Posted on 3rd May 2024

Collaborative Action Research – Maths Leads reflect on their first steps

6:44 AM, 3rd May 2024
Collaborative Action Research – Maths Leads reflect on their first steps

Collaborative Action Research – Maths Leads reflect on their first steps

Starting the journey

This is the second of our blogs in our Action Research project with the North West 3 Maths Hub. We talked to the maths leads at the five schools taking part to explore their current situation, goals, expectations and early experiences of joining Mathematics Mastery Primary as they participate in a Mastery Readiness work group.

The schools are excited to support all their pupils with the mastery approach, appreciating how Mathematics Mastery Primary provides a structure and use of language which works well for SEND pupils and pupil premium learners. They’re already seeing the benefits of collaborating in the Maths Hub working group, implementing practical ideas from other schools in their classroom and receiving help to deliver impactful CPD for their staff teams. Looking forward, they’re each anticipating more consistency in maths across their school, and many are hoping to adopt Mathematics Mastery assessments as a tool for adaptive learning.

Overcoming challenges to enable deeper learning

The schools are facing a variety of challenges in maths, which they all hope Mathematics Mastery Primary, and the support from being in the Mastery Readiness group, will help them to address:

  • low prior attainment
  • wide attainment gaps within year groups
  • pupils not meeting the expected standard
  • large numbers of SEND and pupil premium
  • pupils with a fear of maths.

“Maths at the moment is a bit feared by our pupils and I want them to enjoy it … every maths lesson should be talk, talk, talk. Manipulatives need to be available all the way up to year 6. I want the children to be speaking, to be able to express and explain their reasoning, and feel proud of themselves.”
Lynsey Allison, Maths Lead, Our Lady of Walsingham Catholic Primary School

“It would be amazing if we could get more children to the expected standard for each year. It would be nice if we can get 80-90% of children being where they need to be with a greater understanding of maths and being able to talk through maths concepts.”
Dan Foster, Maths Lead, St Gregory's Catholic Primary School

Knowing that other schools with pupils in similar situations have succeeded with Mathematics Mastery Primary is encouraging for these maths leads. They identified various aspects of the project which they think will have the most impact in these challenge areas:

  • Mathematics Mastery supports SEND children well, giving them a rich vocabulary, through explanations and visual manipulatives that lend themselves well to adaptive teaching. It helps them to work more independently, to develop knowledge at their own pace.
  • The programme’s embedded formative assessments were also valued for pinpointing where children are in their learning journeys and for enhancing inclusivity with the schools.
  • The six-part lesson structure breaks things down into simple steps that lead to deep learning.
  • The CPD, as part of the programme and through the Maths Hub, will develop their staff teams, often by supporting them to make comparatively small changes.

MMP NW3 Baseline Blog Article Image 2

Collaboration drives new practice

It’s already clear that there are advantages to working together as a group of schools on Mastery Readiness and joining Mathematics Mastery at the same time including:

  • Taking practical ideas to implement in the classroom from the work group.
  • Discovering new teaching strategies to share with staff.
  • Subject experts from the Maths Hub and AC+ can help develop a tailored staff CPD session or even co-deliver it.
  • Building your network.

“You see stuff and you get to talk to other people about how they work things out. I took away the idea of letting pupils draw on tables. We get them to draw place value grids and they'll use the idea of moving counters along, then multiply them by 10 and 100 – they absolutely love it.”
Courtney Hughes, Maths Lead, Alt Bridge School

“After a work group meeting, I led session in which I guided staff to implement a little daily 5-minute reasoning task.[..] It's like an extra person to lean on and see, OK, what are you doing? How are you getting on?”
Jennifer White, Maths Lead, Christ The King Catholic Primary School

“They helped me to build a staff meeting to introduce the mastery approach. They pitched it the right way, not overwhelming staff.”
Joelle Harter, Maths Lead, Blueberry Park

“It’s a support network. It’s great to have someone to bounce ideas off. If something isn't quite working, I can ask the others ‘How have you got around it?’”
Dan Foster, Maths Lead, St Gregory's Catholic Primary School

Resources, CPD and expert support combine to deliver consistency and build teacher confidence

All five maths leads expressed their optimism that having a comprehensive package of curriculum resources, CPD and support would bring a fresh perspective to teaching and would make developing their mastery approach more efficient. They agreed that with all staff working with the Mathematics Mastery programme there was potential to deliver a more fulfilling and creative, and yet still consistent, experience.

They were particularly impressed with the meticulously sequenced resources within Mathematics Mastery Primary:

  • the breadth and scope of planning guides and learning materials
  • the integrated assessment for learning
  • the tools for collaborative planning

“There is a value in having a consistent scheme throughout the whole, entire school and giving support to teachers for high quality teaching.”
Joelle Harter, Maths Lead, Blueberry Park

“For teachers, they have the learning objectives, they can see where the lesson is aiming, with clear learning steps. It’s all been thought of.”
Lynsey Allison, Maths Lead, Our Lady of Walsingham Catholic Primary School

MMP NW3 Baseline Blog Article Image

“I love the pre and post tasks. It enables the class teacher to exactly pinpoint where the lesson needs to be pitched or highlights the lack of learning.
Lynsey Allison, Maths Lead, Our Lady of Walsingham Catholic Primary School

One of the core features of the Mathematics Mastery Programme, and something strongly encouraged and supported by Maths Hubs, is employing collaborative planning to build subject expertise and develop consistent, high-quality teaching. This is often one of the biggest shifts in approach and can be hard to implement when time is tight.

“Planning often takes a backseat. The longer you've been teaching, the more you'd probably, wrongly, presume ‘I just know what I'm doing’. I’m hoping that once teachers see results and see it in action, they might think ‘OK, maybe it is worth spending that time looking and going through it properly’.”
Joelle Harter, Maths Lead, Blueberry Park

The journey to mastery is just beginning

The schools will continue their journey of teaching with Mathematics Mastery Primary and collaborating with each other through the summer term and into next year. We’re excited to see the impact of the project being revealed, especially as these maths leads benefit from the support of their Mathematics Mastery subject expert via school visits and as they share practical advice and teaching strategies in the work group.

Next steps

Join our webinar on 23 May to hear more from Lynsey, Dan and Joelle – register now.

Read more about the purpose of this Action Research project in our first blog post.