Maths training for staff

On Wednesday 24th January, teachers gathered to participate in a training session with a Maths Hub leader from the Yorkshire hub, called White Rose. We opened up the session to the Sevenoaks partnership and were pleased to be joined by many of our local colleagues from nearby schools.

Jess Easton facilitated the 4 hour workshop covering ‘bar modelling’ – an approach to support children in problem solving. We looked at how this can be used from Reception right up to Year 6 and beyond. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive and teachers left feeling inspired and keen to try out the new ideas.

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:Look how quickly our staff put this training into action!


This is what the NCETM (National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics) says:

The bar model is used in Singapore and other countries, such as Japan and the USA, to support children in problem solving. It is not a method for solving problems, but a way of revealing the mathematical structure within a problem and gaining insight and clarity as to how to solve it. It supports the transformation of real life problems into a mathematical form and can bridge the gap between concrete mathematical experiences and abstract representations. It should be preceded by and used in conjunction with a variety of representations, both concrete and pictorial, all of which contribute to children’s developing number sense. It can be used to represent problems involving the four operations, ratio and proportion. It is also useful for representing unknowns in a problem and as such can be a pre-cursor to more symbolic algebra.



Maths Learning Journeys

In maths, across the school, we have started to think about how we use displays to support children’s understanding of maths concepts. In a recent maths leadership meeting, I was introduced to the idea of ‘The Learning Journey.’ After talking it through with the staff, we decided to take this on board in our own classes. Below are some of the learning journeys across the school.

Can you spot the one in your child’s class?

The idea is that, the main learning objectives and concepts in each maths unit are written up on the board and they form small steps towards the bigger concept. Then the important visual models we use to support and scaffold the children’s learning are immediately put up onto the board alongside our teaching, as a way for the children to reference back their learning. They can look up at the board at any point in class and the ideas on it will prompt their memory if they have forgotten what to do. We use a vehicle such as a car, plane, camper van, etc, to follow the route of the learning journey. We move the vehicle on when we have accomplished each small step on our way to securing the bigger concepts.  It is working really well.

Planes and Pizza!!

What a fantastic term in year 1 – full of investigation and discovery. Our topic about flight proved to be immense fun as we explored the best material to make a helicopter, based on the principal of how a sycamore seed flies. We were surprised to find that paper flew and spun the best with craft foam a close second. The children also came in enthused after their homework challenge to make  a parachute for a toy, asking ‘what flying thing are we making next?’

1755 1749

We continued with our investigations by designing, making and improving paper kites. Luckily we were blessed with a windy afternoon to carry out our testing, and retesting once we had strengthened our kites with drinking straws. The kites looked really professional and the children were keen to take them home rather than have them displayed in the classroom.

1757 1770 1787

Paper planes were our next challenge! Many of the boys professed to be experts already, however they keenly followed the video instructions to make a dart plane. With our planes decorated and named (Some with hugely creative names like ‘Blaze’ and ‘Sapphire’) we once again went outside to see what our creations would do. After a few trial runs, our planes were flying brilliantly, especially after adding blue tac to balance them.

1834 1837

The children were thrilled to arrive one morning to find a Pizza Shop in the conservatory! Our maths about wholes, halves, quarters, money, and counting in twos, fives and tens was fun and practical, as well as helping our communication skills and manners!

1844 1841 1842 1833 1800 1791

The children are now wondering what might appear in the conservatory next…

The Maths Research Group comes to St. John’s

On Wednesday, we welcome our partners in research to St. John’s for a morning of maths mastery. It is our turn to host the maths group and explore the principles of mastery. I will be teaching a maths lesson on ratio to Class 6 while 14 teachers observe me – quite scary! After the lesson, we talk about the learning sequence and opportunities for the pupils to gain mastery of the concept taught.

Watch this space! I will tell you all about it after our research day – if I survive…


Jane Gillhouley

Shanghai-England Maths Project

On 12th January, Bev Casewell and I went to Blean Primary School to observe the visiting Shanghai teachers teaching maths to British school children. We saw a Year 3 multiplication lesson and a Year 4 fractions lesson. It was fascinating for us to see their teaching methods and the structure of the lesson.

Mrs Casewell has already tried out the lesson in Year 4C and this week will be repeating the lesson in Year 4P while I will be teaching the multiplication lesson to Year 3. We were very lucky to have been invited along and it has given us much food for thought.

Well done mathematicians!

This week seventeen Year 5 and 6 children took on the Primary Maths Challenge. It was a 45 minute test which was extremely challenging! The children did a really good job – it was lovely to see such keen mathematicians.


Well done!

6 Ways to Support your Child’s Mathematical Development

Here is another article from Jo Boaler


Stanford Professor of Mathematics Education, Online Course Experimenter, Co-Founder of Youcubed, author of the new book: Mathematical Mindsets.

6 Ways to Support your Child’s Mathematical Development

Available in English in Spanish!

How can you help your own child with maths? Giving them a positive view of themselves, and their potential? How can you help them with homework in productive ways, and give them the sort of praise that will help them grow and learn in the future? Here are 6 ideas for parents/guardians to try, and links to many more resources.

I hope you find them helpful. Viva La Revolution! Jo

Download English Version

Download Spanish Version

Here is an article from Jo Boaler who is a Stanford Professor of Mathematics Education, Online Course Experimenter, Co-Founder of ‘youcubed’, author of the new book: Mathematical Mindsets.



We now know that the messages we give students can change their performance dramatically, and that students need to know that the adults in their lives believe in them.  Researchers are learning that students’ ideas about their ability and potential are extremely important, much more than previously understood.  As well as the messages we give students about their potential, brain research is now showing that messages students pick up from their parents about math and their parents’ relationships with math can also change students’ math learning and achievement.

parent photo

In an important study researchers found that when mothers told their daughters they were not good at math in school, their daughter’s achievement declined almost immediately (Eccles & Jacobs, 1986). In a new study neuroscientists Erin Maloney and colleagues found that parents’ math anxiety reduced their children’s learning of math across grades 1 and 2, but only if parents helped their children on math homework (Maloney, Ramirez, Gunderson, Levine, & Beilock, 2015) If they did not help them on homework, the parents’ math anxiety did not detract from their children’s learning.

The parents’ math knowledge did not turn out to have any impact, only their level of math anxiety.

Both studies, again, communicate the importance of the messages students receive, as it was not math knowledge that harmed the students’ performance but the parents’ anxiety. We do not know what parents with math anxiety say to their children but it is likely they communicate the negative messages we know to be harmful, such as “math is hard” or “I was never good at math in school.” It is critical that when parents interact with children about math they communicate positive messages, saying that math is exciting and it is an open subject that anyone can learn with hard work, that it is not about being “smart” or not and that math is all around us in the world. For more parental advice on ways to help students with math see the parent page.

Teachers also need to give positive messages to students at all times. Many elementary teachers feel anxious about mathematics, usually because they themselves have been given fixed and stereotyped messages about the subject and their potential. When I taught in my online teacher/parent class that mathematics is a multidimensional subject that everyone can learn, many of the elementary teachers who took it described it as life-changing and approached mathematics differently afterward. Around 85% of elementary teachers in the United States are women, and Beilock, Gunderson, Ramirez, & Levine (2009) found something very interesting and important. The researchers found that the levels of anxiety held by women elementary teachers also predicted the achievement of the girls in their classes, but not the boys (Beilock et al., 2009). Girls look up to their female teachers and identify with them at the same time as teachers are often and sadly conveying the idea that math is hard for them or they are just not a “math person.” Many teachers try to be comforting and sympathetic about math, telling girls not to worry, that they can do well in other subjects. We now know such messages are extremely damaging.

Teachers and parents need to replace sympathetic messages such as “Don’t worry, math isn’t your thing” with positive messages such as “You can do this, I believe in you, math is an open, beautiful subject that is all about effort and hard work.”

If you are interested in reading more why not try the youcubed website under the parents tab. See below,

Games to support maths – Have fun St. John’s!

Try this recruits!

Addition and subtraction but with a difference (Year 4-6)

Liked it? Want more like that? Try

Year 1-3 why not try this….

More like this…


Have Fun!