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Developing the best response for your primary school to our ‘new normal’

Blog: Dr Helen Drury, Founder of Mathematics Mastery and Director of Curriculum Programmes at ArkCurriculumPlus

Developing the best response for your primary school to our ‘new normal’

Posted: 1/07/20

In this blog, Helen explains how Mathematics Mastery can support your primary school over the coming months. Drop us a line via partnerships@arkonline.org if you'd like our support.

With the end of this exhausting, unusual and emotional term in sight, we’re all thinking hard about September and beyond. A lot of questions remain unanswered:

  • How large will classes be next term?
  • How much of the time will children be in school and if we use a new rota, what form will it take?
  • How often will children, bubbles, classes or schools be required to self-isolate?

One thing remains certain – we all want every child, regardless of background, to receive the best possible education.

Our partnerships team is available to speak to about how our programme can deliver on these challenges, simply book a call to hear from one of our experts.

Dr Helen Drury

Our maths programme works with over five thousand teachers across the UK. They are sharing their concerns with us about how they will manage the effects of school closures and we are supporting them in the following areas:

1. Making up for learning that students lost this year because of the pandemic.

2. Ensuring continuity of learning whether at home or at school during the next school year.

3. Supporting and developing teachers despite the challenging context

Making up for lost learning

With little notice, the spring term was cut short, and many children have been at home for most if not all of the summer term so far.

Teachers will need to ask what key maths learning of skills and concepts have pupils missed out on?

To support teachers’ response to this, we’ve remapped the curriculum for 2020-21 to take account of the very different starting points the children will have in September and we’ve developed additional teacher guidance for each year group to indicate which topics are likely to need more time and attention because of lost learning this term. We’re also highlighting and making available the key lessons from a class’s previous year group to help teachers fill the gaps.

Identify the topics that need more time

In year 2, for example, we’re recommending that teachers almost double the time that they spend developing number sense and additive reasoning within 100 next term. We anticipate that lost learning will mean the new year 2 cohort will be less confident with unitising (making a group of ten) and applying an understanding of number bonds to addition and subtraction. The investment of time in year 2 will mean less flexibility for consolidation of this term’s usual content but we’re sure it will pay off.

For teachers across year groups, our bite-size teacher PD will identify the key concepts in each unit and help teachers understand and teach any prerequisite learning.

For those not on our programme, here are the questions that we suggest you answer to help prepare for September.

  • What are the key concepts and skills that were given less attention in the summer term for your new year group due to school closures?
  • Which of these are vital building blocks for learning in the autumn term?
  • Which of these key concepts and skills are foundational for future learning after the autumn term, both later in the 2020/21 school year and beyond?
  • What can you afford to spend less time on in the autumn term’s programme of study and beyond?
  • How much time will you spend on teaching the key concepts that pupils have missed out on and when?

Our partner schools give a little time every day to Maths Meetings – fun activities that help to consolidate and practice key ideas – you might want to consider introducing these to incorporate lost learning.

Continuity… whether at home or in school

Although home learning is being painstakingly set, take up varies between families.  It’s not easy to work out which child has completed which maths activity.

It’s looking likely that most, if not all, year groups will be back in school from September, but they’ll still be spending both regular and unanticipated periods of time learning from home.

  • How can teachers help children make connections between their maths learning at home and at school?
  • How can teachers help every child learn more, remember more and do more maths in a ‘blended’ approach of at-home and in-school learning?

When children are in school

Our programme provides all of the professional development, planning guidance, assessment support and classroom resources that teachers need to teach world-leading maths lessons.

When children are in school, our programme gives you the confidence that your pupils are getting the best possible maths teaching from teachers who are receiving the best possible support and guidance.

…and when they’re not!

We have aligned our normal in-school resources and the integrated professional development that we offer with video lessons. These present one solid way that schools can flexibly plan a blended approach that suits whatever situation your school finds itself in.

It means that whenever you have some children in school and some children at home, you can be confident that they’re all getting the opportunity to learn well-timed key content and skills. It’s not a perfect replacement for in-school learning but it’s the best solution for the difficult times that we find ourselves in.

For every maths lesson taught in school, there will be a Mathematics Mastery video lesson that the teacher can point children and parents to which teaches the same content and skills, using the same terminology, techniques and teaching approach.

Supporting remote teachers

Social distancing and isolation make face-to-face collaboration and teacher development much more challenging. With children’s teacher-facing time likely to be less than usual, it’s more important than ever that every teacher is supported to be the very best that they can be and have the greatest positive impact in each encounter with their pupils.

Free up time!

Teachers need to have their time freed up to think carefully about their pupils and really pay attention to their starting points and current understanding, and then use the best, evidence-informed teaching techniques to move their pupils’ learning forward.

Our programme frees up teacher time by providing world-leading schemes of work, planning and assessment guidance, and integrated, bite-size professional development to support the teaching of each unit.

Easier access to training

From September, we will introduce each unit of Mathematics Mastery at fortnightly Staging Posts via our new online platform, MyMastery.  At Staging Posts, teachers can access the resources, including planning tools and topic-specific professional development, to ensure they are ready to teach the next unit of lessons and have the pedagogic and subject knowledge to keep children on track.

As the nation’s only whole-class maths teaching programme with proven evidence of impact – the EEF found children make two months additional progress in a year on the programme – you can trust us to empower and equip your teachers to offer the best possible maths education to every child.

If you’d like to talk to our partnerships team about how your school can make the most of our programme book a call in with one of our experts. To get straight on board with us, email us at partnerships@arkonline.org.

We wish you the very best of luck in making sure that every child gets the maths education that they’re entitled to, despite the difficult times that we find ourselves in.

– Helen Drury, Director of Curriculum Programmes for Ark Curriculum Plus

We can offer you further helpful guidance and support during these difficult times, get in touch with us.

Looking for more ideas for your lessons? Take a look at our free classroom resources.

View our resources

Schools who join our programme receive a variety of adaptable materials, along with
in-depth training and support, to help you design and deliver lessons more effectively and support your professional development.