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Teachers share their experiences of assessing classes with Maths — No Problem!

Editor’s note: Transcript has been edited for clarity.

We asked primary teachers from St Bridget’s C of E Primary School in Wirral to share some of their experiences of assessing classes using the Maths — No Problem! Programme. Here’s what they said.

Assessment data not only helps you gain deeper insights into where children are in their learning, it also gives you the information you need to move them forward. Effective assessment allows you to tackle issues early and often to make sure no learner falls behind.

We asked expert practitioners about their views on assessment and how it works in a maths mastery programme like Maths — No Problem!

How is assessment in Maths — No Problem! structured?

From Neil Le Feuvre, Headteacher at St Bridget’s C of E Primary School, Wirral:

In part of using Maths — No Problem! I know some of my staff, sometimes aren’t able to always complete all of the concepts that children need to cover within the lesson. Sometimes we have to go into the next lesson and make sure that those aspects are really strong, so that their incremental learning can really progress towards the end of the week.

We find that that rapid turnaround in assessment, and making sure we’ve got a really sharp focus on where the children’s learning is at, is different from where we previously have been.

Maths — No Problem! and the structure of that, forces us to do that, but that is a good thing. So that most children are working along and are covering those concepts, but maybe at different levels and depths.

What’s different about Maths — No Problem! assessment?

From Ryan Neal, Deputy Headteacher at St Bridget’s C of E Primary School, Wirral:

Once you’ve done several lessons and you’re used to it, your own questioning as you go, you start to get a bit of a confidence with what to ask and when to ask it and who to ask it to, so your assessment goes from maybe just particular points in the lesson to almost right the way through. The guided practice becomes useful, the workbook marked formally to an extent at the end of it becomes a useful tool. So by the end of the hour, I am leaving that lesson, knowing where my children are at — strengths weaknesses and what to do next.

I don’t necessarily know I could say that every single time previously.

How should you assess using maths journals?

From Peter Marriott, Teacher at St Bridget’s C of E Primary School, Wirral:

If a child has written something in their journal and you think, well, hang on a minute. That would be a very good explanation, but I know that they could go a bit further than that. Then the fact that they’ve written something in their journal, that journaling itself is telling me, “I think I could push them a bit further.”

So within the lesson I’ve assessed that child straight away, and I can do something about it there and then, which is great.

Whereas again, I know we’re going back a few years here, but this is going back at our school a few years. You gave the child their maths book to work in, here’s a load of questions, great for say, column method addiction.

But it’s just column method addition calculations on a page, that doesn’t tell you that they can use column method addition to solve a problem. Whereas if I posed a problem to them and they use column method edition independently, brilliant. I know that kid’s at the right place, whereas if they’re drawing out circles for it, or they’re putting dots, I’m like, “okay, I need to do a bit more jumping in, in the lesson to help just push those children on a little bit.”

What are the benefits of end-of-chapter reviews in Maths — No Problem! textbooks?

From Ryan Neal, Deputy Headteacher at St Bridget’s C of E Primary School, Wirral:

We use the Reviews at the end of each chapter, to do almost in test conditions, the idea being you do it independently, and you don’t have a chance to bounce the ideas off several people.

Just as a way hopefully to underline that yes, they’ve achieved the objectives and they understand what they’re doing. Or no, actually this child’s going to need a little bit more time. That informs my teaching and my planning and i’ll look at what’s coming up and if multiplication was an issue, but it’s coming up again in area and perimeter in a week or two’s time — I use that accordingly and maybe plan opportunities for those children to practice again. Or is it a case of no we need to put the brakes on and consolidate and look at this if it’s more of a class wide issue.

I think the kids as well, as we’ve done more work, we’ve moved towards a growth mindset, they see the point in it. It’s not just about a tick or not, it’s “okay, well, I’m good with this bit, this is where I need to work on, this what I need to do next time.”

So hopefully that’s the goal, we want them to be reflective learners and hopefully it’s helping them do that.

That’s sort of filtered into other lessons now, I’m finding in science lessons I might start with some sort of teaser or problem, and allow the children to pick it apart before starting to go through the learning objectives. I think of my assessment informally, and as I teach, that, it feels stronger. I feel more confident with the questions I ask and how I do it. So I’d say that’s been a really positive impact from it.