Meeting the needs of high attaining pupils
This microsite aims to support mathematics subject leaders in primary schools in their work to enhance provision for higher attaining pupils across their schools, and so to help colleagues meet the needs of such pupils more effectively. Many schools are reviewing their provision in the light of the Year 6 Level 6 test, and there is much in this microsite that is relevant to this. But the resources here range more widely and are of relevance across the primary age range.
In 2012 the Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education (ACME) published their report Raising the bar: developing able young mathematicians, in which they argue that ‘the UK is not realising its potential in terms of growing and supporting able mathematicians’ (ACME, 2012, p. 1) and that it is essential that pupils have ‘an experience of school mathematics that encourages many more to pursue mathematical studies at university’. This echoes points made in Ofsted’s 2012 report Mathematics: made to measure, which says that ‘more able pupils in Key Stages 1 to 4 were not consistently challenged’ and that there is still ‘too little using and applying mathematics’ (Ofsted, 2012, p. 7). They also highlighted significant variations in the quality of teaching, even within a single school.
Looking further afield, international studies such as the 2011 TIMSS study indicate that while Year 5 mathematics attainment in England is good in comparison with many other developed nations, attainment in Pacific rim countries such as Singapore, South Korea and Hong Kong is consistently and significantly higher.
A key message of this microsite is that what is good provision for high attaining pupils is, in general, good provision for all pupils. Hence much in this microsite is of relevance to broader school improvement aspirations.
Another key message is that meeting the needs of high attaining children is more about enrichment than acceleration: ‘Acceleration encourages only a shallow mastery of the subject, and so promotes procedural learning at the expense of deep understanding.’ (ACME, 2012, p. 2) The report also says that ‘rich curriculum provision should precede identification of the most able’, that it is through rich provision that children can develop their potential to be excellent mathematicians.
The main focus of this microsite accordingly is on enriching children’s learning of mathematics through the development of mathematical reasoning and problem solving across the age range. Attention is given to relevant pedagogical practice, for example the need to develop purposeful talk in classrooms in order to support mathematical reasoning.
Each section of this microsite has links to resources that will support your work as a subject leader. Not all of these resources are specifically about high attaining children, but they all relate to important aspects of provision for high attaining children.
This microsite also draws on the report Investigation of Key Stage 2 Level 6 Tests (Coldwell et al, 2013). This report is based on case studies of 20 primary schools that entered Y6 children for the Level 6 tests in 2012, discussions with 40 schools who decided not to enter any children and discussions with 20 secondary schools about their attitudes to the Level 6 tests. Relevant findings and issues from the report are highlighted in this microsite.