By Jo Kerkham, Head of School and Snowy Owls Class Teacher
Brisley Church of England Primary Academy, part of the Diocese of Norwich Education and Academies Trust (DNEAT) is based in mid Norfolk.
We have three classes: Reception/Year 1 and Year 2 (Tawny Owls), Year 3 and Year 4 (Snowy Owls) and Year 5 and Year 6 (Barn Owls).
Pupils’ learning is based around exciting topics and each class follows a two-year program, which ensures the requirements of the National Curriculum are taught, as well as a broad balance of enrichment.
I have worked with Whizz Education and the virtual tutor Maths-Whizz at a previous school, and I was keen to bring it to Brisley, as it performs well to get children to practice areas of the curriculum not currently being taught so different maths topics remain fresh in their minds.
It keeps skills simmering and knowledge up-todate across the board. It’s also a great assessment tool as progress and knowledge gaps are easy to identify. This feedback helps teachers understand which areas to focus on to develop further learning.
Maths-Whizz also pitches learning at the right level. It tests understanding and gets children to practice maths topics where they need extra support. We also have lots of motivated children at Brisley and they can really get ahead if they put in the time.
In my class, I often use Maths-Whizz as a preteach tool. So, for example, if we are due to work on fractions, I can set the Topic Access Functionality to cover fractions the week before. This makes progress in lessons much more rapid.
Children have access to Maths-Whizz at home through our school subscription. We encourage pupils to make three progressions per week. A progression is one successfully completed lesson. For parents during lockdown, Maths-Whizz has offered current curriculum teaching for children to access independently. It has been one less thing for them to worry about during the restrictions.
Overall, attainment is related to the amount of time spent on the system. We get the best uptake where teachers encourage engagement. For example, we’ve introduced a leader board to help motivate our students. We highlight the pupil who’s achieved the most progressions each week for each year group, and also identify who’s the highest achiever in the school. Our pupils are competitive, so putting the leader board in the corridor and awarding certificates every week is really motivating. One of our year three girls has worked consistently hard at Maths-Whizz and has now become one of the top students in her year in maths. This is all due to her own efforts.
We recently surveyed the children to find out what they liked and didn’t like about the MathsWhizz tutor. Around one third loved everything about it, a third got on well with it and third found it challenging. This does really reflect how the system works; children must put in effort, and it ensures they practice on areas which they find more difficult. We address the need to put in effort by teaching resilience in everything we do at school. It’s one of our core values. For example, we have a policy of ‘challenge by choice’ where we encourage children to pick up the right level of challenge for themselves, whatever task they are doing. This shouldn’t be too difficult or too easy but just right. MathsWhizz does this automatically finding the right learning level for students and so fits very well with our ethos.
Overall, children make progress using MathsWhizz where they put in the time. Therefore, encouraging effort and resilience for the slightly more challenging tasks is key. Our children have achieved this with the support of all our staff and parents and as a result, we are proud of the progress our students have made in maths, in one of the most challenging years ever experienced.
For further information please see: www.whizz.com/schools