This 15 minute Teachers TV video clip shows the Headteacher and teachers at Weeke Primary School in Winchester, sharing their enthusiastic approach to the teaching of mathematics. The school was identified by Sir Peter Williams, when conducting his review of Primary Schools and Early Years Settings, as one that demonstrates good practice in mathematics learning and teaching.
The video clip explores, through a series of short interviews with the Headteacher and class teachers in both Key Stages, how putting the fun back into mathematics is a key factor in helping to motivate pupils in their lessons. This is supported with short clips of mathematics taking place in the classroom that illustrate the points outlined in the interviews.
The aims of the resource:
These are to share good practice as identified in the Final Report of the Independent Review of Mathematics Teaching in Early Years Settings and Primary Schools (Williams, 2008) through a series of video clips including interviews and parts of exemplar lessons. The clips show what teachers in the school are doing to strengthen mathematics learning and teaching in school.
Key findings or focus:
Through a series of clips, many of the key features of best practice as identified in the William's review of mathematics are exemplified. For example the clip from Years 1 and 2 in which the teacher starts her lesson by singing 'Alice the Camel' with the class before teaching numbers bonds illustrates children having fun and learning through action. The interview with the class teacher highlights the fact that she really wants the children to enjoy mathematics.
The clip from Years 3 and 4 provides another example of where children warm up through action, as they start their lesson with a mathematics rap where they act out the mathematical symbols they will use later. The rap helps children to remember the stages in writing a written multiplication calculation. The main part of the lesson shows maths being learnt through drama and role play, in this case ordering pizza in a restaurant. The final clip shows the Year 6 pupils going on a treasure hunt to find mathematical clues hidden around the school, illustrating an alternative approach to the learning and teaching of mathematics. It is clear that the children are enjoying the mathematics, even though they are not aware that they are learning. Both of these clips support Sir Peter William's conclusions that mathematics should be purposeful.
It is well documented that one of the biggest barriers to learning in mathematics is the fear of the subject. Indeed, in the executive summary of the Williams Review, Peter Williams states: "Nevertheless, issues regarding the teaching and learning of mathematics remain, and the United Kingdom is still one of the few advanced nations where it is socially acceptable - fashionable even - to profess an inability to cope with the subject." (Williams 2008, P.3). In an attempt to address this, Weeke Primary School have set up booster groups for those children who are less confident in mathematics. The aim of the booster session is to prepare the children before the main mathematics lesson so that they can go into the lesson as experts.
In an interview with the Headteacher, there is recognition that for mathematics learning and teaching to be most effective, teachers need to have secure subject knowledge and enthusiasm for the subject; so Continuing Professional Development in mathematics has a high priority in the school, and time and money is invested to support this.
In accordance with recommendation 3 of the Independent Review of Mathematics, several teachers have become maths specialists and mentors for other staff members, and succession planning has been identified to sustain this.
It is clear from the video clip that the staff at school believe that teachers and children have been put at the heart of learning in mathematics.
The quality, authority and credibility of the resource from your subject perspective in relation to ITE:
The resource is quick and easy to view on the website by following the link, but it can easily be downloaded to a PC so that it can be used in an environment without internet access.
The video sits well within the context of the Williams Review and provides examples of some key aspects of good practice. However, some may argue that the Y1/2 lesson is an example of what would be considered, by many, as a fairly typical lesson in many Key Stage 1 classrooms with children singing counting rhymes supported by actions to enhance learning. Caution should be also exercised when considering the Year 3 /4 example of learning and teaching as many may consider that the teaching strategy of chanting a procedure for calculating, albeit in the form of a rap, demonstrates what is judged to be instrumental or procedural learning (Skemp, 1976).
The implications for ITE tutors/mentors:
This very useful resource which, when used in a seminar, could serve as a stimulus to provoke critical discussion of the Williams Review and what is considered good practice. It could raise many questions about what constitutes effective learning and teaching strategies. It could also be used to provide some examples of what is deemed good practice that may encourage student teachers to take a more active role in the teaching of mathematics. The Year 3 / 4 example could also be used to promote discussion about relational and instrumental understanding (Skemp, 1976).
The relevance to ITE students:
This resource provides an opportunity to consider some of the main findings of the Williams Review in a school context, and to observe and critically review classroom practice and class teacher's reflections. The clips filmed in the classroom can also be used to illustrate some successful learning and teaching strategies that use a more interactive approach in the primary classroom, but critical judgement should be encouraged, as some approaches may be considered more effective than others.
Skemp, R. (1976) "Relational understanding and instrumental understanding", Mathematics Teaching, 77, 20-26
Williams (2008) Independent Review of Mathematics Teaching in Early Years Settings and Primary Schools. Final Report. DCSF publications