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Case Study B - a small rural school

This page has been archived. The content was correct at the time of original publication, but is no longer updated.
Created on 10 August 2010 by ncetm_administrator
Updated on 10 August 2010 by ncetm_administrator

Case Study B - a small rural school

Our school has two classes Class One: FS and KS1, Class 2: KS2; in total there are 37 children.

When we started:
In September 2009, assessments showed that 65% of our KS2 children were working below national expectations in mathematics. There was no reliable data for KS1. Observations of early mathematics teaching showed satisfactory teaching. Lessons were uninspired but functional and teachers had received little input or professional development. In the school there were no mathematics displays.

Around that time conversations with children revealed an ethos indicating the maths was not considered to be a high priority for the children. For many, maths seemed to be something to be tolerated before the interesting stuff begins.

In September 2009, children across the school were interviewed. In class 2 only 2 children in a class of 20 expressed that maths was fun. Here are a few responses from our children:

What is maths?  "Maths is about doing sums" (Gill, Y2) 
Do you like maths? "I might like maths but I get annoyed when I get things wrong" (Paul, Y4) 
  "No. It's hard - I can't do it" (Polly, Y6) 
Where does maths happen?  "Maths happens in the classroom" (Polly, Y6) 
When is maths easiest to learn?  "When you can enjoy doing sums" (Gill, Y2) 
  "When you can work on your own and not have people distracting you" (Polly, Y6) 
When is maths fun?  "When you get things right" (Paul, Y4) 
  "Maths isn't fun" (Polly, Y6) 

OFSTED assessed the school in January 2010 and singled maths as an area of weakness.

Using the EiML materials
Obviously when the project began after Easter 2010 much work had already been done. Teaching standards had been raised and assessed as good and more exciting resources and cross curricular programs and maths intervention had been put into place. In the classroom, talk was encouraged and mistakes were promoted as important in developing maths skills.

We decided to focus on the school and classroom environment. We tried to address the problem that there were no displays and maths was not celebrated in the school. In our staff meeting we used the “Developing a common purpose and a shared culture” material from the EiML materials.

We decided we were mainly ”Category 3” with elements of both four and two. For each of the descriptions we looked at the moving to the next level section in order to agree and action plan. In particular:

How can we create an environment of positive talk about maths?
How can we create a rich learning environment that promotes a wider appreciation of maths?
  • in the school displays were changed. Where display boards were traditionally art-based, many were changed to maths.
  • interactive fractions/decimal display were set up in Class 2.
  • accessibility to resources within lessons was improved to aid learning i.e. Numicon, Multi-link, calculators, etc.
  • a Numicon reference display was set up in the middle learning area
  • we created a maths area in the KS1 class that mixed puzzles, problems and resources. KS1 and FS children do one child-initiated maths activity per day for 20 minutes using any resources they like.
  • celebration assemblies focus on resilience and achievement in maths. Whole school can see that maths is valued.
  • school celebration display for parents that traditionally celebrates sports achievement, or displays finished writing, now also celebrate maths achievement including showing unfinished work and highlighting the process of working mathematically.

Teachers are more confident experimenting with maths across the curriculum and use a range of resources and strategies in class.

Maths is promoted and celebrated as a life skill.

Children feel more confident to talk about and use maths. Mistakes are not seen as negative.

Talking to the same children in June 2010 revealed a change in ethos. Children were more positive about maths and recognised their achievements in the subject. 14 of 16 children in Class 2 said maths was fun.

What is maths? "Skills for your brain" (Paul, Y4)
  "Sums and measuring things and patterns" (Gill, Y2)
Do you like maths? "Yes, I like working with my friends to solve a problem together" (Paul, Y4)
  "Yes, I like fiddling with numbers in my brain" (Polly, Y6)
Where does maths happen? "When you have a problem, like something has gone wrong, like if you were on a building site" (Gill, Y2)
  "You learn like if you were a referee in cricket or working in a sports shop" (Paul, Y4)
  "Maths happens all the time" (Polly, Y6)
When is maths easiest to learn? "Pictures - so if I solve a problem I can see the problem" "Polly, Y6)
When is maths fun? "When I am determined to do it. Like when things are hard but not relaly hard. Not too easy or boring. Working with someone who can do it and getting them to help. I don't get envious any more" (Polly, Y6)

Average point progress 2009/2010

Class 1: 4.0

Class 2: 4.2

This represents a significant increase from previous years where progress was consistently below 3.0.

Next steps:
In September we plan to revisit the common purpose descriptions that we discussed at the start of the summer and agree a new action plan. This should be a very positive experience for the staff due to the progress made this year.

We plan to develop our environment and learning culture to reflect Description 1.

Having used one of the core responsibilities; “Developing a common purpose and shared culture”, we can now use the other core-responsibilities to maintain and extend progress.






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