Does fast-tracking secondary school pupils in Mathematics benefit them? A study of attainment, pupils' opinions and teachers' views in a south Wales secondary school.
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The purpose of this research was to gather and critically analyse data based on the mathematical achievements of pupils in a south V/ales Comprehensive School. The aim was to evaluate whether having a fast-track class in which pupils sat the GCSE Higher Tier Mathematics exam one year earlier than their peers was successful and whether this practice should continue. Both the advantages and disadvantages were to be communicated clearly so that an informed decision could be made on whether the fast-track scheme benefitted pupils. This research was conducted as a case study in which data regarding pupils from the previous three fast-track classes were evaluated. Using a mixed methods approach, both quantitative and qualitative data were critically analysed. Pupils were invited to complete questionnaires and to take part in focus group meetings. Teaching staff from the Mathematics department were interviewed in order to gather their views on the practice of fast-tracking the more able pupils. The main findings were that in the majority of cases over the past three years the scheme was a success and that both teachers and pupils felt positive towards the practice. A minority of pupils failed to achieve the GCSE grade that they were predicted to achieve according to FFT and CAT data whereas the majority of pupils achieved or exceeded expectations. Most pupils shared positive opinions towards the fast-track scheme, a view shared by the teaching staff. The final conclusions made were that the fast-track scheme was a success in most cases and a practice which should be celebrated by the school. However, it was also found that the selection process for choosing pupils to be in the fast-track class needs to be reviewed and improved.
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