Back to school: the first lesson

Inevitably, as the summer holidays draw to an end it is time to get busy planning for the upcoming year. As the ‘Back to school’ stationary sales reach their zenith, I’ve been thinking about my first lesson back with a new class.Thinking back to when I was a student, there are only a few first lessons that stand out. In one, the teacher refused to...


Mastery in primary mathematics

The government announced in July that is providing £41m of funding over the next four years to help schools adopt a ‘mastery’ approach to maths teaching. This means that more than 8,000 primary schools in England will be able to join the specialist training programme run through Maths Hubs. So what is mastery? and what might it mean for your...


Water: a calculated resource in mathematics

There are many water-based problems to be found in mathematics classrooms. How many times have you posed questions about filling up water containers, and then matching them with a depth-time graph?Then there is the well-known problem below:Two friends who have an eight-quart jug of water wish to share it evenly. They also have two empty jars...


The problem with problem solving

I believe Albert Einstein was once asked “If you have one hour to save the world, how would you spend that hour?”He replied, “I would spend 55 minutes defining the problem and then five minutes solving it.”When asking 20 mathematics teachers to define problem solving you are likely to get 21 different definitions. In its recent report...


Using GIFs to teach secondary mathematics

The old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” is never truer than when attempting to explain a concept in the mathematics classroom.STEM Associate Joe Bayfield recently asked:“Do you insert GIFs into your PowerPoints?”He argued that GIFs (Graphics Interchange Format- a moving image) can be a powerful tool in science lessons to...


How to build confidence as a mathematics NQT

For many teachers, their year as a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) is the most challenging of their career. For some, their first teaching role represents their first ‘real’ full-time job. Others, with more experience outside of teaching, can still struggle with the intensive workload of their new role in the classroom.In my first year of teaching,...


Becoming more adventurous in the mathematics classroom

I have met a wide variety of mathematics teachers throughout my teaching career, all with their own distinct style. Some stick in the memory, for different reasons, whilst others influenced the way I teach.One teacher, let’s call him Graham, was supremely organised. Lessons were planned to the minute, resources laid out on the desk, seating plan...


Connecting primary mathematics and science - a practical approach

The ability of children to understand the world in which they live and play depends on how they see and make connections between subjects. Mathematics and science are at the centre of modern life and they will certainly be there in the future. This is why I am delighted to be able to speak at the mathematics conference this year and to be...


“When will I ever need to use maths?”

It is the clichéd question every mathematics teacher dreads. In my own teaching I usually answer in a variety of ways, often alluding to the skills required in the world of work. Apart from my own role as a teacher of mathematics, I could usually think of a few examples but soon ran dry of other career choices which used the specific topic at...


Problem solving in mathematics: not such a new thing after all!

Problem solving is a key requirement of the new mathematics curriculum. The assessment objectives for the new mathematics GCSE states that a quarter of the marks at foundation level are awarded for students demonstrating their ability to solve problems, for the higher GCSE paper, the requirement is 30%.But as we all know, problem solving in...



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