How We Used EdTech to Improve Maths at Criftins Primary

By Gino Rushton Assistant Head & Year 6 Teacher and Mandy Jones Executive Head Teacher, Criftins Church of England Primary in Shropshire.

At Criftins, we all want children to achieve, we need them to believe they can, and we celebrate every step along the way. Our aim is to build an excellent learning culture to help them along their journey.

We believe any EdTech implementation requires clarity of purpose and vision. We were particularly attracted to Whizz Education’s virtual tutor Maths-Whizz and the data that in 12 months, pupils undertaking 60 mins of work on the virtual tutor per week can make 18 months’ progress. These were big claims, but we have genuinely seen this kind of development and improvement for students who have put in the effort and followed the programme over the past six years. An hour per week of tailored home learning added to our programme of mathematics teaching in school and we really started to see a difference.

We have a school subscription which all pupils can access independently on any device. We have worked to ensure parents know about Maths-Whizz through letters, the school app and email and so time spent on the tutor has become a managed piece of homework.

Maths-Whizz is an individual tutor. It runs itself. This means, for teachers, there is no pressure to check or mark work. For parents juggling home schooling and remote working, it was an added benefit that they didn’t have any additional pressure to set or help with maths homework.

One of the benefits of Maths-Whizz is that is covers lots of topics. It keeps all areas fresh in students’ minds. It also challenges more able children and supports those with less ability.

To make it work well, our teachers do need to monitor how much time and how many progressions have been made on a weekly basis. Progressions mean children need to have answered a high number of questions correctly. Simple graphical data enables us to see progress on a weekly, monthly, or termly basis. Our main tips for others considering implementation would be to keep the novelty in the technology. There are interactive certificates built into system and stickers to send to remind pupils to ‘keep it up’ or ‘good job’. Teachers need to keep pupils motivated by using these. In normal term time, we have found if we limit Maths-Whizz to home usage, the novelty doesn’t wear off. Children are usually keen to do their homework because there is a fun side to the way Maths-Whizz is presented.

Teachers need to be consistent, and invest some time to monitor, track and support children. They need to set the task to spend time every week on the tutor, analyse onscreen usage and look at what’s been achieved and discuss this. The aim is to get three progressions per week which is directly linked to time spent on the system. It’s easy to monitor and pull the data quickly for review.

It’s also important to focus positively on what’s been done. Reporting back to parents helps engagement too. The beauty of Maths-Whizz is that it’s so specific to the needs of each child. They are not limited by what’s taught in class and essentially become masters of their own learning. If we consider the number of admin hours needed to produce this sort of individualised work and send it home, ensuring every child’s needs are met, it would be incredible. This system saves us time and ensures our students make better progress than with just class teaching alone.

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