Improving mathematics progress at KS2 to KS3 through sustainable rural solutions.

Cornwall Teaching School Alliance

1. Overview

This project was regionally coordinated with Cornwall and West Devon (CODE) Maths Hub, complementary to All Saints Teaching School Alliance and other Teaching School work. It was a phased development programme in effective mathematics pedagogy, through aspects of mastery, collaboration and meta-cognitive strategies, which evidence shows have a high-effect-size for low-cost and are particularly effective at improving outcomes for disadvantaged pupils, with a focus on developing middle-leaders to sustain and scale the programme.

The project sought to utilise Cornwall and West Devon Maths Hubs’ SLEs, in delivering lesson-study, intervention strategies and develop inter-school teacher research groups, as well as acted on the evaluations of programmes that have been run successfully in the last two years in partnership with the Hub to deliver the most appropriate CPD.

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

The good practice of the project is split into three areas; links, targeting subject leaders and evaluation.

Making Links with those who have similar aims

The success of the project owes much to the close links we established with the Cornwall Maths Hub. This helped us to avoid duplication of training and clashes of dates for events, enabling us to share resources (including our administrator), this combined, we believe enhanced the effectiveness of both initiatives.

Targeting training beyond the subject leaders

We had originally planned to focus the training aspects of the project primarily at the maths leads within the project schools. It became apparent via the SLE visits that in some schools there was a clear need to enhance the subject knowledge of teaching staff and teaching assistants (TAs) in order to accelerate the effectiveness of maths teaching within the project schools.

Evaluation and monitoring

Throughout the programme we asked school leaders and SLEs to evaluate themselves against the six key aspects of the project. We measured perceived progress against the six objectives and compared the similarities and differences in the perceptions of school leaders with SLEs. The aspects which scored the lowest in these evaluations then received greater focus.

3. Lessons learned - What the project may do differently in the future

The lessons learned from this project focused on SLE support and bespoke support to the project’s schools.

Fitting SLEs to the school

Where possible we ensured that we placed SLEs in schools where we felt that they would be of most benefit. This, for example, included placing an SLE who was a previous head teacher into a school where the head was new in post, as well as allowing SLEs to continue working with schools they had supported in the past. This provided continuity, prior understanding, an element of trust and a pre-established professional working relationship between the SLE and the school.

Bespoke Support

Whilst the project had a strong pedagogical drive running throughout, we instructed the SLEs to ensure that they adapted their work with schools to start with the school’s own development plans and priorities. This was designed to avoid a prescriptive one size fits all approach which was likely to be as unsuccessful as it would have been unwelcome.

4. Sustainability measures taken by the project to ensure improvements are sustained beyond the funding period

It became clear from the outset of the project that establishing an effective place for the SSF project in Cornwall meant working closely with the CODE Maths Hub. To this end I set up a Strategic Steering Group for the project which included the Maths Hub Lead, Chris Gould. This partnership was to prove invaluable to the success and sustainability of the project for several reasons.

Firstly, the Maths Hub was well established as the central point of contact for maths related development in Cornwall, and many schools across the county were already engaged with programmes which were being run from the Hub. In addition, the SSIF project was to rely heavily on the use of SLEs to support schools, the number of SLEs for Maths in Cornwall were almost all linked to the Hub in some way and were engaged in programmes already being run. An additional factor was that the landscape of school organisation across the county had become a had complex one, with the project schools being drawn from several multi-academy trusts, the LA, all with various connections to teaching schools. Being linked closely with the Maths Hub gave the project a central and credible position which enabled us to cut through some of these potential divisions and communication problems. In practical terms, the proliferation of maths programmes and projects, particularly those focusing on ‘mastery’, which had stemmed from the Maths Hub meant that many of the schools highlighted for the project were, or had been, already involved in some form of maths support via the hub. Given that there were a high proportion of smaller schools in the SSIF project this led to issues of capacity for those schools. By being able to show that the SSIF project was working closely with the Maths Hub it was reassuring for these schools, especially as we were able to reassure their school leaders that the SSIF project would enhance and complement existing maths programmes.

Throughout the life of the project Chris Gould attended almost all the main training events and gave an update on the latest work of and training opportunities around the Maths Hub. Again, this not only added to the credibility of the project, but also provided evidence of continuity between the work of the SSIF project and the Maths Hub. In terms of sustainability, the fact these close links between the project, the SLEs used in the project, and the Hub made it possible for the work carried out with the schools to be continued and enhanced now the project is complete.