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Our Approach

#389 Go Get EM – Suffolk New College

Chris Gilbert

What did we do?

A tutor from our English team and a tutor from our maths team met with some of our vocational tutors to explore specific topics and exam content from the level 1 functional skills English and maths qualifications. The aim was to develop the numeracy and literacy embedding skills of the tutors (as well as their own numeracy an literacy skills) for them to deliver specific, exam related content, to their learners during vocational lessons. The overarching aim of the project was to improve outcomes for learners studying level 1 functional skills maths and/or English.

We identified a target group of learners who are studying the L1 FS qualifications and see the vocational staff involved on a regular basis. The learners in the groups were unaware that this project was running but we set the target group up so that we could monitor the performance of these learners against the rest of our functional skills cohort.

Maths – “I found your Maths embedding project really useful on several levels. Firstly it gave the students a perfect starter activity for some of my level 1 lessons. Also it gave me a way to embed maths into each lesson that was directly relevant to what topics they were covering in their maths at that time.”

English – “At the start I was a bit lost with the FS English course, but my confidence has really grown after the weekly meetings and the learners seem to have all benefited from the slight changes to my teaching and the language we use.”

Summary of impact

The final results for the academic year will not be published until the end of July. Most of the learners in the maths project are still to sit their final exam this year but there are some measures of the impact that we have taken in year.


  • Started -2pp pass rate compared to the college average in initial assessment at Level 1
  • Currently +32pp compare to the college average in pass rate at Level 1
  • Attendance to English, for the target group, is 3.5pp greater than the college average.


  • Projected to finish with a pass rate that is +29pp compared to the overall college pass rate at Level 1 (still awaiting results, students within 5 marks of passing on first sitting have been projected as a pass).
  • Average score for Level 1 exam this year for entire Level 1 cohort is 24.7 marks, compared to an average score of 27.3 for the focus group. Those who have not yet passed have achieved a higher mark than the cohorts average by 2.6 marks.
  • Attendance to Maths, for the focus group, is 1.8pp greater than the college average.

Steps taken

The intention, at the start of the project, was for the English and maths tutors to meet with the vocational tutors for 30 mins each week to support the embedding of numeracy and literacy and share ideas and resources. The vocational tutors then took the information from the meetings , and any resources, and worked through these with all of the students in their vocational classes.

The English and maths tutors met, termly, with the Implementation Lead in order to review the progress of the project throughout the year.

The vocational staff members reviewed the information being shared by the English and maths tutors and created/adapted resources which they then used in their vocational lessons in order to embed numeracy and literacy development in their lessons.

What would we do differently

We are extremely keen to run this project again next year. We would target a specific vocational area (the one with lowest attendance and outcomes) and ask the English and maths tutors to work directly with this team. We would have to consider how we ensured staff buy in. For this project, we had targeted vocational staff that we thought may be keen to engage and, unfortunately, we still had a staff member that dropped out during the project. If we were to run the project again we would need to perhaps set some parameters, with the line manager of tutors involved, to ensure that buy in was strong.

We would phase out the level of support offered to the vocational staff as the year progressed too. We think that this would further increase the impetus of vocational staff taking accountability for the literacy and numeracy embedding within sessions.

We would make sure that vocational staff have the opportunity to share best practice with their teams during departmental team meetings.


The funding for this project was used to give the English and maths staff members involved in the delivery some remission from their teaching workload in order to carry out the preparation and meetings involved with this project. The full £2000 funding from this project was allocated to cover the staffing remission.

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Suffolk New College

Chris Gilbert

Director of English, maths and ESOL