Challenging Topics at GCSE Work Group

This Work Group focuses on teachers working together in workshops to unpick a challenging topic, developing insight into the associated difficulties and misconceptions to support teaching in the short term but also consider the implications for longer term curriculum design.


  • Teachers will hone their ability to analyse what it is about certain topics that makes them more challenging, and be able to apply these analytical skills more widely in the curriculum.
  • They will deepen their understanding and classroom practice in relation to teaching and learning styles most appropriate to effective learning in the particular topic area.
  • Departments will have a model for improving the teaching and learning and curriculum provision for any area of the curriculum their students find challenging.
  • Students in the participant teachers’ classes will become more confident in their own skills and abilities, developing a deeper and more connected understanding of prior content, thus enabling them to better tackle the challenging topics.

who is this for?

Secondary school maths teachers and heads of department. Participants in the 2018/19 Work Group are welcome to participate again.


Each Work Group will explore a single GCSE topic in depth. Participation will require attendance at four workshops spread across the year and include gap tasks. Any work produced will be shared across the hubs, giving access to a range of challenging topics.

The workshops will take place on:

  • Thursday 14 November 2019
  • Thursday 12 December 2019
  • Thursday 6 February 2020
  • Thursday 26 March 2020


St Peter’s Junior School, Ruddington, Nottingham

expectations of participants and their schools

  • Attend the Work Group sessions and carry out a series of follow-up tasks within their own classrooms related to teaching the challenging topic being explored.
  • Work with other members of their maths department, as appropriate, to develop the teaching of the challenging topic.
  • Contribute to Work Group evaluation processes.


The Work Group is offered free to all state-funded secondary schools in England.