It all adds up

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It all adds up

At Ysgol Gyfun Gŵyr sixth form, Swansea, students have used their real-life experience of buying a car to develop their number skills and achieve level 3 in the Welsh Baccalaureate.

Context and background

The Welsh Baccalaureate was established in the sixth form in Ysgol Gyfun Gŵyr in 2007. As part of the advanced qualification, it was agreed that sixth form students should aim for a level 3 qualification in application of number. Two teachers undertook research into the nature and quality of the tasks previously submitted by other centres to the WJEC. It was decided that it was important that the tasks undertaken were relevant to the experiences of 16 and 17-year-old students. They were not to be abstract tasks but instead based on research into an area that would be of interest to the vast majority of students.

The numeracy co-ordinator produced a task based on how to buy a new car. It was felt strongly that the topic should be relevant to young people who had just started driving and would also encourage them to consider the effect of vehicles on their environment when focusing on fuel consumption and CO2 emissions from a variety of cars. The task had to enable students to achieve all aspects of the level 3 application of number criteria when undertaking the research. An example of the research on ‘Buying a New Car’ was sent to the chief moderator of the WJEC’s application of number skill for approval. The recommendations received were implemented by forming further lines of enquiry for the task in order to ensure that all elements of the criteria could be met.

The nature of the strategy / activity

The students’ interest and motivation in the task was obvious from the outset, because it was relevant to their experience. Teachers provided two tutorials each week to give support and guidance to students while they did the research. The constant enthusiasm and encouragement of the teachers together with the commitment of the students were excellent features of the whole process. The fact that level 3 application of number is a key element of the advanced Welsh Baccalaureate helped to sustain very good motivation amongst the students who were keen to succeed, to the best of their ability. Every group has succeeded in completing the research within a term.

The effect on pupils’ outcomes

There was a definite increase in the use and quality of application of number in the sixth form.

Mathematics and science subjects benefitted from this as A level results were very good. Students showed the ability to reason and apply data in order to develop responses to open questions. They particularly developed an understanding that accuracy and precision is necessary when using statistics to support or disprove a standpoint.

Every pupil who was entered for the advanced Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification in Ysgol Gyfun Gŵyr attained level 3 application of number over the past three years.