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University's maths tutors help GCSE children raise results


Students taking maths exam

A University of Bradford maths tutoring programme for high school pupils about to take their GCSEs has been hailed a success after it improved grade points for those taking part.

Maths Booster Programme was launched in December 2020 after education experts identified a link between low maths results and Year 11 pupils from socioeconomically deprived backgrounds.

The programme, now into its fourth year, uses university students to deliver additional tuition to schoolchildren in after-school classes, where each child is offered a meal and the chance to win shopping vouchers.

Professor Alastair Goldman

Professor Alastair Goldman, Director of Local Activity Partnerships, pictured above, said: "We deliver our Maths GCSE programme to approximately 400 pupils a year from 12 to 15 schools, and to young people in community settings. We are now into our fourth year. We have good quantitative results, which show a marked increase in maths results by those who attended the Maths Booster Programme, and we have excellent anecdotal evidence, from teachers, pupils and tutors."

Grade increases

In 2022/23, the University engaged in nearly 2,000 pupil hours of tutoring and kept a register of attendance and compared the GCSE outcomes with the hours of attendance.  It found that the average GCSE grade generally increased with hours of attendance at tutorials.

For example, those attending for more than 12 hours averaged a GCSE grade of 5.4; those attending more than 10 hours averaged a GCSE grade of 4.8.  Whereas those who attended fewer than 10 hours of tutoring averaged a grade of 3.8. 

It  also compared attendance and grade with predicted grades based on Stage 2 test results and found a positive correlation between attendance and distance from Key stage 2 predictions. For example, those attending for more than 12 hours averaged a GCSE result 2.1 grades above predictions and those attending more than 10 hours averaged an improvement of 0.5 grade. Those who attended fewer than 10 hours of tutoring averaged a grade 0.2 below what was predicted.

Skills and confidence

University of Bradford Vice-Chancellor Professor Shirley Congdon said: “This project works on a number of levels, not least by improving their maths skills but also in terms of boosting their confidence, while giving our own students valuable training and work experience.”

Maths calculator on a desk of papers

Tom Green, 28, who graduated with a computer science degree in 2020, was one of the original tutors. He said: “I’ve always had a passion for maths. If you’re a pupil, it definitely makes a difference being taught by someone who is passionate. The other thing is to show pupils how maths can have practical applications, to show them this is something that’s worth learning.” 

The programme also benefits tutors, who are paid for their work, with 15 so far pursing a career in teaching.