Diamond Hall Junior Academy

Sunderland, UK

What makes Diamond Hall an Accredited School?

Diamond Hall Academy chose to implement the Maths — No Problem! approach in September 2018 so that they would have a common approach to teaching maths across all of their affiliated schools. The staff have welcomed the implementation process, and the impact on the pupils was felt from the very beginning. The school has taken big strides in supporting their struggling learners more efficiently and the children have begun to enjoy talking about maths, collaborating, and the learning process in general.

Though their road to maths mastery has only just begun, they’ve already started seeing the rewards of a new approach to mathematics in which every child, and every teacher, can succeed.

Diamond Hall School Logo

School at a glance:

  • Large junior school of 320~ pupils
  • Proportion of pupils eligible for the pupil premium is well above national average
  • The school is a member of the North East Learning Trust. It became an academy in October 2017
  • Judged by Ofsted as “Good” in 2014

In their own words

Our Maths — No Problem! journey

We are a large junior school in a deprived area of Sunderland, which is three-form entry and has 320 pupils currently enrolled. We were judged as good by Ofsted in November 2014 and the maths teaching within the school was then highlighted as a strength. We are also part of a multi-academy trust (North East Learning Trust) and have been since October 2017.

As a group of three primary schools, we chose to implement Maths — No Problem! so that we would have a common approach to teaching maths across the trust. To that end, one of our first orders of business was training in the approach, which started with a two-day course spread over four twilight CPD sessions.

We have implemented the programme across our school (Years 3-6) and although we have faced some challenges — due to the fact that our Infant School does not use the programme — it has been very successful. We have also developed smaller groups for some of our SEND pupils using the Year 1 and 2 books, despite being a junior school. We have seen many of these pupils become able to either join back with their whole class or successfully move into a group higher than the one they were in. We have also been running immediate intervention and pre-teaching groups during afternoons, which have supported children so they can better access their year group’s objectives. Children are no longer falling behind, and they have a more complete readiness for each lesson.

All staff from the school have now attended the two-day training programme (delivered over four twilight sessions). The staff were able to use the support and advice from these sessions to augment their teaching practice.

The maths lead also attended an open day at Selby Primary School in June 2018 alongside colleagues from the trust. This allowed the school to see mastery in practice. As a trust, the maths leads meet once per term to discuss good practice and offer advice to each other.

We have regular CPD for our maths which has so far focussed on the use of concrete apparatus; challenges for those children working at greater depth; the use of working walls; the importance of stem sentences; how to support under-confident girls; and lesson planning. We’ve also looked at how to develop further opportunities for problem solving and reasoning. We are using what we’ve learned implement extension tasks: descriptive, investigative, creative, and evaluative. We renamed these our DICE tasks.

Maths — No Problem! in our school

As a school, we have been pleased with the impact that Maths — No Problem! has had on our staff and pupils. Since starting the program in September 2018, the staff have welcomed implementation as it has broken down very broad objectives into the small steps needed to ensure pupil progression. It has enabled the staff to develop how they teach these small steps in different ways, especially for the more difficult mathematical areas such as fractions.

Because the mathematical topics are broken down into small steps, the staff have found that it has enabled them to support struggling learners much more efficiently. They have really enjoyed the structure of the individual lessons and have been able to see the benefit of having this structure. They have also benefited from the use of the Mathsteasers books, which has demonstrated the challenge needed for our more able learners.

The children also love the approach to teaching and are excited by mathematics. They particularly enjoy the ‘in focus’ tasks and being given the chance to explore their own approaches to problems, as well as listening to others.

Our children enjoy mathematical talk and the Maths — No Problem! approach really allows them to do this. They enjoy looking at the different approaches in the textbooks, and they feel they have more freedom to choose the approach that suits them best. Every learner has been able to find a method that they understand. They take great pride in their workbooks and enjoy the way the pages get more difficult — they’re excited to get onto the ‘mind workouts’ however difficult they may be. Our struggling learners benefit from the visual models used within the Maths — No Problem! approach while our advanced learners have benefitted from seeing different approaches, rather than relying on only one way to solve a problem.

We have already started sharing our practice with the other schools within the trust, with some teachers observing lessons within our school. We have also shared this practice with some students from the trust’s SCITT (four in total). One student came just to look at the way we teach maths.

We’re proud of the progress we’ve shown in such a short time frame. We’re looking forward to continuing the further development of our approach to mathematics. Our journey may be at an early stage, but we know we’re headed down a wonderful path for both our pupils and teachers.

School contact details

Contact name:
Shelley Wilson — Deputy Headteacher

Diamond Hall Junior Academy
Well Street
Millfield, Sunderland

Phone number:
0191 563 0975

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Twitter: @diamondjuniors