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Three tips to enhance maths in your school

Alexandra Riley is author of the Power of Maths report and Senior Publisher in the Primary Maths team at Pearson. She leads the team behind Power Maths, a whole-class mastery programme developed in partnership with White Rose Maths. Here, she highlights how schools can not only boost results but improve perceptions about how maths is used in everyday life… 

Maths can unlock doors by giving children and young people the tools needed to access new learning or pursue a career that increases their future earning power. And yet, only 36% of males and 23% of females at Key Stage Four feel that mathematics is most likely to lead to a job in the future [1]. Meanwhile, myths about mathematics continue to perpetuate, from the belief that some people just can’t do maths to the perception that this isn’t a creative subject.

Following the release of Pearson’s Power of Maths report, shaped by leading thinkers across education and business, here are some ways you can improve both the perceptions and teaching of mathematics in your school:

1. Bust myths

Maths is relevant and important in our lives beyond the school gates.

In your school, talk openly about the utility and creativity of maths. Maths is not about getting “the right answer”. Instead, show pupils that debate, discovery and creativity are an integral part of maths, rather than characteristics confined to humanities, and this makes maths fascinating and exciting.

You can do this in practice, by regularly integrating problems with more than one solution into maths lessons, and debating the strategies used and solutions. Pupils will become engaged in their learning by thinking creatively and participating in child using maths blocks on a stringrich mathematical discussion. 

2. Build resilience

If an adult is under-confident in maths, they can unknowingly pass on their anxieties to children and young people, leading to many arriving in their lessons ready to hate it.

Building mathematical confidence among parents can be key to tackling maths anxiety in your school. At a primary level, teachers can give parents simple suggestions for engaging their child in learning at home, whether it is working on a puzzle book at bedtime, creating a maths picture storybook or talking about shape while they play together.

You can run workshops to communicate this or draw on Pearson’s Handy Parent Factsheet, which explains the importance of a growth mindset and how parents can encourage their children to be confident mathematicians.

3. Never underestimate the power of professional development

Teachers are one of the biggest influencers on our young people yet many maths teachers are not subject specialists (particularly at primary) and feel under-confident in teaching the subject.

High-quality resources, such as textbooks and teacher guides, can help teachers to consistently implement what they have learnt in the classroom.

You can also encourage teachers to observe, or even film, lessons and reflect on them with a colleague or as a team. This gives an opportunity to reflect on best practice, build subject knowledge and share new ideas.

The future of mathematics is ultimately one where people from diverse backgrounds and interests come together to collaborate and drive change. By harnessing a passion for mathematics in schools and classrooms, we can all inspire young people with its power one step at a time.

To read the Power of Maths report and its recommendations, please visit: pearsonprimary.co.uk


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