How to network your way to great primary Maths interventions
What you can learn from networking events with local primary schools about innovative KS2 interventions that will work with your pupils' and why to attend a Primary Maths Showcase.
When your school budget is being squeezed, it can be tempting to retrench, cut back and try to do the best with what you’ve got.
However an alternative approach, and one that many schools are opting for, is to take a look outside your own environment and see if there are any innovative ideas others have tried that might help you do more with less.
So how do you go about finding these innovative ideas?
As someone who’s in a different primary school almost every week, helping to support our Third Space Learning Ambassadors to get even more out of their relationship with us, I would say the answer’s simple: just ensure as senior leaders you talk to other local schools and see what they’re doing.
Schools in your neighbourhood may well have similar issues to your own school and teachers there are likely to have tried out teaching techniques or innovative interventions which you haven’t come across but which could also benefit your pupils.
That said, I know it isn’t always easy to make the connection with local schools. Last year I met staff at a school in Staffordshire who could actually see their neighbouring primary school from their school window, yet had still never collaborated to share their most effective teaching practice or ideas!
Use networking events to find new interventions
So if you’re not already well connected, and are on the lookout for new ideas, or new interventions for pupils, I’d recommend the first thing you do is attend some networking events.
The most common of these are TeachMeets.
I had heard about TeachMeets when I started teaching, but I have to admit I’d never actually attended one. Now, several years into my teaching career, I have attended several and even spoken at a few and I can safely say they’re a fantastic way to pick up classroom ideas, tips to enhance your teaching, and even strategies to address more whole-school issues. If you want to know more about such events and why you should attend them read my blog: To Teachmeet or Not to Teachmeet.
Roadtest an intervention before you put it into practice
While networking per se, and networking events can be good ways to discover new intervention strategies, they are not perfect. For example, often the journey towards actually being confident enough to implement that intervention yourself can take some time. You attend the event, you hear about an intervention from another teacher, you perhaps discuss it with them then or later on by email, you source the intervention, and then finally you get to try it for yourself.
That’s why, to support schools wanting to share their innovative ideas in Maths teaching and learning we’ve created a slightly different form of networking events: Primary Maths Intervention Showcase Events hosted by Third Space Learning Ambassador Schools. At these events, you can short-circuit the journey towards trying an intervention by experiencing it firsthand for yourself, and talking to the participants about their reactions all in the same morning or afternoon!
Primary Maths intervention showcases
Last year over 100 primary schools using Third Space Learning’s 1-to-1 tuition opened their doors to other local schools at Maths Intervention Showcases. They shared best practice for supporting their pupils in Maths and heard how other schools have been tackling issues such as supporting pupil premium and EAL pupils with limited funding.
Around 400 teachers and school leaders have now attended these networking events in schools across the UK, from Cumbria via Bethnal Green to Kent. And throughout the summer term, we will be hosting even more.
How 1-to-1 Maths tuition can be affordable
School leaders often tell me that they believe in the benefits of 1-to-1 Maths tuition and would like to implement it in their school, but it has been too expensive and too hard to organise.
At the showcase events, Ambassador schools that work with Third Space Learning are able to show teachers and leaders like you that this doesn’t have to be the case.
They invite SLT and Maths Leads to visit their school, watch a live 1-to-1 Third Space Learning session in action and talk to the host school about their experience with this kind of intervention.
What do you learn at a Maths Intervention Showcase?
The showcases are a perfect opportunity for SLT and Headteachers to get a better understanding of how to run cost-effective, specialised Maths interventions. This includes:
Should you consider attending a showcase?
In the autumn term, Third Space Learning Ambassador schools held nearly 30 Primary Maths Showcases and 94% of attendees rated their experience as 8 or more out of 10.
They told us that being able to physically watch a Third Space 1-to-1 intervention session in action was the most enjoyable and informative part of the experience but they also particularly appreciated being able to speak to pupils and teachers first hand about how a relatively new and innovative intervention works in their school currently. And unsurprisingly they liked the networking aspect including hearing about what types of Maths interventions are working, and not working, in local schools.
Feedback on the Maths Intervention Events
Here’s some of the feedback from school leaders who attended in 2016:
“The Showcase was great and informative - I now know how the programme will work within our own school.”
“I could see how the tutor has really adapted the lesson to the pupil’s specific needs. It was really useful to see a child make an error and then how the tutor changed the way of teaching.”
“I’d never heard about Third Space Learning before, so it was nice to see something new!”
This is what Third Space Ambassadors who hosted the event in their school said:
“It’s great meeting professionals from other schools who are interested in running Third Space Learning in their school and discussing with them the impact it has had on our children's learning. Our pupils really enjoy being able to share their session with the visitors and show them what they have been doing.”
Claire Peats, Assistant Headteacher, Tinsley Meadows Academy, Sheffield
“We like the chance to show other schools how learning can be personalised and 1-to-1.”
Anna Trigg, Deputy Headteacher, Brookvale Primary School, Birmingham
How can you attend a Maths Intervention Showcase?
If this sounds like something you or another member of the SLT in your school would benefit from investigating, take a look at the regional list of showcases and dates in the summer term.
Third Space Learning Ambassador schools are holding Showcases all around the UK in the summer term after SATs. Come along, meet teachers and leaders from other schools in your area, and find out how you can implement a high quality, specialist intervention that is already working to improve pupils' progress and confidence in Maths in a school similar to yours.