Wray Common Primary School
What makes Wray Common an Accredited School?
Wray Common Primary started their maths mastery journey with MNP back in the 2014-15 academic year. After identifying gaps in their mathematics attainment, it became clear that a change was needed. Their search for a solution began with some exploratory Inset training that put them in contact with the MNP scheme. After that, CPD and conference attendance gave them a valuable window into how mastery would integrate into their practice, and what it could do for their pupils and teachers.
They have since embraced the MNP methodology with excitement and commitment, navigating difficulties and successes with equal measures of drive and resolve. And as you can see below, their results speak for themselves.
School at a glance:
- Larger than average primary school
- A founding member of the Greensand Multi Academy Trust
- The school has grown significantly in size in response to the need to increase local school places
- Over the last few years, supported local schools through school visits and Inset sharing
In their own words
Our Maths — No Problem! journey
After several years of hovering at or below national mathematics averages, in 2014-15 we reviewed our approach to Maths and identified particular areas of weakness within our school. These included inconsistent strategies across and amongst year groups, limited understanding and use of physical resources, and particular inefficiencies at accelerating the progress of our lower attainers.
After a series of Inset training surrounding the CPA approach, we trialled and then dedicated ourselves to implementing a mastery approach using Maths — No Problem! as our scaffold; we started September 2015 in all year groups.
We chose Maths — No Problem! because it challenges all children to be able to reach the ‘core’ learning in every lesson while encouraging children to be able to ‘Talk for Maths’ effectively. One of our methods for supporting our lower attaining children in this regard was to release every teacher for three afternoons a week to pre-teach targeted children. Consequently, 44% of our lower ability children made accelerated progress in 2015-16, 46% in 2016-17 and 41% in 2017-18.
Having used the MNP scheme for around a year and a half, our head teacher (Lloyd Murphy) and Emma Batchelor attended the 2017 MNP Annual Conference, which focused on differentiation for all. This was a thought-provoking and inspiring day for us both and led us to question whether we were using the scheme as effectively as we could.
Further research into the MNP approach was carried out and it was established that we were in fact using the textbooks and workbooks as more of a guide rather than a facilitator of learning. As a result, Emma Batchelor and four NQT’s attended a three-day Teaching for Mastery course run by Dr Yeap Ban Har in July 2017. The course itself allowed us to see just how ‘clever’ the scheme was and the connections that needed to be made within all parts of a single lesson as well as a series of lessons.
In response to this course, as a school, we set out to adjust our teaching approach to allow for a greater focus on teaching for mastery. It became a key School Development Priority in 2017-18 and 2018-19 with a large chunk of Inset and release time dedicated to allow for impactful change.
As part of the change in lesson structure, we focused on a more investigative start, with children spending time exploring the In Focus problems and finding multiple methods to solve low floor, high ceiling questions. Once children found these multiple methods, they could feed them back to the class under effective questioning from the teacher. Following this, children then practised the target method during Guided Practice with teachers highlighting the variation between questions before children would complete their independent learning.
Initially, this change in structure and approach resulted in a dip in the quality of teaching as evidenced by formal observations carried out in October 2017. This was primarily because teachers went out of their comfort zone to explore our new approach. However, with faith in the methodology, calm heads, clearly laid out Inset, and personalised support we were able to make accelerated progress.
Consequently, by the end of academic year 2017-18, KS2 data showed 83% of children meeting with 37% exceeding and KS1 data showed 87% of children meeting with 29% exceeding. Since starting with MNP, maths has continuously been our strongest subject.
Maths — No Problem! in our school
We are a founding member of the Greensand Multi Academy Trust. Within our Academy Trust, we have multiple year groups working alongside each other sharing the best practices of our maths curriculum. Over the last few years, we have supported a range of local schools through school visits and Inset sharing. This year, our Assistant Head, Andrew Carter, has been a School-to-School Support Leader with a local school supporting them in making changes to their Maths curriculum.
To recognise the importance of sharing good practice, we have been part of a local TRG (Teacher Research Group) led by a Maths Specialist Teacher where the focus has been exploring Maths Mastery and having that professional dialogue around best practices in Maths teaching. Consequently, our Maths Leader (Emma Batchelor), is now training to become Maths Specialist Teacher and is already running her own TRGs with local schools.
During the academic year, due to our passion and engagement with the Maths — No Problem! scheme, we have had many external school visits with many positive comments. In February 2018, as part of our Greensand Multi Academy Trust School Improvement, monitoring evidenced strong teaching and learning.
The benefit of this new approach for both children and teacher subject knowledge is undeniable. We have spent the past year embedding and refining our approach further based upon mistakes identified in previous years. As a further commitment to our belief in the scheme, in January 2019 we sent a further three teachers to another three day Teaching for Mastery course run by Yeap Dr Ban Har. Since then, those three teachers have carried out Inset training for all teachers; highlighting and sharing the key learning that resonated most with them.
Dr Ban Har’s phrase: “It’s better to solve one problem in five ways, than solve five problems one way” has truly encouraged both teachers and children within our school to become deeper learners which is something we wish to continue as we further embed and refine our Maths — No Problem! approach.
Our own personal Maths — No Problem! journey has not always been smooth sailing. Over the years, we have had to constantly tweak and refine our approach as we learn more about the scheme and how best to apply it to our own school. We believe that this journey is an important one to share and that introducing a scheme like MNP into a school, there will always be ups and downs. Having identified this, we would love to support other schools as they begin or continue their own personal journey.