pupils.

3. Facilitating reporting

Compiling mandatory Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) reports can be a daunting task. It can take days to compile accounts and budget forecasts, and legacy software may no longer support the latest format for these submissions. Cloud software means changes can be added remotely to these reports, simplifying the process and removing the risk of mistakes. In a largeMAT, combining reports from finance and business managers in individual schools can be a mammoth task – cloud technology makes this much easier, freeing up valuable time and resources at academy level, and reducing the workload atMAT level.

When you dig deeper into the advantages of a modern, cloud- based finance system, there are even more areas where the savings outweigh the initial investment; from supporting effective budget planning to helping senior leaders make decisions based on clear data.

At the heart of each school is its pupils. Having a positive, meaningful impact on educational outcomes and society at large is one of the reasons people choose to work in a school environment – at all levels, not just in the classroom. Efficient financial management can have a powerful impact on these outcomes. By allowing senior leadership teams to actively optimise time, resources and budget, the savings can be applied to achieving this common goal for everyone. 21

hers time when ordering nt system can streamline reparing learning gaining subject

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