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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




This project has been conducted by Pyrford Primary School (Shelley Tolley ) and Notre Dame School (Jenn Caverhill)


  • A short homework task is set each day. The homework is differentiated 2 ways to allow those who are confident to consolidate and deepen their learning, while a more supportive exercise allows those who are less confident on the topic to reach a minimum expected level.
  • The research project will be trialled with at least 1 class for a minimum of 1 term.
  • A short evaluation will be completed at least twice (once per half term) during the course of the project; an evaluation template will be provided by SJB.
  • A case study produced to reflect on the project with specific examples and evidence (and research where possible).
  • Showcase the results of the research project at the next primary conference (spring/summer next year)
  • Share the results of the project and work collaboratively to implement it in at least 4 other schools



Pyrford Primary School

  • 480 children aged from 4 years to 11 years (EYFS to Year 6).
  • Two form entry school, with bulge of 3 classes in Years 1 and 3.
  • Project was to take place with Year 1 children as Year 1 teacher is maths lead at the school, consisting of 90 children in 3 classes.

Notre Dame School

  • An independent school serving children aged 2 years to 18 years (mixed nursery to Year 1, then girls Year 2 through to Upper Sixth).
  • Project was to take place with Year 3 children, consisting of 22 children in 1 class.



Sutton Trust states that “… short focused tasks or activities which relate directly to what is being taught, and which are built upon in school, are likely to be more effective than regular daily homework.” but that “Overall the general benefits are likely to be modest if homework is more routinely set.”

“The purpose of homework should be made explicit to learners; for example, to increase knowledge or fluency in a particular area.”

Education Endowment Foundation, November 2015 recommends that “Effective homework is associated with greater parental involvement and support.” and asks you to consider “How will you design homework to encourage parental engagement?”

 Source: Sutton Trust-EEF Teaching and Learning Toolkit 2015


In an interview on Radio 4, John Hattie summarizes his findings on homework. He says:

  • Homework has little effect on pupil achievement
  • 5-10 minutes of homework can have as much of an impact as 1-2 hours
  • It’s better for pupils to reinforce what they have already learnt than to do projects
  • Homework has more effect at secondary level than at primary level

John Hattie says that schools should improve how they use homework rather than getting rid of it entirely.

Source: Hattie, J (25/08/14) The Educators, BBCRadio 4,

The average correlation between time spent on homework and achievement was substantial for secondary school students, but for elementary school students, it hovered around no relationship at all.

 Source: Cooper H, (2008) SEDL Letter Volume XX, Number 2, August 2008, Afterschool, Family, and Community



  • Children assessed individually for a baseline
  • Students completed an online questionnaire as to their attitudes to Maths
  • Parent attitudinal/homework survey
  • Teacher interviews conducted



  • Questionnaires for teachers, children and parents
  • Information sheets for parents
  • Maths packs at Pyrford – number cards, counting beads, dice, etc.
  • Maths Record Books at Notre Dame – record changing attitudes and what was done
  • Collection of suitable activities and homework sheets to be sent home daily

The two schools needed to take slightly different routes to implementation. This is outlined below.


Pyrford Primary School

 Observations from previous year

Class teachers had noted that the biggest impact with home/school learning the previous year, occurred when parents were provided with a 0-6 die at the autumn parent/teaching meeting, and shown a game to help their child learn their doubles. Teachers commented that a large proportion of the children learned their doubles very quickly and could be taught to apply these at school, and build on this knowledge of number facts.


First Steps/Resources

Maths packs were put together, with resources being rolled out to children as they were introduced for use in a homework activity. Resources included:

  • Set of 0-10 number cards
  • 2 x 0-6 die
  • 0-50 bead string
  • 0-50 number square
  • 0-100 number square

Each Monday, a homework instruction sheet was produced and emailed to parents using TeacherText and included the following:

  • An explanation of what was being covered in class, why, and (when possible) how it was taught/approached
  • Daily practical games to be played using the resources provided

Each Friday, another sheet was sent home with a set piece of work for children to complete and return to school.

Each sheet (Monday and Friday) provided comment box and parents were asked to respond to school with how they felt homework was received, whether it was purposeful and how their child managed.

Responding to comments as weeks progressed, structure of homework was altered and currently the structure is:

Each Monday a sheet is emailed and sent home as paper copy and includes:

  • Suggested practical activities to support learning for the week that use the resources
  • Suggested online games/activity to support learning
  • Set piece of work for children to complete and return to school, with challenges that children can choose to complete (providing differentiation)


Parental Survey September 15

  • sent out, 61 responses:
  • 86% felt homework was important to help child’s learning.
  • 74% said their child enjoyed doing homework
  • 40% felt it could cause arguments and that “it can be a struggle to get a 6 year old to concentrate at 6pm”.
  • 51% want a mixture of activities that can be done with support from adult and those that can be done independently by the child.
  • 52% reported that their child attends an after school activity (including school based club, Mosque, music, sports) 3 or more evenings a week


Parent survey end of first term December 2015

90 sent out, 42 returned.

Attitude to homework

  • 95% reported children have enjoyed doing the maths homework (an increase of 21%)
  • 93% reported parents have enjoyed being involved with their child’s homework

Attitude to homework structure

  • 86% rated usefulness of the maths pack as very good or excellent
  • 90% rated the practical activities as very good or excellent
  • 74% rated the online games as very good or excellent
  • 60% preferred a suggested list of activities to be done at any time, rather than a prescribed daily task

Attitude to parental gain and child achievement as a result of homework

  • 95% felt it had been useful in helping parents understand the skills children need to learn
  • 93% felt it had helped their child to practice and consolidate learning that happens in class

69% want homework to continue in its present form


Notre Dame School

The project was initially earmarked for a Year 6 class. However, it was changed to a Year 3 class in September. This means that the daily homework only began at the start of the second half of autumn term (2/11/15). The daily homework research is due to conclude mid-February, however the class have requested we continue with it in its current format.


First Steps/Resources

  • Girls were given a homework diary to be covered in what they considered to be ‘maths’ pictures. This was to be their Daily Maths Record Book. It created a sense of excitement, pride and ownership.
  • Letters were sent home to the parents explaining the reasoning behind the project.

Each Monday, a homework instruction sheet was produced and stuck into their homework diaries:

  • This explained the required activity or exercise for each afternoon
  • Homework was differentiated and linked either to the specific topic for that week, or specific practice in mental arithmetic and problem solving
  • Consisted of a combination of mental arithmetic workbooks, online exercises, worksheets and practical activities and games.

Children and parents were required to comment in the Maths Record book for each activity they completed. This was anything from “This work was very easy” to “She found this incredibly difficult, can you please go through (this topic) with her in class.”

The comments in the Maths Record Book were used to plan and differentiate both future homework and in-school lessons.

When asked about the daily homework, the children have all said that they would like to continue with this system, as it consolidates what they have learnt for the week.


Results of child attitudinal survey October ‘15 vs January ‘16

  • 24% of children stated Maths was not one of their favourite subjects, vs only 10% after half a term of daily maths homework
  • Differentiated homework means that the percentage of children who are confident in their maths knowledge has improved from 52% to 75%
  • In the class, 80% of children now feel like they know what they are being asked to do, up from 62% in October. This includes both EAL and SEN children.
  • The practical activities have illustrated that maths is useful in many more places than the classroom, and there is an increase in children realising that they will need maths in any future job they have – whereas in October 25% of girls had thought they wouldn’t need maths, 100% of the girls now know that maths is everywhere, and similarly can be used to solve all sorts of problems
  • Confidence in times tables and mental arithmetic have also improved




  • Not all parents are engaging in homework activities.   Have emailed the instructions/directions and provided paper copies, along with the maths resources in the children’s maths packs. However, we still do not have 100% involvement and some parents are complaining that we are expecting too much of the children. Children have too many afterschool activities or clubs and homework is not seen as a priority.


  • There are some girls who do not stick to the time limit of 10 minutes and prefer to sit working on homework for longer. Parents miss the point by saying they don’t have time during the week but will “catch it all up over the weekend”. This can only be overcome by long term ‘training’ of the children and parents to see the importance of little and often, rather than leaving it to complete in one big chunk.


  • Setting differentiated daily homework takes up a large chunk of time for the teacher. It then takes even longer to mark the work daily, and the timetable does not often allow for this – especially as you get higher up in the school. This has been overcome by setting online work (marked by computer) and by parent marking of mental maths – which also enables immediate feedback. In the lower year groups, we suggest there are more practical real-world based activities and games to be completed.


  • The timings of the project mean that there has not been enough term time to give a full picture of the impact of setting daily homework.



One term is too short to have definitive proof of impact, however it does seem to have improved attitudes towards maths and confidence in the subject.

With more time, and rolling out across the whole school, we believe that children would become more used to doing the work in smaller chunks, little and often, rather than one big piece of work a week – for example overall Times Tables test results in the Year 3 class have improved since we started testing the girls daily rather than weekly (started last year).

We feel that it will make a positive difference in the medium to long term. I’ve seen the difference that regular homework on Accelerated Maths (online programme) can achieve and am hopeful that similar, if not better, results can be attained through regular practice via a more varied level of approaches to support, consolidate and extend classwork.

This supports the predictions, however, it is important to note that this should not be taken on as a single solution, and instead must be adapted to fit into the culture of the school.


Example comments from parents on surveys

“A very enjoyable experience. Would like it to continue.”

“I have been surprised by how much (she) has improved with her maths over one term.”

 “The online games became a turning point in interest. They were thoroughly enjoyed… He’s improved a lot this term, in my opinion.”

“We have found that the homework has helped and (her) learning has suddenly come along this second half of term”

 “(Her) maths skills and speed at recalling number facts have visibly improved hugely since the homework started so I am all in favour.”

 “I think the concept is good and my child is keen to do it. “

 “I think that any work that comes home from school can only aid in the children’s development. Keeping it concise and not too long (especially for parents who work/have other children) is helpful too.”


Other comments, regarding types of activities and future suggestions

“I prefer the practical activities to online games as you can do them on the journey to school.”

 “More games which can be done in the car…. (he) manages better without props to distract him.”

 “Doing it every night was a bit too much for us so we ended up doubling up on some nights. It was much easier when it was suggestions.”

 “Keep up with the online games. It makes it fun.”

 “More easy reasoning questions.”

“Perhaps some sheets of easy sums and a challenge to time yourself to get quicker at recalling them.”

 “I think the homework should be more ability driven and tailored to the child’s ability as setting work that is too easy could disengage the child. Maybe do workbooks for the children on-line that have levels to work through.”

 “I would prefer a book to hand homework in.”

 “(He) has enjoyed the homework and been challenged too.”

 “Five times a week may be a bit much, three times a week may be better.”

 “I like having a combination of worksheets, games and online activities. It keeps it interesting.”

 “I feel much happier tackling my homework on my own now – I thought I wouldn’t like it but more maths every day has made it seem easier.”


Observations/Children’s progress

Class teachers report an increase in children’s engagement with maths and their levels of confidence with number facts and calculation, although this cannot be attributed entirely to the homework!

It has definitely increased parental involvement and engagement in their children’s learning in maths and raised the profile of maths with parents in Year 1 and Year 3.

This correlates with current research and pedagogical theory.



  • Key message should be ‘Little and Often’
    • This needs to be communicated clearly to parents from the start
    • Children must be taught the value of daily practice
    • Homework must serve a purpose and not just ‘fill time’


  • It should involve not only consolidation of the week’s work, but also times tables, mental arithmetic skills and problem solving
    • Give parents practical solutions to fit this into a busy working day e.g. Practicing tables or number bonds in the car every day, or practical activity asking the time at random points through a day, or asking children to help with the costing of shopping trips
    • Use to illustrate the practical real world use of maths skills


  • Must be adapted to the resources, requirements and culture of each particular school environment
    • Should fit in with expectations and demands on children (extra-curricular commitments etc.)
    • Make use of existing resources as much as possible
    • Meet expectations of parents as far as level of work required
    • An element of fun, and opportunity for challenge for all abilities, should be evident


  • Daily homework cannot be used as a stand-alone solution, but instead should be seen to support the wider teaching practice
    • Looking at methodology and using the homework to consolidate knowledge
    • Using terminology to discuss and understand what is happening
    • Should be a tool to help improve maths skills and confidence in all areas of maths
    • Must not be threatening or used as punitive measure!


  • If adapting this programme of daily homework, it must be ensured that it does not become onerous for either children or teachers
    • Setting of differentiated homework daily is work intensive
    • Work set needs to be marked daily in order to be effective
    • Solutions need to be found to avoid it becoming unmanageable
    • Must link clearly to learning in class that day/week


  • Trackable online maths programmes (e.g. Accelerated Maths, PurpleMash, Mathletics) should be investigated to help provide options within budget that are workable for teachers, as well as providing cross curricular links to ICT which involves different thinking skills


Click here to download the powerpoint on Daily Homework from the spring conference  Session 2 – Homework

TC 3

This project is being undertaken by Deb Harper at South Farnham School and Tom Collins at St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, Guildford.

Scope of project

To develop a primary mastery curriculum which will be accompanied by a variation document providing examples of how to extend students laterally.

  • Three strands:
    • Arrange the KS1 and KS2 primary curriculum objectives into a coherent and progressive mastery curriculum.
    • Identify which of these objectives can be taken out of numeracy and addressed in other topics
    • Create examples of variation to address these objectives and to allow teachers to extend students laterally (this does not need to be a full set of worksheets but key examples of different variations which can be shared and then further developed. More than one example may be needed for each variation to show how a variation can be progressed).


By November, an outline of the order of topics had been drafted for each Year group. Teachers had begun to create resources that encouraged depth of learning and developed fluency, reasoning and problem solving skills. At this stage, the White Rose Maths Hub Schemes of Learning were discovered!

Although it was nice to see that another Hub was thinking along the same lines as us, it quickly became clear that the resources that their projet was considerably further ahead than ours, and there was no point in duplicating work!

  • White Rose Maths Hub
  • Based in Halifax, Yorkshire
  • Trinity Teaching School alliance
  • Published FREE scheme of learning for KS1 and KS2
    • Mastery Curriculum Model
    • Fluency, reasoning and problem solving questions
    • Assessments

Is it important to register with the White Rose Hub to ensure you are notified when new materials are produced. This package is not yet complete and further assessments and resources will be available throughout the summer term.

The White Rose Schemes of Learning give Overviews for each Year Group which detail the number of weeks that should be spent on each topic. The example below shows the overview for Year 5.

Curriculum 2

curriculum 1There is further information within the Schemes of Learning which details the specific learning objectives that should be taught in each topic section. The example here shows the objectives that should be covered in the 5 week fraction topic that takes place in the Spring term of Year 5.

Though this is extremely useful as a starting point, many Primary teachers we have spoken to are struggling to understand how to structure lesson plans so that these fractions objectives fill 25 lessons.

Collaborative Working

In order to address the areas highlighted by teachers, we will be working in collaboration with the White Rose Hub to produce some supplementary resources. Deb and Tom are working on producing a lesson by lesson breakdown for each topic to give teachers a better indication of how much time should be spent on each objective and how the learning could be scaffolded.

curriculum 4

The White Rose Schemes of Learning also give some examples of questions and tasks which develop student’s fluency, reasoning and problem solving skills of each of the national curriculum statements.

Curriculum 3

curriculum 6The White Rose documents have been extremely well received by Primary teachers, but some have commented that they would find powerpoint resources beneficial so they can be used within lesson slides. Deb and Tom are planning on linking the powerpoint resources developed by teachers at South Farnham and St Joseph’s to selected learning objectives, providing additional lesson resources. Here are some examples of some additional fluency, reasoning and problem solving questions for one fractions objective.curriculum 7curriculum 8

Textbook Mapping

The final aspect of this collaborative project is the development of a textbook mapping document. This will enable teachers to see how their current textbooks can be used to fit with the White Rose Schemes of Learning. The aim is to link exercises in 3 main textbooks (Busy Ants, Inspire and Maths No Problem) to specific learning objectives.

curriculum 5

End Goal!

The aim is to work with the White Rose Maths Hub to produce a FREE fully resourced package that includes the following:

  • Mastery Schemes of Learning for KS1 and KS2
  • Lesson by lesson learning objectives for all topics
  • Mapping to popular text books for all topics
  • Bank of questions for each learning objective
  • PowerPoint resources with fluency, reasoning and problem solving questions for selected topics
  • Termly assessments

We hope that the supplementary resources will be available for the Autumn term by June 2016.

Click here to download the powerpoint from the spring conference Session 1 – Curriculum Design