Developing and embedding successful and sustainable strategies in Somerset schools to improve progress and attainment in KS2 Maths
Heathfield Community School
There is a clear and demonstrable need to address outcomes in Mathematics at KS2 in schools across Somerset both at the Expected and the Higher standard. Our purpose was to significantly improve these outcomes with regard to both progress and attainment and to ensure that good, flexible Maths teaching practices are embedded into every year of the key stage.
The main focus was to implement a range of proven and successful mathematics strategies in the targeted schools across Key Stage 2 that would lead to improved outcomes in the short, medium and long term.
Our planned outcomes were:
- to move the targeted schools from significantly below expected outcomes to broadly in line with national standards
- to build on this and sustain the increase so that results become significantly above nationally expected outcomes.
- to embed the strategies in a sustainable way into the schools.
- Summative research from the EEF indicated that a successful approach to developing mathematics in schools is 'likely to involve a mix of whole class teaching, small group and one to one tuition, alongside Teaching Assistants delivering structured interventions in a targeted manner' and the programmes and delivery partners have all been chosen to give precisely this mix.
- to ensure that the senior leaders, teachers and the teaching assistants in the targeted schools are all convinced of the efficacy of the programmes, that they are the ones who are empowered to deliver them and that they have the necessary resources to do so.
- to equally empower the students so that they are confident, happy and enquiring users of Maths who have developed the metacognitive skills to transform themselves.
2. Good practice to share with others interested in running school improvement projects to ensure projects deliver the intended outcome.
- Group meetings with representatives of all participant schools (led by the project managers) at critical stages of the programme (e.g. start, one third through, mid-way through etc.) are an excellent way of conveying important information to participants and also gaining feedback from schools, with their views on the progress of the project and how aspects might be improved.
- Comprehensive communications with participant schools is important to ensure information is circulated effectively and their engagement with the project is maximised.
- The Boolean Maths Hub Introduction to Mastery for Maths Leads led by Lisa Pollard was deemed by a significant number of delegates to be an extremely inspiring, motivating and empowering course in terms of how the teaching (and planning of Maths teaching) is approached in their schools. If future, similar projects take place it is recommended that Maths Leads (and subject teachers) attend similar Maths Hub 'Mastery' training sessions early in the programme's delivery to benefit from the added understanding it provides regarding the aims of raising classroom standards.
- IMPACT (Improved Maths Progress and Class Teaching) led by Wessex Teaching School (Huish Primary School) was viewed as an extremely positive intervention by Maths Leads in terms of supporting their Maths planning, teaching practice and providing the opportuity to forge links with other Maths Leads and the space and time to share ideas / resources with each other and gain added confidence to implement new-found knowledge / methods back at their schools.
3. Lessons learned - What the project may do differently in the future
- Delivery of the training simultaneously with a programme of scheduled school visits to ensure an ongoing assessment of school plans and ability to share training across staff members and departments (not conducting the training first, then Quality Assurance some time afterwards). An on-going, formative support process around implementation and follow-up would be beneficial.
- In schools where leadership and management is weak, it is often the case that implementation of new knowledge and skills through training is also weak. Where leadership and management is strong in schools, it is clear to see how this new capacity is being employed with associated impact. At the start of the project, each school could be provided more leadership support to ensure the programme’s integration into School Improvement Plans.
- Throughout the project, the Maths Teaching & Learning, Maths Leadership and Maths Classroom Support training provided was of the highest quality, however if implementation is subsequently weak through poor school/department leadership, the impact in the classroom will be correspondingly weak. Future projects might consider extra, supporting training in school leadership to underpin the main aim of the school improvement intervention.
- There is a case for introducing fewer intervention strategies within one school improvement project, so that those intervention strands that schools/staff are trained in, are then explored and implemented in greater depth, with more time available to train and cascade knowledge across each individual school and the wider project participant cohort. In some cases, schools did not have the staffing capacity to be able engage fully with all the introduced intervention strands, choosing instead to focus on one over others.
- Project Design / Scaled Offer: the project’s design must take into account the size of individual schools and allocate resources and training places accordingly, rather than being a uniform, standardised offer for every school.
- If timelines are too tight for the delivery of various intervention strands of the programme, these time pressures impact greatly on both implementation and subsequent, ongoing engagement.
- Be aware of the fact that teacher staffing changes and changes to school leadership can have a negative impact on the implementation of programme interventions.
- Training programmes in the future should be underpinned with the EEF guide to implementation.
4. Sustainability measures taken by the project to ensure improvement are sustained beyond the funding period
- All participant schools have been repeatedly advised and actively encouraged to contact the Boolean Maths Hub, Jurassic Maths Hub and NCETM for more information on how they will benefit from accessing particular networks of support that are available to them. Some of the participant schools have done this already and have, for example, applied to take part in the next round of the Teaching for Mastery Programme.
- The NCETM SW Regional Lead, Annabelle Grose, produced an individual 'Four Year Potential Maths Development Journey' for each of the 21 participant schools, which has been sent on to them each separately. The Maths Journey outlines the steps/aspects of the NCETM support that would best benefit the school at certain points over the coming years.
- The Director of Taunton Teaching Alliance shared information about the SSIF KS2 Maths Improvement Programme at the Regional Education Partnership Board Meeting with key stakeholder representatives present from across Somerset, N. Somerset, Bath, Bristol, BANES and South Gloucestershire.