Posted on 6th September 2021

Chasing the White Whale of interventions – it can be done!

5:52 PM, 6th September 2021
Chasing the White Whale of interventions  – it can be done!

Chasing the White Whale of interventions – it can be done!

By Laura Tyler, Head of Primary Maths, Ark Curriculum Plus

How putting evidence into practice can help us work towards our COVID recovery goals.

Interventions can often feel like chasing a white whale – we’re all trying to implement them effectively but the intended impact can be hard to attain.

Picture this. You’re a TA. Imagine you’re in a Y4 short division lesson.​ Then you’ve been on break-duty – conflict resolution between pupils. Next up, a Y6 revision lesson on grammar -  semi-colons, passive verbs, perfect-form of verbs.​ Now, lunch-duty – helping manage hundreds of pupils through the canteen. Suddenly, you’re back in Y4 taking a group out to practice their short division. Hold on. How well do you recall the specifics of the precise modelling, language and questioning you observed from the teacher this morning?

TAs can be the unsung heroes of schools but often get a tough deal when it comes to interventions which must match with what’s taught in the classroom. This can be challenging to execute without engaging in teacher training and ongoing subject-specific PD, in the same manner as classroom teachers. With all the best will in the world, preparation time (if there is any) can sometimes be cut too, with TAs going ‘in blind’ to sessions, without time to engage with intervention plans.

Having only been able to scratch the surface in this short article, this is reality for, not all, but many schools and only intensified by COVID. But the EEF has magnified the need for ‘targeted academic support’ as a key strategy for COVID recovery.

So the question now stands, how do we achieve this?

What does the evidence tell us?

The EEF’s School Planning Guide 2021 celebrates interventions as a ‘powerful tool’. But high quality implementation relies on evidence-based approaches, including those outlined in their highly influential ‘Making best use of teaching assistants’ guidance report:

- Brief, regular sessions over a sustained period

-Extensive training, with TAs closely following the plan and structure

-Structured supporting resources with clear objectives

-Assessments ensuring the right support for the right child

-Connections between learning within the intervention and classroom

So, how do we go about putting this evidence into practice?

What’s the solution?

These evidence-based approaches are at the heart of Mathematics Mastery’s ‘Ready to Progress interventions’. Introducing a brand new bank of video-supported interventions that will help schools to target specific areas for the recovery of learning after Covid, and for targeted interventions beyond:

Each short video is watched by the adult and pupil together, modelling the use of representations and language. Pause points are provided for discussion and exploration.

The accompanying activities have easy-to-use ‘in the moment’ guidance for the adult leading the session, including: questions to ask - with desired answers, common misconceptions and how to address them, ideas for depth - discussion-based and practical activities.

The activities offer flexibility to fit your school's intervention slots and the needs of each pupil. Confident pupils may spend fewer sessions on a particular area, whereas others may need multiple sessions to understand and embed key learning.

A diagnostic placement quiz informs intervention programme routes.

What’s more, the interventions align with the DfE’s curriculum guidance for education recovery and the Ready-to-Progress Criteria.

What do teachers love about the Ready to Progress interventions?

“These resources enable our teachers to match the right learning opportunities and tasks to individual students. By replicating the language structures and representations used in lessons, students can seamlessly apply their new understanding and make accelerated progress. The real-time support for adults delivering the interventions has been crucial to ensure the quality of questioning and discussion seen in lessons is reflected in these sessions.”

Hannah Parsons, Network Lead for Primary Maths at Ark Schools

Join the hundreds of schools already using Mathematics Mastery Ready to Progress Interventions, to chase your ‘white whale’ of interventions.

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