This group of neighbouring schools in Cornwall is working together to establish a series of ‘rich tasks’ in mathematics which would be accessible from the Foundation Stage through to Year 9 with the purpose of supporting all the schools in the group with Assessing Pupils’ Progress (APP) by having common progressive materials.
Falmouth School is the lead school for the Falmaths network. It is an 11-18 mixed community comprehensive school, and has specialist status for Business Studies and Enterprise. In a recent Ofsted inspection the School was judged as ‘outstanding in all areas of working with parents.’
- Falmouth Primary School
- Falmouth School
- King Charles C of E Primary School
- Marlborough School, St Francis C of E Primary School
- St Mary’s Catholic Primary School
The appointment of new Headteachers across many of the schools in Falmouth provided a catalyst for change. They recognised the benefits of collaborative work to secure school improvement, thereby improving learning outcomes for young people across the town.
The Falmouth Primary Learning Network was set up in 2005 to develop collaborative working across Falmouth schools, with the aim of developing consistency and creativity in teaching and learning. The initial focus was developing writing. In September 2007 the focus changed to mathematics, but, when in September 2009 the focus changed again to MFL, the Falmaths network was formed to continue the collaborative work already taking place. Funding was received from NCETM to establish the Rich Tasks Project.
Leadership and Management structure within lead institution and partnership
The AST at Falmouth School has worked closely with others, and with the agreement of the local Headteachers, to determine the initial direction of the network. She has since organised and hosted meetings. Attendance was regarded as voluntary from the start, but has been very good. The AST keeps the Headteacher, the Deputy Headteacher and the Head of Department informed, but has been given a free hand with the project. Key support has been offered by the Assistant Headteacher of one neighbouring primary schools who shared some of the responsibility, although he has since taken up a new post out of the partnership. All the Headteachers within the group approve of the collaboration and have given their consent to its work. The success of the partnership has been strengthened by the work of the AST of Falmouth school. However, both the new KS3 Co-ordinator and the Assistant Headteacher (with responsibility for Teaching and Learning) wish to be involved in the project which will help in succession planning.
Development activities and their impact
Prior to the formation of Falmaths, the focus for the year 2007/08 was the teaching of calculation. The projects included writing a calculation policy from Foundation through to Year 7, and the formation of a Transition Unit from Year 6 to Year 7 (including tasks given in Year 6 with awards given out in Year 7).
The partnership held a mathematics training day resulting in priority being given to investigations rather than the traditional mid-term planning. Training for teaching assistants has included ‘Happy Puzzle Co’ workshops (which were held at both primary and secondary level, and included a parents’ evening,) and ‘Active8’ (a combined Mathematics/PE day which was held for all partnership schools).
Since the inception of Falmaths, there have been three whole-network meetings and three collaborative planning afternoons. These have been attended by the mathematics department of Falmouth School, plus representatives from all the primary schools.
The schools now share a common vision but from different perspectives. There is increased creativity in their approach to mathematics. They share resources, particularly for planning and transition activities. The lead school hosts a transition portal which the primaries may access. The transition from year 6 to year 7 is now more successful, noticeably with the current transition cohort. This year’s year 7 (moving to year 8) have substantially better attitudes to mathematics than previous cohorts, including those pupils in the lower sets.
Dissemination throughout lead institution and partnership
The AST, the new Key Stage 3 Co-ordinator, and the Assistant Headteacher for Teaching and Learning, will promote ideas that have proved successful within the project. They will work to embed them into the schemes of learning at KS3, both within mathematics and as part of a blended learning project. The Headteachers of the primary schools enable partnership representatives to disseminate good practice throughout their schools via staff meetings.
These include termly meetings to delve further into APP in respect of the Rich Tasks (using NCETM funding) and to maintain the current momentum. Training sessions will take place for TAs and parents in the use of the Calculation Policy (NCETM funding also supporting this). A new focus is to be agreed by the Headteachers and funding sought accordingly.
This is an improving situation. The continuation of external funding is paramount to continuing success, to release teachers to attend planning afternoons. Although succession planning is in its early stages, the need for continuous improvement is acknowledged by all partner schools, and greater expertise is developing within those schools.
Key Influential Factors:
- Enthusiasm of the AST leading the project is the dominant factor
- The focus is consistently on teaching and learning
- Quality of the activities is regarded as a priority
- Role of NCETM in funding school based research and sponsoring meetings is acknowledged as vital
- The support and commitment of Headteachers in the partner schools adds strength to the project.
For further information contact
Karen Pearce (AST Mathematics), PE@falmouth.cornwall.sch.uk