Creative Maths presentation at Sheffield Hallam University.

I started my MAST course at Sheffield Hallam University as part of the 1st Cohort – but have taken a break from it, due to circumstances at school – but will resume next year. I know how much dedication it takes for teachers to complete courses like this, when also teaching full time.

Corine Angier has asked me to do this session, following on from a session at the STEM Primary Maths Conference – at the time when she asked I was just so chuffed that I agreed immediately. Now as the reality looms, and the sleepless, anxiety ridden nights hit – I begin to panic as I think over the main messages I would like to get across.

in 2009 Nintendo employed the services of Wakefield Research and had a survey conducted.  Some of their key finding included:

  • More than 1/3 of kids surveyed say math is their most difficult subject
  • Nearly 1/3 of the kids view math in a negative light; 18% called it “boring,” while 13% called it “torture”
  • 86% of parents surveyed say math is important to their careers, even though they thought they’d never need math back in school.

In 2008 an article in The Guardian commented –

Maths is generally not considered fun. At school, maths is unloved, and the prejudice against it continues throughout adulthood. Whereas to hate literature is to be deemed uncultured, it is cool to hate maths and fine to throw one’s hands in the air when asked to do a simple sum.

(link to an interesting article on Maths & Creativity on Nrich.)

Around the same time I interviews pupils leaving Hovingham about their feelings toward Maths and what made the difference – why some of their peers were good at Maths, while others weren’t.

‘Some just aren’t bothered’ – was the reply which really changed the way I led Maths. previously I had done similar pupil interviews and pupils had commented about boring lessons, too many worksheets – and so we had worked on making lessons engaging and practical – now the children agreed the lessons were better – but still a significant number of their peer ‘ weren’t bothered!’

I continued to talk with the pupils and asked them if they knew that it was now very hard to get a job with out a Maths GCSE & that it was very hard to achieve a Maths GCSE if you hadn’t achieved a L4 at Primary school. They were so shocked when I mentioned that ‘even to get a job at Mc Donalds – you need to have a Maths GCSE’ – that they suggested I started the next academic year with a special assembly to make sure that everyone knew they better try hard in Maths….

I hasten to say, I didn’t do the assembly – but did focus on moving us ( teachers, parents and pupils) from this ‘not bothered’ attitude – to a ‘lovin’ it’ attitude.

This year we were lucky enough to have a visit from Scott Flansburg – in the Guiness Book of Records as the Human Calculator. He came to Hovingham for one of our regular Mathletics Gold Assemblies – and during this he asked ‘Who likes Maths?’ Every hand went up – children & staff…… He told me that he asked the same question in most schools he visits – and only once before had he seen such a positive response and that was in  New Zealand school. At the High School he had visited in the morning – 2 pupils had put their hands up!


In sharing some of the key actions I took at Hovingham I will follow these links –

Mathletics at Hovingham

Making Maths Fun – Family Maths.

and the VAK up your Maths Page on this blog.

PS – Yesterday I did a Circle Time with a Year 6 class and asked them what had helped them to achieve the best Maths KS2 SATs Hovingham has ever had ….

  • Mathletics – they talked about this over & over again – it gave them confidence, it makes them feel proud of what they can do, it encourages them to challenge themselves. Live Mathletics speeds up their mental maths, and the ‘Help’ button is like having a teacher watching that you are ok. Their suggestion to other  pupils – get a weekly certificate, aim for high scores – never give up!

Look at the comment they added to this post too. – thank you 6 Beech 🙂

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