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

Posted: 1/07/20

In this blog, Helen explains how Mathematics Mastery can support your secondary 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 but a lot of questions remain unanswered:

  • How large will classes be next term?
  • How much of the time will students be in school and if we use a rota, what form will it take?
  • How often will students, 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.

Helen Drury

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.

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 students 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 students missed out on? 

To support teachers’ response to this, we’ve rewritten our secondary curriculum to show how and when teachers can incorporate lost concepts and content areas from this year in the remainder of their students’ key stage 3 years. We’ve sequenced this to make it clear where the repositioned units fit in a way that retains coherence.  This means that teachers can stay focused on their teaching of particular content areas to help their students catch-up without having to go back to the curriculum drawing board.

Example: Those students moving from year 7 to year 8 in September will have missed learning opportunities about the key content areas of fractions, ratios and percentages.  Rather than suggesting teachers try to cram all of this learning into the start of year 8, where appropriate we’ve reallocated the units as introductions to units which had been designed to develop on the learning of these key principles later in the key stage. By doing so, all of the students will catch up by the end of key stage 3.

Well-sequenced curriculum maps

For this cohort of year 7s, moving into year 8, we’re encouraging teachers to spread the catch-up content over the two remaining years of the key stage; using our world-leading curriculum to help them deliver over the longer-term.

This has been made possible by our curriculum maps only accounting strictly for 32 of the 29 weeks of learning in a year.  The new sequencing gives less room for consolidation or teacher error – making it all the more important for teachers to get it right first time (see my thoughts on how to support teachers below) – but it does all fit in.

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 classes missed out on in the summer term?
  • 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 students have missed out on and when?

Mathematical teaching techniques

It’s worth flagging that we encourage teachers on our programme to focus on the development of mathematical habits of mind: using opportunities to invite students to conjecture, to generalise, to spot patterns and to solve problems. It’s as important to ensure an opportunity to develop these habits of mind as it is to cover missed content areas.

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 students 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 students 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 students are in school, our programme gives you the confidence that your students 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 students in school and some students 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 students 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 students and 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 students.

Free up time!

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

Easier access to training

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.

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 students on track.

As the nation’s only whole-class maths teaching programme with proven evidence of impact – the EEF found secondary students make one month’s 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 student.

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 student 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.

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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.