Booster Activities Case Study 1
Kettlethorpe High School, Wakefield LEA
Chris Horbury, Key Stage 3 science coordinator at Kettlethorpe High School in
Wakefield, describes how the Year 9 science booster programme generated a more
positive attitude to work amongst his pupils.
Kettlethorpe High School is a large 11–16 comprehensive with around 1600 pupils on
roll. The catchment is mixed, with a significant number of ethnic minority pupils in each
77 pupils from the year group were attaining around levels 4 to 5 and would benefit from
booster support in science. These pupils were chosen using data that included Key
Stage 2 science SATs results and predictors from CATs tests. Building confidence was
identified as a key priority for any booster activity.
Letters were sent home to inform parents of the format of the classes and explanations
were given to pupils in school, emphasising the purpose and benefit of the classes. 68
(36 boys and 32 girls) agreed to participate.
Lessons commenced with a one-hour after school session in each of the last two weeks
of the spring term. This was followed with two full days during the Easter break. The
initial lessons focused on those aspects of science identified as weaknesses from
national guidance and individual pupil data. Revision guides were purchased and
distributed and pupils were encouraged to spend time at home extending and
developing their understanding of the topics covered.
The first full day was spent on a structured teaching programme divided equally into
aspects of Sc2, 3 & 4 and a computer-related revision exercise. The second day was
spent at Jodrell Bank Science Centre to enhance aspects of Sc4. To ensure a different
learning climate, pupils were given free break-time snacks and lunch (pizza from a local
restaurant.) A pleasant, industrious atmosphere was evident throughout the two days
and attendance was excellent. Six staff took part. All pupils demonstrated increased
self-confidence, a more positive attitude to work, and a genuine desire to learn.
Of the 68 pupils, 18 achieved level 6, 39 achieved level 5, 10 achieved level 4 and one
was absent for the test.
Booster Activities Case Study 2
Highdown School, Reading LEA
Tasnim Curtis, head of science at Highdown School in Reading, describes the success
of last year’s booster programme for Year 9 science.
Highdown School is an 11–18 comprehensive of around 1000 pupils on the edge of
Reading. Some 15% of pupils are from ethnic minority communities, mainly black or
Asian. Although the local area is socially advantaged, the school draws many pupils
from areas where there are higher levels of social deprivation.
Pupils who were achieving at the margin of level 5 in science were identified and, via a
letter to their parents, invited to attend after-school work sessions.
Parents were asked to reply by filling in a return slip so that we could get an idea of
numbers and identify how many staff would be needed. Some parents even replied by
telephone to ensure that their child got a place.
Pupils attending all sessions were promised a £5.00 CD token. This proved a good
incentive and about 25 pupils attended.
Sessions ran for an hour twice per week. We bought core science textbooks and
allowed each pupil to take a set home. The sessions involved different activities and
styles of teaching, including team-teaching.
Resources included various texts, BBC Bitesize revision videos and past SATs
questions. Pupils were put into small groups to try questions and were then invited to
share their answers with the rest of the class. We gave plenty of opportunities for the
pupils to voice their difficulties, and tried to address any misconceptions.
The pupils were all keen to attend, quite serious in their attitudes towards the work, and
all attended most of the sessions. The week before the SATs we gave out old papers
for pupils to try at home, and several were returned with requests for them to be
marked. The pupils were very motivated and wanted to know what level they were
The sessions provided an opportunity to give focused support which both pupils and
teachers found worthwhile and satisfying. There were no discipline problems, as it was
made clear that the classes were voluntary. The whole ethos of the sessions was
relaxed yet busy. The percentage of pupils achieving level 5+ rose from 51% the
previous year to 62%.
Booster Activities Case Study 3
Failsworth High School, Oldham LEA
Failsworth High School is a mixed 11-16 comprehensive in Oldham. Over the past three
years the science department achieved a significant increase of 11% in the percentage
of pupils attaining level 5 and above in the Key Stage 3 tests. In 2001 the percentage
Organising a booster day
The selection of pupils
Thirty-six pupils were selected, and all were judged to be underachieving or disaffected
in some way. The criteria for selection was based around:
Teacher Assessment Grades
Performance in tests
Level indicators based on Key Stage 2 results and CAT Scores
The final list was drawn up in consultation with teaching staff, pupils and parents.
Pupils were invited to attend a Booster day at a local hotel. Parents were notified by
letter and the aims of the day were outlined as:
Improving motivation and interest in science (creating a ‘feel good factor’)
Consolidating the relationships between staff and pupils
Pupils were divided into three groups with each receiving two sessions of input in each
of three areas of science. Three members of staff were involved in the delivery of
materials. The activities were based around the Booster lesson materials and pupils
took home a folder including revision notes and activities from the day.
A parent meeting was organised, during which it was stated that there was an
expectation that all pupils would achieve level 5 in the tests.
Benefits to pupils and teachers
The Booster day raised motivation, and improved attitudes and behaviour were
apparent after selection and even before the actual Booster day took place. There was
even a ‘waiting list’ of pupils whose parents wanted them to be involved.
For most it was their first experience of working for a day in a hotel. The associated
food, prizes and rewards went a long way to making the pupils feel ‘special’. The pupils
began to believe that they could achieve more.
The potential benefits to the pupils through Key Stage 4 cannot be overlooked. The
school hopes to repeat the exercise in 2003 and is looking for ways of cutting costs,
including the possibility of sponsorship and involvement of local industry.
Booster Activities Case Study 4
Halewood Community Comprehensive School, Liverpool LEA
Halewood is a large 11-18 comprehensive in South Knowsley, with 1,500 pupils on roll.
It is fully comprehensive, with a few pupils excelling at Key Stage 3, whilst for others the
attainment of a level 3 represents a real achievement. Pupils within this range reflect
varied capabilities and challenges.
During Year 9, underachieving and borderline level 4/5 pupils were targeted for an
Easter Booster school. In the interests of inclusion, all pupils had access to this two-day
event. Parents were informed (and permission gained), with targeted pupils encouraged
as much as possible. Over 90 pupils attended, with sessions organised on a rotation
There was an emphasis on interactive learning and how learning occurs. This included
explaining links between pairs of science words, which then led on to concept mapping.
Pupils had levels explained to them in simple terms and were shown what it takes to
move from one level to the next, for example, ‘this is a level 4 answer because…’ ‘what
would this pupil have to do to progress to level 5?’ ICT was used to facilitate science
Encouragement also came from the abandoning of uniform, a relaxed environment and
a shameless use of chocolate bribes.
Pupils were well motivated, and staff (including two NQTs) felt that they had also
enjoyed the learning that had occurred. It helped generate in parents a sense that the
Key Stage 3 national tests are important, and created a core of focused pupils in
subsequent ‘normal’ lessons.
Booster Activities Case Study 5
Heathfield Community College, Sussex LEA
Heathfield Community College is a mixed rural comprehensive school based in East
Sussex. There are currently 1,350 on roll, and 240 pupils in Year 9. In the 2002 Key
Stage 3 science tests 84% of pupils achieved level 5 and above; 53% achieved level 6
and above; and 14% achieved level 7.
The English and science departments each secured a Key Stage 3 revision day for the
whole year group in April 2002, two weeks before the Key Stage 3 tests. The
mathematics department organised regular twilight revision sessions for invited target
The school’s main priority for the use of booster funds was to improve English results,
so the science and mathematics departments each received about £700 from the pot of
£3000. This funding, the time we were given, and the Booster materials formed the
foundation of the science department’s revision day.
We disassembled our normal teaching groups (four parallel 5-7 tiered sets and six 3-6
tiered sets), and using teacher recommendations, produced ten groups based on the
level we would hope them to achieve on a best performance.
One set of 30 level 7 pupils
3 sets of 30 level 6 pupils
6 sets of 20 level 5 pupils
The sets would spend the day together, with revision specifically prepared to help them
attain that level for their group. This all came from the Booster kit, and we choose the
most suitable activities for each tier. We had organised all staff in specialist teams to
prepare an hour’s lesson, based on three main activities. Resources were finely tuned
to the target level of each group. The cost of all materials came form the Booster funds.
We had a month to prepare. Parents were informed and sent the parents’ guide from
the Booster kit.
The revision day
The timetable of a typical pupil for the day was as follows (all lessons = 1 hour):
Lesson 1: Biology-intensive revision and exam question technique
Lesson 2: Chemistry-intensive revision and exam question technique
Lesson 3: Astrodome presentation: We had booked a large mobile astrodome
that holds 60 pupils at a go, and we booked four shows in order to rotate in the
whole year group. Price = £300
Lesson 4: Physics-intensive revision and exam question technique
Lesson 5: Mock Key Stage 3 test - Paper 1 from last year. All pupils in main hall.
How it went
It was a very intense day, but a complete success at every level. Staff were very tired by
the end of the day, but buzzing about the whole experience. Most of the activities went
so well we couldn’t fit them all in. Pupils were also very positive, and felt that we were
supporting them in their revision. The astrodome presentation was entertaining and a
very welcome break from the intensive lessons. The exam at the end of the day enabled
the pupils to put some of the revision into practice. They could immediately see a point
to the day.
Parents were kept on board, and many appreciated the guidance on exam technique
we sent from the booster pack.
Pupil confidence significantly raised, and we had our best Key Stage 3 test results ever:
Level 5+ rose from 80% in 2001 to 84%
Level 6+ rose from 40% in 2001 to 53%
Level 7+ rose from 7% in 2001 to 14%
Will we do it again?
Definitely in 2003! All the resources are now in place, but with one change, the exam
will now be on another day. We have booked in the Quantum Theatre Company for the
after lunch session. They performed their ‘Forces for Courses’ play to our Year 9 last
year before the revision day, and it was very well received. It helped raise the profile of
Science in another medium, showing it is not something limited to a laboratory, and can
be great fun. (Cost = £275 from the Booster funds)
Booster Activities Case Study 6
Walton School, Staffordshire LEA
Phil Lloyd, science consultant in Staffordshire LEA, describes how Walton School
implemented a Year 9 booster programme within the normal science curriculum time.
Walton School in Staffordshire LEA is a high achieving school with an impressive level
of achievement in science. In 2000, 82% of pupils achieved level 5 or above in science
at the end of Key Stage 3. The school’s aim was to incorporate booster classes within
the school timetable by creating additional Year 9 groups.
The initial target group were those pupils who were achieving around the level 4 to 5
borderline and were in danger of not attaining a level 5. At first pupils were cautious and
the teacher had to explain carefully and positively why they were being extracted into a
new group. This was handled successfully by the science staff and pupils were soon
competing for places in the booster groups.
The science department was fortunate to have the input of an effective, retired science
teacher. Planning time was allocated and the programme was carefully designed to
revisit key concepts and targeted areas of the science Key Stage 3 programme of
This teacher took responsibility for teaching booster sessions to selected Year 9 pupils
during the normal science curriculum time. This approach had two principle benefits:
1. The booster lessons could be accommodated within the usual timetable, rather
than by providing additional classes.
2. The creation of an additional group enabled teaching to be focused on the
specific needs of the pupils.
The results for the booster classes were very encouraging. 22 of the 24 selected pupils
achieved level 5, taking the school results to 92% level 5 or above.
The school has now created booster classes as a permanent timetable provision, giving
the science department flexibility to target specific groups of pupils at specific times
during the year.