Podcast

GCSE Maths Exam special: Graham Cumming and Karen Wilkinson

This episode of the Mr Barton Maths Podcast, is a GCSE Maths Special, featuring not one, but two special guests.

The first is my very owen head of department, Karen Wilkinson. Karen is an extremely experienced and hardworking teacher and head of department, and I have learned so much over the last 7 years working with her, in particular how she prepares our Year 11s for their GCSEs. So, hot on the heels of this summer’s GCSE exam series, I thought it would be interesting to get her take on how things went. With a focus on the Edexcel Higher papers, we discussed:

  • What Karen learned from last year’s papers, and how this informed this year’s preparation
  • What does the day of the exam look like from a head of department’s perspective?
  • What did Karen use in between the 3 papers with our students?
  • Then we take a deep dive into the papers themselves, with Karen picking out questions she liked and did not like – so if you want to play along at home, make sure you have a copy of Higher Papers 1, 2 and 3 from Edexcel’s summer 2018 GCSE exam series
  • What was Karen’s view of the exam series overall?
  • And what advice would she have for Edexcel going forward?

Karen is one of those people who doesn’t realise she is great, but she really, really is, and I think you are going to enjoy hearing from her.

And the it is time to bring on my second guest, which marks a return to the podcast for Edexcel’s Head of Maths, Graham Cumming. Graham was the second ever guest on this podcast, back in 2015, when I tried to get to the bottom of what this new GCSE specification was going to look like. Now that we have been through two summer sittings, I thought it would be great to invite Graham back on to answer your questions. And boy, did the questions come flying in!!!

So, I asked Graham the following, and much more besides:

  • What did he learn from last summer’s series?
  • Does Graham look at the other boards’ papers?
  • What was his favourite question from the 3 papers?
  • Why were this year’s exams so much easier than last year’s?
  • Why test the same skill multiple times when other topics didn’t come up at all?
  • Are the literacy demands of the foundation paper are right for the students taking the paper?
  • How should teachers decide upon tiers of entry?
  • And the big one – what has changed? We’ve been through 4 years of stress and confusion, and is anything really any different?

Whatever awarding body you are with, I really hope you will find this episode interesting.

So, get your Edexcel exam papers at the ready, and let’s dive in, as I talk to Karen Wilkinson, from Thornleigh Salesian College, and Graham Cumming from Edexcel. No takeaway from me this time – largely because I want to spend some time with my long-suffering and very, very lovely wife. Enjoy.

Thanks so much for listening, and I really hope you enjoy the show!
Craig Barton

I am a maths teacher, currently teaching at Thornleigh Salesian College, Bolton, UK. Here are links to some of my work:
mrbartonnmaths.com
Mr Barton Maths Blog
Twitter: @mrbartonmaths
Diagnostic Questions
Mr Barton Maths Podcast
My book: How I wish I’d taught maths

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