Research School Network: KS3 Maths intervention which has increased students’ independent study KS3 Maths Intervention

KS3 Maths intervention which has increased students’ independent study

KS3 Maths Intervention

When we planned this intervention we made extensive use of three EEF Guidance Reports. The most important one was Putting Evidence to Work – a school’s guide to implementation”, but we also used elements of both Metacognition and Self-Regulated Learning” andImproving Mathematics in Key Stages Two and Three”.

In writing this blog we will use the key headings from the Putting Evidence to Work” report to show the complete process. Indeed the first point form the guidance report is to treat the implementation as a process and not an event; it is important to execute it in stages.


We looked at our GCSE data to see what was working, consider why it was working and then try to implement it earlier in KS3.

In 2017, Northgate’s maths progress 8 was +0.1
In 2018, our maths progress 8 was +0.6 (+0.2 for disadvantaged)
In 2019, our maths progress 8 was +0.5 (+0.3 for disadvantaged and the whole-school progress 8 was only +0.2)

It was clear that things improved between 2017 and 2018. The staffing was the same; the only difference we could see was that in February 2018 we launched our Northgate maths website. This enabled all our students to have easy access to the screencasts we had created for every question for our exam board. We also explicitly explained how and why these screencasts worked extensively using the Metacognition and Self-Regulated Learning” guidance report; click here for a short video on how using red/​black pens helps students use their time most efficiently and effectively.

We started from this point, realising that these screencasts enabled students to revise effectively and independently at home.

How could we replicate this at KS3, before the students were doing GCSE papers?


Given that we knew screencasts worked with GCSE students, we had to record screencasts suitable for any child in KS3, but also ensure that these screencasts could continue to GCSE. (All the sheets with the screencasts are available for free on the IOA-funded website, click on the Skills Check button). We trialed these new resources with a few students in different Year groups during registration periods. We gave them a sheet of 5 interleaved questions for them to do, but instead of the teacher intervening if they couldn’t do the question, the students watched the relevant screencast on an iPad. We didn’t want the student to think they needed a maths teacher to get better, they just needed to use the resources properly. The results were very encouraging so we expanded the project:


We chose a total of 50 students in Year 8 and 9 who were in danger of not making progress, and we recruited about 30 Sixth Formers (Year 11 students would work fine in schools without A’ level students) to deliver the interventions. One TA oversaw the whole process.

We explained to the KS3 students that the Sixth Formers were not allowed to help with the maths, but they could help show how to use the screencasts effectively, by using a black pen when they received no help, a red pen when they used the screencast and, most importantly, switching back to black as soon as they thought they might be able to do it themselves. You don’t learn maths by watching maths, you learn maths by doing maths.

The Sixth Form mentor would pick up a folder containing the booklet of questions, a red and black pen, a highlighter and an iPad. They then collected the KS3 student from their form room and go to the library, chatting on their way over to build up the relationship, and then start doing the questions once in the library.

After six weeks and just one ten-minute intervention a week, the students who had received the intervention had made 63% more progress than those who didn’t receive it (using a baseline test and a test after 6 weeks, both for the whole class). Those students then started doing the sheets at home and their Sixth Form mentor would then just check in with them to give them support.

The second cohort of 50 KS3 students made 44% more progress than those who didn’t receive the intervention and the third cohort made 58% more progress.

Crucially we met the KS3 students to tell them that their once-weekly, ten-minute library session had resulted in these extra gains so they knew that their maths ability” was not fixed and that effective use of appropriate resources could make a difference.


It is essential that any programme is sustainable over a long period of time. This intervention requires one TA for less than an hour a day on each day the intervention runs. It needs one iPad for each student but these don’t have to be all on the same day; ten iPads would do fifty interventions if you did them on every day of the week. The iPads are needed to access the screencasts using the QR codes on each sheet. The mentors are obviously free, but they also benefit personally from helping the KS3 students learn how to learn.

This is a link to a twenty-minute green-screen video which explains in a bit more detail; pausing the video at times can be helpful to read some of the information in the background. 


If you want any more detail about any aspect of these highly successful KS3 maths interventions, please contact Charlie Dawson, Evidence Lead in Education (Maths), with Ipswich Associate Research School by email: cjd@​northgate.​suffolk.​sch.​uk

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