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Why I love… Oxford Smart Activate for KS3 science

Oxford University Press
Two secondary school pupils smiling

Gaynor Clipsham, director of science at the Benjamin Britten Music Academy, discusses her experiences of Oxford Smart Activate’s impact on outcomes

How did you get involved?

When we found out about the Oxford Smart Curriculum Service and the research behind it, it ticked all our boxes, so we signed up as a Pioneer School to trial Oxford Smart Activate with our KS3 classes.

This is so much more than buying a resource off the shelf – experiencing and influencing the thinking involved has been really empowering. It’s exciting for us to have a part in shaping Oxford Smart Activate. We really feel like we’re part of the journey.

Has Oxford Smart Activate helped improve your lessons?

Yes, definitely. As an example, previously we asked students five questions at the start of every lesson to cover any misconceptions, identify any gaps and do a little bit of re-teaching before the lesson. With Oxford Smart Activate, there are three ‘reactivate’ questions at the start of every double-page spread, which we have been able to pick up and use.

This has not only saved time and reduced teacher workload, but the embedded reactivate section has shown us how it’s better to focus on the specific knowledge students need for the lesson, and make sure they know it before we teach it.

How has it supported your students?

It’s helped students check their understanding and regulate their own learning, so they’ve become more confident learners. It’s given students more opportunity to reflect on what they are doing, especially by using responsive feedback. We’re making feedback more of an active discussion, and being very responsive to the changes we need to make.

How has it supported your teachers?

It’s so supportive, particularly for those teaching out of subject. The teaching resources are fantastic, but also the background research – it’s all there. When you go into Kerboodle you can follow all the research, including videos.

The data is great, and enables teachers to identify progression. This has given them a real boost, just to see how well their students are doing. I’ve never known staff to come up and tell me, ‘My class all got over x%!’ in over 20 years of teaching.

What has been the outcome for your school?

A key difference we’re noticing is that the students are loving science. I’ve been at this school for two years and I’m seeing the excitement building in them. There are more practicals built in which, together with seeing how to learn and think for themselves, and knowing where they are with their knowledge, seems to have made their understanding so much better.

I’m really excited for when these students sit their GCSEs, because I believe we’ll see a massive difference.

Will it work for your school?

  • A fully-featured, evidence-led science curriculum for use at Key Stage 3
  • Brings together curriculum, resources, assessment, next steps, CPD, data and insights
  • Powered by Kerboodle, the online teaching, learning and assessment service for secondary schools
  • New Oxford Smart courses for KS3 English and Maths are currently in development

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