Those Present: Tricia Opalko, Nancy Rowe and Julia Evans
Discussion Topic: Maths
Infants (Reception, Year 1 and Year 2): What is Maths?
The children were enthusiastic to respond to us and some of the responses were; “you learn about numbers”, “all maths have numbers even if it is a word problem”, “it is shapes, weights and taking away”. All the children, including reception talked about numbers. They said maths usually involved some games.
We asked the children “who liked maths?” All but one said they did like maths. We were interested in the child who didn’t like it and she said she wasn’t keen because she found it hard and didn’t think she was particularly good at it. We asked her what she does in class when she is finding it hard, she said she asked the teacher for help and the teacher helps her. (However, later in our conversation when the children were discussing fractions she happily got involved. Mrs Opalko was quick to reassure the child that she was good at maths).
The children who liked maths gave us the following responses: “I like solving things”, “it’s fun”, “it’s my favourite subject”, “It’s fun because I find it easy”, “Mrs Brookman calls me a Maths Magician!”
The children knew there were different ability groups and that the work was differentiated. When we asked what happened if you were struggling the response was; “If you are not sure you can have help or an easier question”. This child also told us that if you found it easy you were given an extra task.
What do you have in the classroom to help you with maths?
The children told us that they use cubes, number lines and a number square. They told us that they could help themselves to these resources.
What games do you play in maths?
The children said they played snakes and ladders with dice for counting, and the children discussed the game of ping pong between themselves. This game is used to help learn number bonds to ten or twenty. “We play hot seats with times tables” was another response. The reception children told us they enjoy writing numbers in the sky!
Tell us what you know about times tables?
Year 1 children told us they played some times table sorting games on the whiteboard.
Year 2 children told us they had learnt their 2’s, 5’s and 10 times tables. A couple of the children told us they were taken out separately. It was clear they were more able and worked on other times tables.
About half the children practised their tables at home.
Tell us what you know about fractions?
Some of the answers included “fractions is about halving”, and another child; “..for example you could split a circle into quarters”.
Most agree that their maths lessons are fun.
Juniors (Yrs 3-6) – Tell us about Maths.
All the children said they liked maths. The children told us “we warm our brains up for maths by playing some games”.
We asked the children what happens if you don’t understand something in maths. One child told us “if you struggle they (teachers) keep explaining it until you get it”. Another child commented, “Mrs Moore explains things very well”.
We asked them specifically what they thought maths was. The comments were; “geometry, shapes, problem solving and challenging our brains with word questions”.
When asked, all the children could tell us what level they were on. The year 6 children told us they were working hard on revision as they had their SATs soon.
All the children understood that they learn by making mistakes. The children told us that there was always an extension option. On the other hand the children said, “if you don’t understand you can stay on the carpet for help”.
We probed the children further as to the help available if you are stuck on a question or topic. Almost all children mentioned that there was always someone to help if you got stuck. There are TAs or other helpers in the classroom to assist so there is no time wasting. They also told us “we go over questions that we got wrong”, “I used to find maths hard, but I’ve had some extra help at home”, “Mr Corbitt gives us different level work and you choose what paper you want to do”, “Mr McKell makes our maths lessons fun”, “Mrs Rodrigues makes maths fun too, she never lets you go from the carpet unless you are really happy to work on your own”.
The children also told us after most lessons they wrote a reflection in their books. For example, they would state whether they had struggled with the lesson or were confident. Sometimes, they can just put a smiley, straight or sad face. The teacher will then review these comments/faces when the work is marked.
The children explained that they were in groups for ability. Sometimes those groups change depending on the topic.
Four year 4 children told us they had participated in a maths competition recently against 12 other schools. Although they didn’t take a “medal” place, they all really enjoyed themselves.
We started to ask the children about games they played in maths and time tables, but unfortunately we ran out of time. The governors present were keen to follow these questions up at a later date.