St Cuthbert with St Matthias CE Primary School

“I feel so proud when I hear my pupils chanting number bonds or times tables in the playground”

Michelle Webster | Year 1 class teacher

My school joined the Mathematics Mastery partnership in 2012. We knew we needed to focus on maths and the programme appeared at exactly the right time. As the Year 1 teacher, I introduced the approach to the first cohort of pupils.

In 2012 there was a huge attainment gap in mathematics. My highest attainers were achieving a Level 1c/b and my lowest attainers were struggling to correspond count. My pupils had challenging backgrounds with 48% receiving free school meals. At first I was sceptical – I wanted the approach to work but I just couldn’t see how we were going to close the gap and improve maths across the board.

I taught those children using the Mathematics Mastery approach through Years 1 and 2. At Key Stage 1, 100% of them achieved the national average in maths, with 30% achieving a Level 3c and above.

I think every teacher in the world would understand the pride I feel in these results. That pride is reinforced daily when I hear them chanting number bonds or times tables in the playground, or when I hear them talking in full sentences. Not only in maths lessons, but in all their lessons.

The Mathematics Mastery approach is changing my pupils’ perceptions and mindset about maths. I also see them listening, sharing and cooperating more; a result of the emphasis on communication.

My experience as a teacher has also changed. On a fundamental level I feel I understand how to teach mathematical concepts better myself. I am also better able to communicate them to others, both children and colleagues.

I have had a long and varied career in education, both in academia and in the classroom. My work with Mathematics Mastery feels like a natural extension of the experience I have gathered. It’s been hugely rewarding and I can tell you with confidence that the way maths is experienced by both children and staff in our school has completely transformed.

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