• Podcast

Teaching the hardest topics in GCSE maths

Two teachers from South Yorkshire, who lead Work Groups, tell us why teachers should get involved with ‘Challenging Topics at GCSE’

  • Published: 18/03/2019

Which are the hardest topics in GCSE maths? You will know some by reputation. Some might surprise you. What can you do to make these topics more accessible to students? In particular, how can you unlock a depth of understanding that allows students to use their knowledge flexibly and in unfamiliar situations?

The Maths Hubs Network’s national project, ‘Challenging Topics at GCSE’, addresses these issues, through local collaborative teacher Work Groups.

In this podcast, two teachers from South Yorkshire, who lead Work Groups, tell us why teachers should get involved. They tell us about the benefits to teachers and their wider departments. The podcast begins with an interview with Kathryn Greenhalgh, Maths Hub Lead for Yorkshire and the Humber, who gives a national picture of the project.

Show notes

Taking part in the discussion are:

  • Kathryn Greenhalgh, Maths Hub Lead for Yorkshire and the Humber Maths Hub
  • Lisa Wilson, Penistone Grammar School, Barnsley, and Work Group Lead for South Yorkshire Maths Hub
  • Rosie Kavanagh, Oakwood High School, Rotherham, and Work Group Lead for South Yorkshire Maths Hub
  • Gwen Tresidder, Communications Manager, NCETM

The slide and link below help to illustrate the conversations at the time codes given:

Time code: 21:47

Double number line slide

Time code: 24:32

Link to travel graphs on Geogebra

Episode chapters

  • 00:56 – Intro Kathryn Greenhalgh, Maths Hub Lead
  • 01:12 – Origin of Challenging Topics Work Groups
  • 01:47 – GCSE topics students find hardest
  • 03:21 – Why focus on a single topic?
  • 04:46 – What to expect in first session
  • 07:46 – Session breakdown
  • 10:04 – CPD for whole departments
  • 11:52 – Intro Lisa and Rosie, Work Group Leads
  • 15:09 – What is their training? 
  • 16:01 – How teachers can get involved
  • 16:24 – Why different to other CPD?
  • 19:18 – What is the time commitment?
  • 19:53 – Gap tasks
  • 20:50 – Quick wins for Y11s
  • 21:53 – Double number lines (see slide above)
  • 23:40 – Bar modelling
  • 24:38 – Real-life graphs (see weblink above)
  • 26:33 – Working with departments
  • 31:13 – Analysing GCSE questions
  • 32:10 – Influence in KS3
  • 32:56 – Their own personal careers
  • 38:56 – What about teachers that just don't have time?
  • 41:56 – Message for SLT

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