Students who fail their GCSE maths are required to retake the exam post GCSEs. Whilst this is great for a second chance, students who fail the first time are actually more likely to fail when they resit. These individuals wouldn’t be most Teachers first choice for peer mentors, but this is exactly what Rebecca Turvill has done with her peer mentoring project. By selecting students who are resitting their GCSE maths in sixth form to tutor those in Year 7 who are also in danger of failing, Rebecca has created a unique opportunity that not only helps the younger students’ improve their maths but also serves to boost the confidence of the older peer mentors.
Rebecca won a grant from Let Teachers SHINE in 2016 to help launch her project. The sessions run fortnightly, with the sixth form students working in pairs with small groups of the Year 7 students. Rebecca has made packs, which include things like multiplication grids, 100 squares, cards, counters, and dice, and the peer mentors use these with their groups of Year 7 students to do maths games.
Both the Year 7 pupils and the peer mentors have told Rebecca that they don’t feel like they’re actually doing maths, but just enjoying playing games.
One of the sixth form students said; “I don’t really like maths, but the project made it fun and competitive at times, so more enjoyable. It helped me develop skills of helping others and I could write that on my personal statement. It has made me happy because I was able to help others. They enjoyed working with me and I think I gained confidence.”
As shown by this, and other reports from the students, the project not only helps improve the peer mentors’ maths skills, but also helps their confidence. A perk for the peer mentors is also that they’re gaining valuable mentoring experience, with one mentor reporting that the project will be really helpful experience as they want to be a Teacher.
By the end of the project, many of the students from both age groups had gained enough confidence and interest in maths that they were going to their own Teachers and asking about exams, taking a more active role in their education. The response from Teachers has also been very positive, with many of them noticing the change in their pupils and trying out the games in their own classroom.