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Improving Maths and English at Key Stage 3

A range of projects implemented across Ipswich secondary schools with a focus on improving English and Maths outcomes for key stage 3 pupils.


Head Teachers / School Leaders, Local Authorities, Pastoral and Support Staff, School Teachers, Trusts

Aimed at



Literacy, Numeracy, Raising Attainment


Place Based

Why was the project needed?

Attainment in Maths and English at GCSE in Ipswich was below the national average, and one of the reasons the town was identified as an Opportunity Area, as failing to achieve a grade 4 or 5 was holding young people back from progressing post 16.

School leaders told us that a key issue in solving this problem was ensuring that students make sufficient progress in these subjects at KS3 .

What happened and what was the impact?

Secondary schools in Ipswich investigated evidence based approaches that would lead to sustainable improved outcomes in Maths and English at Key Stage 3, and created action plans for projects to improve these subject areas in their own schools.

Funding was also allocated to schools to develop collaborative approaches across schools and trusts, working together to share the expertise and resources of their respective Maths and English departments.

  • Schools met as a group to discuss the challenges and successes in their practice.
  • Each school developed evidence based approaches in English and/or maths.
  • Separately they also developed collaborative approaches to be used in each secondary school.
  • Projects were implemented, embedded and evaluated.

Take a look at our case studies to see the different approaches that Ipswich schools took.

What did and didn't work?

No one size fits all when it comes to improving Maths and English in different contexts – but strong planning, implementation and an understanding of the evidence around improving Maths and English outcomes are key.


Ingredients For Success

  • Collaboration takes time to build when there isn’t an embedded system in place to work together.
  • Support from senior leaders is essential.
  • New projects to drive improvement should be embedded with a school’s improvement plan.

Area Most Impacted

Improving Attainment

See how others have implemented this Big Idea

KS3 Vocabulary - Westbourne Academy

Maths Screencasts - Northgate High

If you don't know how to revise maths, you can't revise maths! We created a series of screencasts, like the one above, within the classroom explaining how to approach the full range of maths questions encountered in KS3. The screencasts were tailored to the appropriate level for the learners.

Stop and Read - Westbourne Academy

We invested in Accelerated Reader licences for al KS3 students. Staff were trained in the Drop Everything And Read (DEAR) approach and encouraged to share best practice and support each other as necessary.

Next steps to do something similar yourself

These are a list of Big Idea resources that you can use to implement in your setting:

Access the resources you need to run this project in your school here.

Read more about this project in the Ipswich Star.

Hear a one minute overview of the project on Twitter here.

Read the EEF Guidance Report on Metacognition and Self-Regulated Learning here

Read the EEF Guidance Report on Improving Literacy in Secondary Schools here

Read the EEF Guidance Report on Improving Maths in KS2 and 3 here

Read the EEF Guidance Report on Improving Secondary Science here

Read the EEF Guidance Report on Using Digital Technology to Improve Learning here

Have your say

If you've got any thoughts and ideas of how this approach could be improved or an positive impact it's had for you, add them below

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