‘Inspire Maths is future proofing both our children and our curriculum’ – Maths Teacher at St Thomas’ C of E Primary School
St Thomas’ C of E Primary School became an Advocate School for Inspire Maths in Spring 2017. Assistant Headteacher Liam Noon, and Maths Subject Lead and Teacher Judith Myhill discuss the triumphs of implementing Inspire Maths, and share their tips for making it work successfully.
When we started, we strategically mapped out where we wanted to go with Inspire Maths that year. We decided to implement Inspire right from year 1 to year 6. Personally, I’m so glad that we did. It became a whole school vision and it meant that we were all in it together.
We had a staff meeting and introduced the part-whole and bar models to teachers. Then we had a visit from Liz Henning (our local PD Consultant) to launch Inspire Maths, and that was absolutely fantastic. The staff were so excited. We had about half a term where teachers were encouraged to just “have a go”. We asked them to choose something that they hadn’t covered yet, and use Inspire Maths. No pressure, just have a dabble! I think it’s really important for teachers not to feel the pressure of having to get results. It really eased everyone in.
Making Inspire Our Own
If it’s going to happen, it has to happen right from the top all the way down. I think it was really important that Liam and I used it too. Even though we didn’t have our own classes, we went into classrooms and we had a go, and that was a really essential learning curve.
We allowed staff to choose their methods and there was flexibility in the way that people taught. The outcome we wanted was for children to be able to use Inspire Maths models by the time they went into the next class, and we wanted teachers to find their feet and become confident.
Developing Our Mindset
We’ve become much more focussed on self-evaluation since starting Inspire Maths, and staff CPD (Continuing Professional Development) has been so vital. I think that’s something that needs to be stressed to any school that takes on Inspire Maths. We encouraged plenty of team teaching as well as frequent reflection and planning. We can’t rely on inset days and whole-school training; it’s those conversations after school and asking ourselves “how did that class go? What are we going to change tomorrow?”
Patience is Key
It’s not going to be an instant transition. We clearly mapped out our vision for each year, and we hope to see the full impact in 5 years. I’ve come across plenty of people who give up after a year of implementing a new programme in schools, and you really need to give the teachers and the children more time to adjust. It’s a long progression, and after all, we’re developing mathematicians for the future!
Mastering Knowledge: The way that it’s set out deepens their understanding and the conversations that the children have. Subject knowledge has enhanced greatly, especially given how deep those books are. We’ve seen growth in the confidence of students and staff, and teachers are now saying they can’t imagine teaching maths any other way.
School Profile: The profile of our school is like a snowball effect right throughout the authority. Maths is buzzing within the authority and that can only be a good thing.
Reflection: It’s enabled us to be able to reflect a lot, in order to move forward as a school. It has also prioritised maths for us, and it’s on the school development programme. We’ve thought about how Inspire Maths has helped comprehension in reading as well, so it’s had a whole school impact.
Results: We recently got the children to do last year’s SATs. We were looking at 90% results so we’re really excited to keep moving forward.
‘I can’t imagine teaching maths without Inspire’
– Maths Teacher at St Thomas’ C of E Primary School