Case Study: William Booth Nursery and Primary School Caitlin Gordon
Mathletics Case Studies
We know Mathletics delivers powerful results wherever it is used, but don’t take our word for it. Take a look at what teachers across the country are saying about how Mathletics is impacting learning in their schools.
Rise and shine!Breakfast club helps inner-city primary pupils in their bid for maths glory.
Children come into the school at age three with skills below those typical for their age. The proportion of children supported by the pupil premium is well above average, and the proportion of disabled pupils and those with special educational needs is about twice the national average.
The school’s first set of Year 6 results in 2013 were below average and failed to meet floor standards, with attainment particularly low in mathematics. Given the high numbers of pupils with English as an additional language, there had been an understandably strong focus on reading and literacy skills at the school. But while determined to maintain the children’s engagement with books – teachers use a high quality children’s book as the driver for the curriculum each half term – the school also decided to celebrate maths and redouble its efforts to improve results in this subject.
About the School:
William Booth Nursery and Primary School is a one-form entry primary school in the centre of Nottingham, rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted. It has grown in size over recent years as it has converted from an infant school into a primary school for 200 pupils aged from 3-11. Its children come from a diverse range of families and speak a total of over 35 different languages between them. “The children here are absolutely delightful and represent the school fantastically well,” said Year 4 teacher and maths lead Greg McEnaney.
“Mathletics has been an important part of the mix which has helped us turn maths around at our school”
Greg McEnaney, Year 4 Teacher & Maths Lead, William Booth Primary School.
When Greg McEnaney joined the school in 2013 the school already had Mathletics, the ‘challenge and reward’ digital resource from 3P Learning, but wasn’t really making the most of it. “I could see where it could help us to generate some real excitement around maths,” said Greg. “So we decided to put a real effort behind it.” Key to this was first ensuring that the school’s 11 teachers and 18 support staff were completely up to speed with all its features and capabilities. “Having our TA’s trained in using Mathletics effectively has been a real help and means they can make a real difference to learning, including running intervention groups,” said Greg. Throughout the school there is now an expectation that each pupil will win 1,000 Mathletics points every week. This achievement of getting into the ‘1,000 club’ really means something at the school and is celebrated with certificates, treats and prizes. Staff ensure the school notice boards are updated each week without fail with the certificates for every successful pupil and class. “Numbers achieving those 1000 points differ, but we do all we can to encourage and incentivise them – using the certificates and other little prizes such as nice rubbers, gel pens, highlighters, sweets all help,” said Greg. “The vast majority of our children will feature on that board at sometime during the school year.”
Class challenges are another important strategy. The school will pit Year 3 against Year 4 for example, appointing pupil ‘leaders’ to encourage their classmates to have a go in reaching a class total of, say, 50,000 points that week. “It helps them develop real grit and determination,” says Greg. “It’s good for the pupil leaders to have the responsibility and it helps everyone to develop their learning skills.”
There is also a weekly assembly to celebrate the ‘Mathletes of the Week’. These awards are not for the highest scorers, because then the same few children always win. Instead the teachers reward the children who have made the best effort. “We’ve found this was a more effective motivator,” said Greg. “Not everyone can be the best, but everyone has the ability to increase the amount of effort that they make. At William Booth, we feel that Mathletics is an important part of the mathematical learning of our SEN children. It gives them the chance to be more independent with their learning as they can access Mathletics on their own. Tasks can also be differentiated readily so this group of children can access learning at an appropriate level. The other benefit for SEN pupils is that Mathletics can be used for pre teaching by a teaching assistant before that child is taught the method in the classroom, in order to just provide that extra level of support where required.
Mathletics is sometimes used during lessons, particularly for extension work, but the pupils are encouraged to do most of their work on the resource in their own time – either at home or during school clubs. The breakfast club has been a particular success, attracting up to 50 pupils most mornings to enjoy a free breakfast and a chance to notch up those important Mathletics points before lessons start. Popular challenges are Play Live and Times Tables Toons. “The breakfast club is so popular that we have to operate a rota so all year groups have the chance to attend,” said Greg. “It’s also great to see all the computers being used for Mathletics during the lunch hour too.”
By Year 6, with SATs looming, the school introduces an additional incentive – class points which are won by attempting different specified maths challenges and are also awarded to every child who gets into the 1,000 club. At the end of term these points are translated into a class treat, such as a trip to a restaurant or an activity such as Laserquest. “For Year 6 the motto is work hard, play hard,” said Greg. “We give them lots of different homework activities to prepare them for SATs and we get a bit tougher – any pupil who hasn’t gained membership of the 1,000 club by Friday has to miss a break time to do some work.”
“The biggest benefit has to be that the children in this school love maths”, said Greg. “It’s a ‘yes!’ subject here. We have only had a Year 6 for the past four years, but results are improving all the time.
We were delighted to see 84 per cent of our pupils gain their Level 4 in maths in 2015 – our highest figure yet and a fantastic achievement for them.” Ofsted inspectors have noted that ‘teaching and achievement in mathematics have also improved’ and that ‘homework is used well to help pupils practise their skills and to gain experience in working without help’.
“Mathletics has been an important part of the mix which has helped us turn maths around at our school,” concludes Greg.
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