At the start of the school year: part 2

|4 min read

This post is part of our ‘At the start of the school year’ series. The start of the new school year is just around the corner, so we asked our community of authors, trainers, and teachers to share their experiences.

“At the start of the school year, I read”

How do I get ready at the start of a new year? I read. I go through old posts, saved articles, and notes from conferences I have been to in the past. I have a good clear out of my ‘to-do reading list’ and flick through to get new ideas — ideas which at one point I thought I’d use but never got around to implementing. I look through my planning and actively fit them in so that I make sure to try something new. I figure if I saved it, I must have thought it would be useful.

I get excited about things to share with other teachers and look forward to catching up on what they have been reading. More and more, it’s Instagram or Facebook posts with some Pinterest thrown in, but I also hear about good old fashioned books. Then I read up on my new pupils to decide who would benefit from these strategies and ideas.

Finally, I just get excited! With a few butterflies in my stomach, I lay out my clothes for my first day and go to bed knowing that I won’t sleep because I am as excited to start the year as the children.

Helena (Ayales) Bryant, Assistant Head at St Peter and Paul Catholic Primary School, Merton.

“At the start of the school year, I sort out the resources in my classroom, reflect on practice, and organise CPD”

The first thing I do in September is organise my primary classroom resources, and get rid of the resources that I didn’t use last year. Over the years, I have become more minimal in my approach to how my classroom looks and feels. If the children don’t use it, why is it there? Having an uncluttered classroom helps to create an environment where children can focus on the task at hand.

I also think it’s a good idea to reflect on your teaching practice. Over the busy school year, it’s easy to forget to step back and search for new ways to improve delivery. Staying open-minded to new approaches is key to progressing as a practitioner. Being maths lead (and using MNP) means it’s vital that I keep strong links with schools who deliver the programme successfully. Talking to others about the intricacies of how to implement MNP means that we are continually reflecting and improving.

I then organise at least one CPD opportunity. September comes around quickly, and before we know it, we are in the throes of everything a new term brings. I make it a priority to book a set of relevant training for staff. This year, it will be for our teaching support staff. They will be undergoing training on how to use questions effectively in lessons.

Tom Silver, Mathematics Lead and Assistant Headteacher at SS John Fisher and Thomas More, Wythenshawe.

“At the start of the school year, I plan open lessons and coordinate CPD”

At the beginning of the autumn term, I plan a series of open lessons and invite all new teachers to attend. During the pre and post-lesson discussions, I make sure to cover:

  • The key elements of lesson structure
  • How the CPA approach works
  • How to use journals
  • How to challenge all children through carefully designed questions throughout every lesson

I’ve produced a small booklet that outlines the lesson structure. I give copies to all new teachers, students, and supply teachers in case they need a handy reminder. Later in the year, some lesson studies take place as part of an organised program of CPD.

Over the summer break, I analyse the summer SATs questions and use them to prepare for the sessions we hold on the first day of the autumn term. I make sure all teachers are aware of the SATs questions, as it lets them see how the mastery approach supports our students in completing them. In doing this, our teachers quickly realise how the key concepts involved in these questions are usually not introduced in Year 6, but throughout the primary years, often in the lower year groups.

All teachers must understand their role in developing enthusiastic mathematicians — it’s not just Year 6 teachers who take on that responsibility.

Helen Hackett, Head of Maths at Parkfield Community School in Birmingham and Mastery Lead for the Central Region Maths Hubs.