Gosforth Central Middle School, Newcastle-on-Tyne
Gosforth Central Middle School caters for more than 500 boys and girls between the ages of 9 and 13; years 5 to 8. A new building was opened in September 2004 and children now enjoy the facilities offered by a purpose-built school. Classrooms are equipped with computers and interactive whiteboards.
Specialist subject teachers assist with mathematics in Key Stage 2, and this increases during the four years so that in Y7 and Y8 children are taught by a mathematics specialist with support from teaching assistants.
Arrangements may be made to provide additional support to children with particular learning or language difficulties. They may be withdrawn as individuals or groups from classes or may have the help of an extra adult working alongside them in the classroom. Mathematics is led by an Advanced Skills Teacher who provides regional support for NCETM.
National assessments for the end of Key Stage 2 indicate that pupils are achieving higher than national average for both level 4 and level 5.
An HLTA (higher level teaching assistant) at the school has a mathematics specialist qualification. She has been in this post for 11 years supporting mathematics teaching for up 60% of her time. More recently she has been required to take on a wider role in supporting other areas, though her she is committed to mathematics and science. She has strong and secure subject knowledge. In addition she has access to other training opportunities provided in school and though the local authority.
She identifies pupil confidence and discussion as key factors in her work, and qualities such as patience and a sense of humour as strong points in her approach to this. She recognises an ability to listen to children as well as her own encouragement of teachers to listen to those children and seek other approaches.
Her main work is in supporting less-able and some EAL (English as another language) children as well as some middle ability. Models of support vary from 1 to 1 with a child to small groups inside and out of the classroom. She identifies small group teaching as the best model for both the children and herself. The work is planned by the class teacher but she has the opportunity to “tailor” the delivery and manage children’s difficulties. On some occasions she will assume responsibility for planning and delivery of some lessons.
Working with a strong mathematics team, she is gaining more knowledge of different approaches to teaching and learning as well as recent developments in formative assessment. The department will have regular meetings but she particularly notes the opportunity for a daily chat about a variety of matters [like progress, methods and assessment] is very valuable.
The school also has two teaching assistants (TAs) who offer a large proportion of their time to mathematics. They also arrange and supervise some extra-curricular mathematics clubs [in particular for “Gifted & Talented” pupils. One of these TAs has a science degree from an overseas university and so is well qualified to support and extend these more-able children.
She attends mathematics meetings in school and is able to take up professional development opportunities offered. When she has attended external courses, she has been able to share any new ideas with colleagues. She makes frequent use of the self-evaluation tools on the NCETM portal, looking to relate this to her future professional development needs working with the more-able and older pupils in school.
The school has 11 learning support assistants who manage to share ideas, enjoy a moan and celebrate success on a regular basis. A small amount of liaison with TAs in other schools currently exists and she has visited the HLTA forum on the NCETM Portal to read and share some thoughts.