Groups key to success

5th September 2003 at 01:00
David Carter (right) believes year group lessons are a key reason for the record-breaking GCSE results at Deer Park School in Cirencester this year.

They involve one teacher conducting a lesson for up to 80 students from four classes. And they allow the other three teachers time to work in smaller tutorials or target borderline individuals.

In the past two years the percentage of pupils achieving five grades A* to C at the mixed comprehensive has risen by 11 per centage points to 80 per cent.

Mr Carter, who joined the Government's re-modelling team this month after six years as head of the school, said: "We have the best results ever and I am confident that flexible learning played a part in that.

"We are looking to challenge some of the traditional methods of delivering the curriculum and experiencing the same input from one teacher has certainly worked."

This summer the school ran about 10 "lead lessons" in humanities, English and design technology for key stage 4 pupils. The model did not lend itself to some subjects, such as maths.

The lessons take place in the school hall or courtyard, with teachers using audio and visual aids and students taking notes on clipboards. The lectures are not timetabled, just used when appropriate and followed up with detailed individual classes.

The design department has been running occasional year group lessons for the past 10 years and other subjects have recently adopted the strategy on the basis of its success.

Jerry Richer, the design teacher, has found the revision classes for up to 120 pupils beneficial. Other teachers and assistants often help out during the session bringing the teacherpupil ratio up to one in six. This year 74 per cent of his GCSE cohort achieved grade C and above.

Mr Richer said: "The structure of the 'lead lesson' helps to enhance good behaviour."

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