“Purchasing MASSOLIT is one of the best decisions that we have ever made.”

About the Cherwell School

The Cherwell School is a large secondary school with academy status located in north Oxford.  In 2017/18, the school had just over 1,900 students on roll, of whom more than a quarter spoke English as an additional language, compared to a national average of just 17%.

Cherwell School and MASSOLIT

Cherwell first signed up for MASSOLIT in July 2016. Since then, they have fully embraced the resources on the site, racking up more than 50,000 views between September 2018 and June 2019.

We spoke to Vicki Hathaway, Head of English, to ask her how the school has used MASSOLIT, what they’ve got out of it, and what they would say to other schools who are thinking about giving MASSOLIT a go.

How has Cherwell School made use of MASSOLIT videos?

We have used the videos on MASSOLIT in a variety of ways at Cherwell School.

With our GCSE students, videos tend to be watched in class, where we use them to introduce new ideas and concepts as well as to revise materials that we’ve already covered. In this case, students will be given a specific set of questions that they need to answer, with teachers pausing the videos at certain points to discuss the video with them.

With our A-Level students, the videos tend to be used much more independently. Students are provided with questions to think about while they are watching the videos, but they are generally watching them by themselves.

We’ll often use videos at the end of the unit to summarise what we have covered. John McRae’s set of lectures on Hamlet is a personal favourite!

What have been the main benefits of using MASSOLIT?

We believe MASSOLIT has played a part in the excellent exam results we have seen in the last couple of years.  Feedback from students has been overwhelmingly positive.

The benefits for teachers are also significant. With changes in the curriculum over the last few years and teachers working with new content, MASSOLIT has been a vital resource for consolidating teachers’ subject knowledge.

It also makes the setting of homework much easier as we can often just ask students to watch a video and answer a few questions, rather than having to come up with a whole exercise from scratch.

What advice would you give to other schools about getting the most out of MASSOLIT?

Our advice to our schools would be to ensure that students are given specific questions to answer or things to focus on while they are watching the videos, rather than asking them simply to take notes. This means that they avoid copying the videos word for word into an exercise book, while it also means you know they have taken away the right content.

What sets MASSOLIT apart from other e-resources?

The quality of the lectures. Students are essentially getting university-level content but at a really accessible level for them.

The length of the videos is perfect too. Students can receive loads of brilliant information in manageable chunks of ten minutes or so. For them, this is much easier than reading an entire critical work or essay on the same subject.

The range of subjects on MASSOLIT is also extensive and there are often useful crossovers. For example, we’ve been using the lectures on the Russian Revolution to help with our teaching on Animal Farm.

What would you say to other schools that are thinking about giving MASSOLIT a go?

We think MASSOLIT is one of the best decisions that our department has ever made, both for students and for teachers. It has built confidence for staff and students alike, and has really allowed us to stretch students and consolidate learning. We cannot recommend it highly enough.

This interview with Vicki Hathaway was conducted on 7 June 2019.