The case study school is situated in the centre of a market town in an area of high social deprivation; there are 240 children on roll. The proportion of pupils with special educational needs, statements of special educational needs and those eligible for free school meals are well above the national average. Children in the Early Years Foundation Stage are taught in the Nursery and two Reception classes with free flow access to a large, well resourced outdoor area.
Starting the project and using the SET
During the first visit to the school, video clips of children engaged in mathematical activities, both indoors and outdoors were recorded; these were analysed by the teacher and NCETM consultant/researcher in order to establish the focus of the project.
The teacher commented that it was
"a rare opportunity, away from the setting to reflect on the learning taking place and the engagement of individuals and
groups of children."
The NCETM consultant/researcher introduced the teacher to the NCETM website and the self evaluation tool (SET). Following analysis of the video clips the teacher identified development of provision for block play as a focus for the project, with the SET and other information from the web site being used to support this. The teacher recognised that by using the SET to guide her interpretation of the analysis of the video clips a key consideration would need to be 'provision for children at different stages of learning and development.' It was agreed that the ‘Shape, Space and Measures’ section of the SET would be completed at the next visit in January. In the meantime, the teacher and other staff members would use reflections from the first visit to develop the provision for block play.
Outcomes from using the SET
By the time of the second visit, when further exploration of the SET was undertaken, and recommendations for practical equipment to support visualisation of shape were agreed, two areas for block play were established, one indoors and one outdoors. In the outdoor area a ‘building site’ role play had been set up to reflect the interest at this time in the building work taking place adjacent to the Nursery. Consideration had been given to the resources and support materials provided, particularly those with a mathematical focus, for example; tape measures, spirit levels, rulers and metre sticks, in addition to different sized wooden blocks and planks, and a set of foam bricks.
Photographs of buildings and bridges from around the world were displayed to support children with possible ideas for their structures, provide a context, and link their play to the real world. In both the indoors and outdoor areas children were able to explore and investigate their own ideas or use the photographs as a starting point. Analysis of video clips taken during this second visit showed a group of four year olds working collaboratively, and actively involved in their learning for a sustained period. A photograph of a bridge was the focus for this group. They worked together to build the bridge agreeing on the size blocks, the height of each pillar and the distance required between each one. A problem was identified and the children worked together to solve the problem.