Boosting Level 3 study skills


The development of skills, knowledge and determination is a key objective for Sir Thomas Wharton Community College (a recent addition to the Co-operative Academy group). In August 2013, the school showed a significant improvement in GCSE attainment; a tremendous success based on focus and hard work.

However, success at GCSE does not always translate immediately into comfort at Level 3, as any teacher working in Post-16 knows. Those who had achieved at Level 2 but were not “Level 3-ready” had different interests and needs; some needed to re-sit GCSE English and/or Maths, some chose to move forward with vocational options and others wanted to transfer to academic courses.

To address this challenge and achieve continued progress for students, staff at STWCC introduced a Level 3 Foundation Year pilot, which included one A Level in the student’s strongest subject, A Level General Studies and Level 3 CoPE with GCSE re-sits where applicable. Course tutor, Kay Henson, explained “CoPE was timetabled for 5 lessons per week and helped the students hone their personal skills, which, in turn, improved their performance in other curriculum areas. The teaching of research and presentation skills, collaborative planning, problem solving and independent learning skills through the challenges helped them to function more effectively and make progress across the board. The structure of CoPE provided a vehicle for skills development and confidence building, with the added bonus of a qualification at the end.”

As the year progressed, a small number of full-time A Level students were identified as at risk of not continuing to A2 and joined the CoPE group to boost their study skills. At the end of the Foundation Year, two learners transferred to Level 3 courses at the local college and four went on to full-time A Level courses. The four full-time A Level students who joined the CoPE group were also successful at AS and moved on to A2. Kay’s colleague, Kevin Grum, added “We’re offering the course again this year; students recognised the improvement for themselves and we hope to see the same kind of impact with the next group.”