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help the younger children; giving them clues or guiding them rather than giving them the answers. Today they all want to give up their break and lunch times to help the younger children; it’s worked in so many ways. All children, but especially those who are not


excited about maths, need resources that are engaging. Our younger pupils use concrete materials in every lesson and progress to drawing them; this helps them to visualise the mathematical concepts. Resources like LEGO, pegboards and kaleidoscopes are ideal for helping children to see mathematical patterns. They also love computer programmes with lively graphics that not only appear like games but also help them to visualise the problems being set. We have continued to use Matific as it is ideal for this style of teaching. They are guided step by step to almost teach themselves the best way to approach a problem. What has proved to be very effective is the fact that they can repeat activities to see their fluency build, and they particularly enjoy learning through problem solving rather than just number recall.


to help their child. We discuss ideas about how to complete mathematical tasks integrated into everyday life, rather than something to dread.


Once your students have built up a solid foundation of understanding of the key mathematical skills, how do you think of enough cross-curricula, real life problems for the children to solve? One of the first ideas came from our participation in the Artsmark Creative Quality Standard, organised by the Arts Council England. This required us to set up an arts council of students who worked with a lead teacher to come up with ideas about how to excite the other students about the arts in schools. Because this was so successful, we applied the same approach to maths. So today, we have a Maths Council led by students from Year 6, with every other year represented by two children, and of course a teacher. They meet alternate weeks during assembly time to come up with cross curricula problem solving ideas. Children bring their ideas and vote for the ones that are most practical to introduce. They take into account materials needed and cost. They sometimes plan one maths activity to


finance another; for example, they ran a Maths Games afternoon as a mini enterprise. Children paid to play games which were designed and run by the mathematicians, using materials and resources which we had in school. They then used the money raised to pay for a bake off competition which was the highlight of the year! Shopping for the Bake Off used all their skills; the Maths Council took care to compare prices and weights and to buy the best value packs of everything used. Each child had to weigh out the ingredients


and write a recipe for their cake. The recipes were then swapped, and each child had to follow the quoted measures provided by another student. Another thing we have introduced is also based


on the arts. The Maths Council decided to make maths in art the focus of every public area display board in the school. Each year group was asked to take a different area of shape and to make a display, showing facts as well as practical,


June 2018


concrete examples. The children on the council then reviewed each display, giving points for artistic presentation, clear facts, and how much they learnt from each one! Other ways in which we’ve embedded maths


across the curriculum include maths with orienteering. We invited a world champion to the school to discuss with the children the different ways maths in used in orienteering: such as measuring and comparing speeds. We then ran a maths in orienteering event which involved the children finding their way around a route with new maths-based clues at each station. This year, the UK-wide Matific UK Maths


Games has been a major motivator for everyone in the school, and not just because we won so many awards! Matific is a primary maths resource based on a problem-solving approach to maths mastery, with carefully structured steps to greater complexity. All schools across the UK had free access to Matific for two weeks; the challenge involved carrying out as many Matific problem solving activities as possible in the two-week period. The children loved it and continue to solve the next stages of problems whenever they can. I don’t think we’d have had quite the level of excitement in maths without it. We were told that during the Matific Games,


almost 5 million questions were answered by thousands of students from hundreds of schools across the UK; it is aimed at improving students' confidence and maths skills in the classroom, and it certainly worked. We were the national winning school and received other prizes for first, second and third places for year group classes and students.


How do you support your struggling maths learners? To address these children’s perception of maths, we set up the ‘maths motivators’ group of Year 5 children with our deputy head as the support teacher. The maths motivators go into younger classes to help them with their problem solving activities; for once, they are the ones with more knowledge! This makes them feel empowered to be supporting other children, which in turn makes maths successful for everyone. We train them to


www.education-today.co.uk 17


Finally, how would you summarise your incredible mathematical excellence? Our new approach to maths really has made a difference. While we still teach the core skills, we’ve brought it into everything we do. Children look for the maths in everything and they’re keen to point it out; even counting the beats in the bar in music. They find maths fun and relevant. Now that children can see the purpose of maths, and how it can be applied to everything we do in life, they are so much more motivated to learn. We have already achieved a 21 per cent improvement in maths in our Year 6 SATs progress measure and expect this to continue to rise.


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