MTPT Project Accreditation

This blog was first published on the MTPT Project website in November 2017.

Leanne Shaw (@LeanneShawAHS), Maths teacher, mother to first baby, Oscar and our York Advocate, explains how she used her maternity leave to improve her subject knowledge, structuring her CPD through our very own, flexible MTPT Project Accreditation.

As I am rapidly approaching my return to work date, I have decided to write a summary of the CPD that I have completed on maternity leave, and hope that this will be especially useful for any mathematics teachers on maternity or paternity leave. I have also spoken about my MTPT accreditation and how I intend my CPD to support my return to the classroom.

When my baby was 6 weeks old, I was approached by TeachWire asking me to write a blog for them on an aspect of Mathematics teaching; I gladly accepted, but warned them it would take a while to write with such a young baby! A few months later, it was written. I decided to focus on the issues with KS3 transition, and how often our Year 7s’ knowledge is underestimated by secondary teachers. I enjoyed writing the blog, and researching more into it led me to other interesting areas of research that I was able to follow.

I found the Mr Barton Maths podcasts invaluable in terms of following educational research. They are very well researched and planned, and the guests that he has are very knowledgeable in their fields, and have a lot of very good points to add. I am always questioning my practice after listening to each one, and come away with lots of more informed approaches to the best ways to teaching Mathematics. They are a large

time investment, but this does show how much detail they go into, and were great in the early days when my baby would only sleep on me (and, amazingly, they are completely free!). Craig Barton has a book (to be published In January) summarising what he has learnt whilst recording his podcasts, so reading that is another option to access the research.

One area of teaching that I felt less experienced in was A Level teaching, in particular Mechanics. I was also aware that there was a new A Level which was started being taught from September 2017. I enjoyed reading Jo Morgan’s regular Resourceaholic blogs and found these to be an excellent source of information about the changes at KS5. These were very concise and well researched, and quick to read. In terms of developing my pedagogical and subject knowledge at KS5, I cannot praise and recommend MEI and the FMSP enough. I had already enjoyed completing the MEI Teaching Advanced Maths in my RQT year, and during my maternity leave I decided to sign up for the FMSP Teaching Mechanics 1 course. This course seemed ideal for me to complete on maternity leave – it takes place on two study days, either on Fridays or Saturdays (I chose Saturdays so that my husband could look after our son), and across 10 live online videos which start at 7pm, but are recorded to be watched later for those nights when bedtime doesn’t quite go to plan! They provide a huge range of resources. After each online video is a consolidation exercise to complete, and there is an online forum where course tutors and other course participants can answer any questions that may arise when completing them; I found this incredibly helpful as it allowed me to ask very specific questions and get helpful replies which helped to boost my subject knowledge.

I also spent a small amount of time updating my website, Maths Problem Solving, adding some more resources and fixing broken links, as well as directing people to it on social media.

A few months into my maternity leave, I decided to sign up for The MTPT Project Accreditation, which certifies the CPD that is completed on maternity leave so that your work can be demonstrated to your employer, as well as providing coaching to help you to direct your CPD.  I found the coaching sessions with Emma really beneficial, and it was very helpful to be able to bounce ideas between each other of how I could continue, and use, my CPD. For example, after one of our coaching sessions, I contacted some local schools to visit and observe some of their best practice, focussing on the new A Level teaching and high ability GCSE, which I hadn’t observed much of before. When I was working full-time it was hard to find time to observe other teachers, and I am lucky enough to work in a stable department, so I found it interesting seeing different teaching styles and hope to find more time to do this in the future.

Over the year I’ve put together a list of teaching tips, research findings and resources which I know will be used daily over the next year, and I found writing my Accreditation Reflection helpful in linking all my areas of CPD together over the year. I feel confident that this will enable me to return to the workplace more confident and informed, and I look forward to updating The MTPT project with how my return to work goes.

Improve Your KS3 Maths Teaching By Developing An Understanding Of The Primary-Secondary Transition

This blog can be found on TeachWire here.

There’s plenty of overlap between Year 6 and 7 maths, so if you don’t know what topics your students have already covered you might be wasting valuable class time.

The main focus for maths teachers in recent years has undoubtedly been the new GCSEs. My hope is that now these have been completed I can provide some thought on how to improve KS3 teaching by reducing the issues with transition from primary school.

I feel that I am quite well-informed with maths teaching, through reading blogs, actively using Twitter and listening to regular podcasts, but despite this, one thing that I never knew much about was the KS2 curriculum.

Many secondary schools use the Year 6 SATs purely for setting purposes – given that schools don’t yet know these new pupils well enough, this is often the easiest approach.

But beyond schools using SATs results to inform themselves of their incoming pupils’ abilities, little consideration is given to the actual content they will have covered in KS2. Often schemes of work are based purely on the KS3 curriculum, splitting all the statements up into topics and spreading them over the two- or three-year KS3 course.

Obviously the KS3 curriculum is based on the KS2 curriculum, but there is a huge amount of overlap of content. And since the details of this overlap is not widely known by secondary teachers, we risk spending equal time on topics which are essentially “revision” to Year 7 pupils (such as percentages of amounts) and topics not on the primary curriculum (such as probability and most aspects of statistics).

A big worry for me currently is that when we spend a large proportion of Year 7 repeating content, pupils find that they can focus less in the lessons and still successfully complete the work, potentially causing them to lose engagement and enthusiasm, and possibly becoming overconfident, which can lead to problems later when they need to focus more to understand new topics.

At the same time, I know that I, and many other maths teachers, complain about pupils having forgotten “basic” skills such as times table recall and naming shapes, and this is often seen as a reason to continue covering topics in which they were previously confident. Nevertheless, I think that this could be avoided somewhat if we were to build rapid recall of quick facts and methods into our KS3 lessons.

Having spoken to primary teachers, they often spend around 10 minutes each lesson for pupils to recall times tables and other key skills with good results – I think that this is something worth trialling in secondary schools to see if it improves retention. It is important to remember that having the ability to recall key information is not often a focus in early secondary education in the same way that it is at primary school, resulting in pupils losing this essential skill.

I believe that there is a wealth of good teaching ideas that secondary teachers can learn from their primary counterparts (and vice versa). When discussing this with primary teachers, it was clear that the lesson time, usually 45-60 mins per day, was clearly thought out in order to make it as effective and efficient as possible, and to maximise the impact of teacher (and teaching assistant) time in a mixed-ability class.

Lessons often include a 10-minute recall activity, again based on key skills or topics covered within the last two weeks. They managed mixed-ability classes well, splitting the class into attainment groups (in most, but not all, lessons) and allowing these groups to have a carousel of teacher, teaching assistant and independent work time so that all pupils are given more targeted teacher support and all abilities can be challenged at the same time.

I think that it would be hugely beneficial for staff to visit some of their feeder primaries (or perhaps allow their primary liaison/transition workers to provide departmental training on what they have seen) and find out what the Year 6 pupils are being taught and how teachers are covering it.

After researching and writing this blog, it has made me aware of the vast amount of the KS3 curriculum that our pupils have already covered at primary school, and I encourage you to read through the Year 6 pages of the primary curriculum to help with your Year 7 planning.

I will certainly be introducing more recall-based activities into my KS3 lessons which I believe will allow the pupils to make progress more rapidly since they will not need reminding of the basic key facts that they should already know.