Spring Primary Maths Conference

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It’s just over a year since we held the ‘Shanghai Primary Maths Conference’ where we first started to learn about teaching for mastery, Miss Sarah taught two live demonstration lessons and we launched four research projects (same-day intervention, daily homework, classroom design and curriculum planning)…

In that time schools and individual teachers have been hard at work trialling ideas, developing their understanding of ‘teaching for mastery’ and creating resources so it was fantastic for us to have the opportunity today for them to come together and share their experiences and learn from each other.

98 primary Heads, Deputies and Maths Leads from 62 different schools to come together to talk about how we can improve maths teaching – it’s so exciting to see that the work we have been doing of the last 18 months is really having a lasting impression on schools and individuals!


Here’s a quick summary of the day with links to posts on all the different sessions that went on.



Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 16.42.26This is Emily… She’s 11 months old and every day she surprises me! Every day she comes back from the childminders or Granny’s being able to do something new… She’s like a sponge! Like all children, she observes and soaks up every word, every phrase, every expression…

As a parent, I want the best for best for as all parents do. Yes I want her to happy and healthy, but I also want her to be curious and inquisitive and develop a love of learning. I want her to want to understand things, to want to learn everything and to grow in confidence…

Of course, that starts at home with the family and I know that Emily is very fortunate, but from day one at primary school there is another group of adults that will influence who she becomes… the way she thinks… what she loves… what she hates… what she is confident in doing… and what she struggles with.

I want my daughter and her peers and generations to come to develop vondience in maths and to enjoy solving problems and reasoning – skills that stretch far beyond knowing her times tables and being able to add fractions…

I tried out a new hair dresser over Easter and as we started to chat she ask me, “What do you do?” to which I replied, “Teacher”. She followed on by asking me, “What do you teach?” to which I replied, “Maths”… The response was a look of horror closely followed by “I was never any good at maths!”. Although I haven’t ever kept track of the exact number, I would have to guess that at least 9 times out of 10 that is the response that I get! That makes me sad…

In a recent INSET day we ran for an alliance of primary schools we asked the teachers and teaching assistants to raise their hands if they would be one of those who reacted by saying “I was never any good at maths!”… Over three quarters of them put their hands up… Was I shocked? No. Was I sadened? Yes.

It’s time for that perception, that attitude to change… As a Maths Hub we want to work on changing the mind set of all those teachers so that when Emily and her friends go to school they are met with confident maths teachers who are able to develop her curiosity and her understanding of maths so that in 20 years time when Emily’s peers are asked that same question the response is “I loved maths at school!”

So that’s the journey we’re on… As a Maths Hub, we want to support teachers, particularly primary teachers, in improving the quality of maths teaching because if we get it right from day one in reception and slowly build each year then we will get there, we will change peoples perceptions.

GermanEurosThe German football team crashed out of the Euro 2000 finishing bottom of their group. This gave them the wake up call they needed to stop and reflect on why that was and make some significant changes. They decided that their approach to youth development needed a complete overhaul. They set about learning from the best across the world – The Netherlands football association, the New Zealand All Blacks… All the while considering, what is the difference that makes the difference? They borrowed methods and adapted ideas. They poured all their resources into producing greate players starting at grassroots level. They developed full time specialist youth coaches and began working closely with schools.

By 2014 they were back on top of the world, holding the World Cup.

PISAIn 2000, the UK was ranked 8th in the world for Maths in PISA, by 2009 this had fallen to 28th and then in 2012 we’d clawed back to 26th… I’m not a fan of PISA, it has many flaws, but one thing that you cannot argue with is the fact that we were no longer moving up.

It was time for a change. Maths Hubs were born and one of the first things we did was look to the best in the world, Shanghai and Singapore to see what made the difference for them… But like the German Bundesliga did in 2000, we need to borrow and adapt the best ideas and make them work here in England.

As a Maths Hub that’s what we’ve done. Over the last year schools have been trialling some of these ideas to see how we can make them work for us.

The question that every school leader needs to be asking is…

What CAN we do to ensure our children get the very best Maths education in the world?


Session 1

Session 2

Session 3

  • Live demonstration lesson – Year 6 St Joseph’s Primary School & Mr Collins




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