Developing pedagogical expertise in KS2 Mathematics

St John's Church of England First School, Wimborne

1. Overview

The project sought to address a lack of expertise in delivering Key Stage 2 maths across Dorset schools. This had resulted in poor outcomes for Dorset pupils. The aim was to improve the level of expertise in teaching, learning and assessment, by improving subject specific pedagogy using evidence based research, thereby improving progress and outcomes for all pupils. The long-term aims of the project were that the progress at KS2 would not be significantly below national rates for any group of students. Short-term aims were that teachers’ knowledge of pedagogy and skills would be improved, and the capability of maths leads in schools to bring about change increased.

2. Good practice to share with others interested in running school improvement projects to ensure projects deliver the intended outcome.

The project lead said that:

  1. Use of Education Endowment Fund (EEF) evidence based material to provide structure was very effective. The audit tool enabled professionals to create a baseline and provided clear success criteria to evidence progress and impact.
  2. The use of experienced Specialist Leaders of Education (SLEs), with a track record of school improvement, to provide bespoke support to schools was a successful approach. Over time, they built trusting and honest relationship with teachers, which enabled change to take place.
  3. Half-termly train the trainer sessions for the SLEs working in schools, delivered by the strategic lead for the project, provided effective CPD sessions for them and offered quality time to reflect, evaluate and share best practice. This built the capacity of this group of system leaders.
  4. High quality training from external providers, bespoke to the needs of the participating schools was a very important element of the programme. 100% of the evaluations stated they were useful or very useful.
  5. Establishing a steering group that met regularly provided an external view and evaluation of termly progress and consideration of next steps.

3. What the project may do differently in the future

The project lead suggested:

  1. Identification of schools to participate need careful consideration. This project chose First and Middle schools intending to offer cross-pollination and improvement across the KS2 age range. In practice, this was not consistent across all schools. The majority of First schools were not target schools for improvement and as such already had strong practice in place. Although there were some strong connections and shared CPD made between First and Middle schools, this was harder to achieve than expected.
  2. Ensure all headteachers have a full understanding of the project aims and expectations from the start of the project to maximise engagement and commitment from schools.
  3. Time the project to run from the start of the academic year to the end; starting mid-year made it more challenging to get started quickly
  4. Having a clear point of contact to discuss finances with each school makes managing the overall project budget easier and ensures all the money allocated to schools is claimed in a timely way.

4. Sustainability measures taken by projects to ensure improvement are sustained beyond the funding period.

A Sustainability plan was created by SLEs and Maths Leads in each school with the agreement of the Headteacher/Senior Leadership Team to:

  1. Agree the final position of the school’s work, the outcomes and the next steps
  2. Indicate the value of continuing to use the EEF toolkit to audit their needs, precisely identify priorities and success criteria
  3. Consider further SLE support to be bought in termly to support monitoring and evaluation ie book scrutiny, lesson observations and any other training needs.
  4. Identify training needs for individual staff , department or whole school
  5. Link with appropriate Maths Hubs work groups ie Primary Mastery Programme
  6. Confirm arrangements to monitor attainment and progress scores within KS2 results 2019, 2020, 2021 to identify longer term improvements and gains
  7. Contribute to existing networks and develop new networks to share and disseminate effective pedagogical practice in KS2 mathematics post project

In addition

  1. The project worked to ensure teachers and maths leads were developing the confidence and expertise to lead improvement in maths across their school and beyond through the external input combined with the work with SLEs
  2. SLE Evaluations/testimonials with schools provided reflections of progress and achievements which highlighted impact
  3. The project team sought to identify and develop systems leaders from within SSIF schools and facilitate professional development towards SLE designation for key system leaders.