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Our Approach

#250 Autumn GCSE re-sit course

Katie White, Programme Manager, Norwich Opportunity Area

What did we do?

The What A Difference A Day Makes (WADADM) project was adapted during the pandemic to support new Year 12 students to re-sit their Year 11 GCSE exams, given the disruption to learning they had faced during Year 11 in Spring and Summer 2020. This version of the programme included an online Maths and English tuition offer, as well as wrap around support from Mentors.

Summary of impact

Students received 16 hours of Maths/English small group online tutoring (some participated in both subjects) plus 8 hours of mentor led study skills/wellbeing sessions.

35 students signed up to the course, lower than we had originally planned. This is likely to be related to the late change to the GCSE grade awarding process in Summer 2020. 17 of the 35 students completed the course (those with attendance of at least 50%). 70% of those that completed the course passed their Maths or English resit exam with at least a Grade 4.

Steps taken

Following quickly on from the Summer Step Up Study Programme we were able to continue to work with existing mentors and tutors, which enabled us to provide a quality programme at speed.

Maths and English leads created a new programme that had to be designed specifically to meet the needs of the variety of exam boards schools/colleges were using for the re-sit exams. Confirming student sign ups, exam entry and exam boards in September was tight. A handful of students on low income without access to the required equipment were bought laptops.

Students were targeted in Norwich via secondary schools, who shared letters via GCSE exam results envelopes for those who achieved a Grade 2 or 3. Some students were also encouraged by their new post 16 provider to sign up to the course.

What would we do differently

Timescales to deliver the project were tight, with constantly changing circumstances. At the time of planning the course, schools were expecting Year 11 students to sit their GCSE exams in Summer term as usual. National changes to GCSE exams and the award of centre assessed grades meant the programme was adapted at the last minute.

A few of the students who dropped out of the course left because of confusion about exam entry processes with the students’ post 16 provider. This would be a priority to confirm if a similar project were to take place again.

The cohort’s needs and abilities varied greatly, some close to the grade 4 standard and some working at grade 2-3 standard. Those working at a grade 2-3 standard struggled to attain the required standard with a short-term programme. If time had allowed, further assessment in advance of the course would have helped to plan groups – tutors had to manage significantly different needs within the online sessions.

The role of mentors was valuable to discuss individual learning needs, remind students about essential sessions and tasks, as well as to provide coaching support where needed.


Short term costs for Maths and English tutors and Mentors, paid by the hour. Staff time to coordinate the project and liaise with schools and minimal costs for IT equipment where students didn’t have any access to kit at home to access learning.

See how others have implemented this Big Idea

The Power of Mentor and Peer Mentoring

Learn more about the impact of mentoring for the mentor and the impact for students on achievement and attainment from Kirsty Langley-Kara, Lead Mentor for WADADM maths programme and Emma van Deventer, Transitions Project Manager, Norwich Opportunity Area.

Summer Step Up Programme - supporting Year 11s transitioning to Post 16 education

Year 11 pupils faced a significant interruption to their learning as a result of the Covid-19 restrictions which closed schools to most pupils in March 2020, alongside the cancellation of national exams.


Norwich Opportunity Area Team