Breaking down barriers in GCSE Science

Tassomai

Tassomai is an online learning program which is changing the way students learn and study GCSE Science. Now being used in over 350 schools nationwide, Tassomai spreads learning throughout the year; reducing stress, increasing confidence and reducing the amount of time teachers spend on marking. Students learn by answering multiple choice quiz questions, written in such a way that they teach as well as test, and which correspond directly with the mark scheme. Find them on YouTube: www.youtube.com/c/tassomaiTV.

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Image courtesy of supplier. Image courtesy of supplier.

Richard Fulford is head of Biology at The Latymer School in Edmonton, North London. He introduced the online learning program Tassomai while working at Invicta Grammar in Maidstone, helping them to significantly improve GCSE Science grades through exciting new methods. Richard explains further:

After a PiXL meeting in December 2015, my deputy headteacher at Invicta told me about a new tool our Science department would be implementing called “Tassomai” - a quiz-based online learning program - and asked me to set up Year 11 before Christmas. I did some research, and quickly understood Tassomai to be a self-adapting program, personalised for each student; something we had struggled to achieve for years.

When I tested the system myself, I immediately noticed the high level of tailoring, with questions matched to the phraseology of the mark scheme. This, combined with the simple, intuitive display, was something I knew would be instantly popular with students. It was also clearly very flexible; it could be a plenary, supplement traditional teaching, or enable flipped learning.

Getting Tassomai up and running

I launched Tassomai for the entire cohort, and by the end of term all the students were using it. As something introduced mid-year, I knew Tassomai needed teacher buy-in, combined with a department-wide drive to ensure good student usage. As it turned out, this was easier than expected.

Tassomai helped with this however possible; answering every mundane or inane question I had, and clearly listening to my feedback - more often than not, the small problems I encountered were solved as they updated the site. Tassomai’s founder, Murray Morrison, also visited Invicta to demonstrate the software and to ensure we benefitted as much as possible, helping teachers to see how effective the program is.

Making teachers’ lives easier

We assigned Tassomai as half of the remaining homework that year, with the rest focussing on past papers and revision; Tassomai therefore immediately halved teacher marking, hugely improving teacher engagement. The program’s instantaneous and intuitive data visualisation showed where specific students and groups were struggling, allowing us to target intervention better than ever before, making revision more focussed and tailored, while reducing time spent revising AO1, which the program covered.

Achieving student engagement was easier than expected; when they saw how well it prepared them for exams, and realised they preferred working online than on practise papers, even this was less of a challenge than with regular schoolwork.

The impact on grades

What mattered most, however, were our results - if Tassomai didn’t improve our grades, then what was the point of using our Science budget on it? Thankfully, this was not the case: that year our triple Science cohort’s A-A* grades increased by 10%, and we saw an even bigger improvement in the number of students getting at least a B in the core and additional courses.

We bought Tassomai in December, and it instantly changed our teaching and improved our results, positively disrupting Science teaching at Invicta Grammar. These benefits convinced us to purchase Tassomai for the following year for Years 10 and 11; students starting earlier meant the learning was spread over a longer period of time, allowing for more spacing and interleaving. Over two years later, Invicta are still using Tassomai, because of how its unique approach builds confidence and improves results.

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