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11th February 2016 - Pupils not 'secondary-ready'? Is Catch Up® the answer?

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Lots of my Year 7s are working at just below the level needed to fully participate in the Key Stage 3 curriculum. Is Catch Up® the answer?

Many pupils start Key Stage 3 with literacy and numeracy levels below those required to fully participate in the Key Stage 3 curriculum. In government-speak, these pupils are not ‘secondary-ready’. Typically, these pupils are reasonable decoders of text but may lack the inferential comprehension skills expected of readers in Key Stage 3 English classes. They may be quite confident at addition and subtraction but less secure in the skills of decimals and fractions. These pupils are often about 6 months behind age-related expectations. In terms of Catch Up® levels, they are likely to be functioning at level 12.

The Catch Up® interventions are primarily intended for pupils who are struggling with literacy and/or numeracy. These pupils may be as much as three years or more behind age-related expectations.

So, are the Catch Up® interventions suitable for pupils who may need a literacy or numeracy boost rather than needing a systematic revision of the core skills?

Yes … and No!

Generally, we don’t recommend that pupils start Catch Up® at level 11 or 12. But the answer does depend on whether the pupil is having difficulties with literacy or numeracy.

If the pupil is performing at Catch Up® Literacy level 12 (National Curriculum Level 3a in old-speak!) then the most likely gaps in their literacy/English skills are:

  • not confident at inferential comprehension

  • not secure at discussing texts and forming opinions

  • poor spelling

The best way to tackle these deficits is through small group guided reading sessions, to build confidence in developing the skills of inferential comprehension, and also to systematically address their gaps in spelling knowledge in small group remedial spelling sessions. Basically, their next steps of learning are being able to join in discussions and share opinions, and to improve their spelling skills, and so a 15-minute, twice-a-week, one-to-one intervention might not be the most appropriate support for them.
(That’s the ‘No’ part!)

However, if pupils are underperforming in maths, it would be very beneficial to identify exactly which aspects of maths they are finding difficult.

In Catch Up® Numeracy, the pupil is assessed across a wide range of numeracy skills. The outcome of the Catch Up® Numeracy assessments is the creation of an individualised learner profile that identifies strengths and areas for development for the pupil, across a number of numeracy components. These include many of the numeracy aspects within the age-appropriate expectations for pupils in Key Stage 3, e.g. number patterns, place value, multiplying and dividing whole numbers by 10 or 100, decimals and fractions, approximation.

Catch Up® Numeracy uses number ranges which go up to 1000, which is quite appropriate for pupils in Key Stage 3. As learners acquire competence and confidence with a concept, the number range is increased.

The individual 15-minute Catch Up® Numeracy sessions provide the opportunity to apply the numeracy learning across other aspects of maths, such as shape and space, and data collection.

So often with maths, it’s a matter of confidence. Some Year 7 pupils may feel daunted by the standard of maths expected of them, and that insecurity hampers learning. A term of one-to-one Catch Up® Numeracy sessions, which target the specific areas of numeracy they find difficult, might be just what they need to get them on track for future mathematical success.
(That’s the ‘Yes’ part!)

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