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 class watching a Y2 teacher deliver a lesson on place value within 2-digit numbers.​ Then you’ve been on break-duty – resolving a complex friendship conflict (followed by another group shortly after that)​. 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 Y2 to take a group out to practice their place value. 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 our school but often get a tough deal when it comes to interventions which need to connect with what’s been taught in the classroom. This can be challenging to execute when many TAs have not had the opportunity to engage in teacher training and ongoing subject-specific PD, in the same manner as classroom teachers. Delivering the correct teaching methods and representations doesn’t come easy without the right training. 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 intervention sessions, with no time to engage with intervention plans beforehand.

Layered on with the angst of intervention timetables, challenges faced by teachers and leaders: which child will focus on what aspect of learning, with what adult….when….and where?!

What about the pupils? 

It’s two pronged – it’s crucial we get interventions right for the sake of pupils’ achievement but let’s not forget wellbeing. For a sports-loving pupil getting pulled out of PE to ‘do more maths’, it’s terrible if those interventions ‘miss the mark’.

Having only been able to scratch the surface in this short article, this is reality for, not all, but many schools and has only been intensified by the COVID disruption. 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. These include:

- Brief, regular sessions over a sustained period

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

-Structured supporting resources with clear objectives

-Assessments to ensure the right support is provided to the right child

-Connections made between learning in the intervention and classroom

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 innovative, digital product ‘Ready to Progress interventions’, with solutions to effective implementation integral in its design. 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 video is around 5 or 6 minutes in length and is intended to be 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 are supplied as editable PowerPoints with easy-to-use guidance for the adult leading the session, including: questions to ask - specific to each activity, with desired answers, things to look out for - such as common misconceptions for this area and how to address these, ideas for depth - including discussion-based and practical activities.

The activities offer flexibility to fit your school's intervention slots (whether they're 15-minutes or 45-minutes) and to fit 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 the intervention programme route.

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?

The interventions have provided schools with practical solutions to the challenges of implementing interventions effectively:

“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 in ensuring that 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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Get a peek at what's inside Mathematics Mastery's Ready to Progress Interventions programme with these sample materials, including an activity and supporting video.
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