Inspiring Progress: Overcoming the challenges of a whole-school textbook programme

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When we implemented a whole-school textbook programme, we were delighted with the results. Before the programme, our KS2 maths results were below the national standards, with KS1 not far behind. We were very aware that maths was a concern from an Ofsted perspective and had been for some time.

However, after one year of Inspire Maths

  • Inspire maths logoWhen asked if they liked maths, 100% of pupils said, “Yes”
  • 95% percent of pupils said that they liked the textbook
  • There was a marked improvement among SEND pupils
  • In the KS1 SATs, 83% of pupils achieved expected standards, with 31% higher standard

Adopting a whole-school textbook programme can be an intimidating prospect; it seems like a massive change, a big investment of time and effort – even when the outcome seems so promising. These are some of the challenges we faced along the road to implementing Inspire Maths, and how we overcame them:

Lack of space

In our Year 1 classroom, we did not have enough space to have all of our pupils sitting down at the same time, which caused problems with the direct teaching approach of Inspire Maths. The solution? We came up with the idea of moving all the pupils into the library – being flexible allowed us to maximise our space and really make the most of the new programme.

Engaging less confident pupils

Winning a trophy, modelling answers and being able to show off their knowledge improved engagement and gave these pupils the confidence in their abilities that they had lacked before.

Parental objections

Parents’ concerns are addressed each September by inviting them to school and showing them the school book, as well as giving them an opportunity to voice questions and concerns. Evidencing the progress that our pupils would make by the end of the book was enough to convince most parents.

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Pupils whose reading prohibited them

As Inspire Maths relies heavily on partner work, we solved this issue by putting our pupils into mixed-ability pairs based on their reading, not their mathematics skills. This meant that one pupil could read to the other. We also implemented visualizers, and these practices had the effect that pupils’ reading also improved.

Ensuring everyone progressed together

We were very keen to embrace the concept of mastery, meaning that everyone progressed together and no one was left behind. To ensure this happened, we cut off all our maths lessons 15 minutes early, and the remaining time was allocated for immediate interventions. As well as teachers assigning pupils to the interventions, pupils were also able to self-refer if they felt they needed further practice. This ensured no child left the lesson without a firm grasp of the topic.

Pupils being distracted at first

Many of our pupils had never experienced a similar teaching style, and at the beginning of the programme we were struggling to keep them all in their seats. We came up with a rather novel solution to behavioural difficulties – one of the teachers dressed up as Winnie the Witch and cast a spell on the pupils to stick their bottoms to the chair!

Implementing Inspire Maths as a whole-school programme transformed our results – our hard work paid off, and by working together, we were able to overcome all our challenges.

Jackie Graham is Assistant Head Teacher at St Paul’s CE Primary School in Sunderland

Find your nearest Inspire Maths Advocate School to attend an open morning, see the lessons in action and chat to head teachers and teachers using the programme.