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#389 Improving Arithmetic Across UKS2 – Sprites Primary Academy

Elie Hayton

What did we do?

Children at our school have had a history of low SATS results. In 2019 we got 47% combined at KS2, and in 2018 it was 27% combined. I decided, as maths lead, to implement strategic teaching of arithmetic once a day, to improve upon maths SATS scores at UKS2 level. As a secondary outcome, I also decided to focus on maths anxiety and the impact that high stakes testing has on pupils.

I implemented the idea that we should teach arithmetic for 15 minutes before each maths lesson. In Year 6, the teachers base arithmetic questions on gaps from previous PiXL papers (our assessment tool). Children mark their own, and teachers check which questions children are finding difficult.

We also, as a school, implemented booster sessions to happen after school with a teacher. These happen once a week. The children identified for this booster are children who need to make accelerated progress in maths.

‘Arithmetic helps you to warm your brain up, and helps us to revisit things you have already learnt so you don’t forget.’

A child in year 6.

Summary of impact

Arithmetic lessons are embedded as part of our practice when teaching maths at Sprites. We all teach arithmetic daily. There is an arithmetic schedule which we all stick to, however this also enables us to be flexible, with targeted support for certain children with gaps that we have identified from our assessment tool, PiXL.

Children in Year 6 have made good progress in maths this year. Children who attended extra booster sessions have made accelerated progress.

Children who attended booster groups made an average of 19 marks progress in their maths assessments, and children who did attend boosters made an average of 38 marks progress in their maths assessments.

This shows us that children have made progress in maths based off their arithmetic and maths lessons, but alongside that, children have made accelerated progress if they attended after school booster groups.

Steps taken

I started implementing my project at the end of last school year. We started with a CPD session during summer term 2021. This outlined the new ‘look’ for maths, and introduced the idea of having arithmetic every day for 15 minutes.

I then repeated this CPD session at the beginning of this academic year. This was due to there being a high number of new staff. I then provided staff with an arithmetic schedule, and we discussed what arithmetic was for.

Teachers then started consistently implementing arithmetic sessions in each maths lesson from September 2021. Maths lessons were elongated from either 9.00-10.30 or 1045-12.15 to allow for us to have enough time to complete arithmetic and then complete a full maths lesson.

I then consistently monitored as part of my role as maths lead, checking books periodically, and discussing with teachers. I also covered arithmetic sessions in Year 6 to see how they worked and how well rehearsed the children were.

I taught booster groups, and then when booster groups were reduced due to other after school clubs being implemented, checked up on the teacher who was covering maths booster groups.

What would we do differently

The things I would do differently if I undertook this project again are:

  • I would complete interventions in school time as well as booster groups. This would alleviate the attendance problem and allow all children to make progress.
  • Instead of doing CPD for teachers, I would also give CPD sessions for LSAs and other support staff. This would ensure that all staff were on the same page about what arithmetic was and what it was there for.
  • I would also give more of a focus to SEND provision within arithmetic, and give teachers more CPD on how to specifically cater arithmetic sessions for SEND.

Resources required

  • Three CPD sessions (1 hour each).
  • Every Thursday morning release time to attend training / implement activities.
  • Staff time – booster groups after school.
  • Resources required to implement arithmetic activities.

Feedback from Participants

Teacher feedback:

Do you feel arithmetic sessions benefit the children in Year 6?

Yes, regular (usually daily) arithmetic sessions are crucial for helping children develop and improve their arithmetic skills and the pace of their calculation work. It also helps them to make fewer basic errors in their work and take greater care to avoid doing so.

Do you feel the children who are attending booster sessions for maths are benefitting from these?

Yes, children attending maths booster groups are definitely benefitting. They show a positive attitude and a good understanding of the work covered. Over time, their scores on SATS arithmetic papers have all improved, although some obviously more than others.

Are there any barriers to this?

There are a few barriers: the first is that some children who would benefit don’t come, despite being encouraged to; the second is that some are missing the maths booster session on Thursdays after school because they prefer to go to an after-school club. To try and circumvent this, I’m also now doing a maths booster on a Tuesday too and several children are now coming to this session who have an after-school club on a Thursday.

Are children making progress in maths?

The overwhelming majority of children are making progress in maths and their scores are creeping up but not quite as much as we’d hoped in some cases, so it’s going to require a big push to get some to ARE in May. We have two months, so more lessons, more booster sessions and the time to go through the practice test papers they’ve done so they can correct their mistakes. The Pixl gaps analysis spreadsheet that we’ve used to input their arithmetic scores is clearly showing areas/questions where fewer children scored marks, so I can start to target these specific areas and cover them in more depth in the arithmetic sessions I plan from now on, particularly by looking at the breakdown of the ‘Target’ children’s scores.

Pupil feedback: Children were given a survey to complete at the beginning, vs the end of the school year.

Children reported higher levels of confidence in arithmetic, and in maths in general in our latest survey, vs the one we completed in September 2021.

Children in both surveys rated their arithmetic lessons as ‘helpful’ in helping them progress in their maths lessons.

Quotes from children in year 6 include: ‘Arithmetic helps you to warm your brain up, and helps us to revisit things you have already learnt so you don’t forget.’

See how others have implemented this Big Idea

Implementing Learning by Questions to improve KS2 outcomes - Springfield Juniors

Improving Writing Outcomes - The Federation of Fairfeld Infant and Colneis Junior

Raising Attainment in Maths Through Improved Problem Solving Skills - Trimley St Mary Primary School

Developing Times Table Knowledge in Lower KS2 - Sidegate Primary School

Securing Number in EYFS/KS1 Through Mastering Number Sessions - Castle Hill Infant and Junior Schools

Improving Reading Through Oxford Reading Buddy - Dale Hall CP School

Go Get EM - Suffolk New College

Reading and Maths Development and Interventions - Northgate High School

Poor Attendance/Behaviour of SEN (Specific) Students, Including Truancy From Lessons - Harwich & Dovercourt High School

Improving the Standard of Writing in non-English Subjects - Cliff Lane Primary

Supporting the Understanding of the Number System and Developing Fluency with Number Facts -The Oaks Primary School

Pupil Book Study - Handford Hall Primary School

Creating a Culture of Reading (KS3) - Ipswich Academy

Building Confidence and a Joy of Mathematics (KS3) - Ipswich Academy

Impact of Catch-Up Programme - Morland Primary School

Addressing the Gender Gap at School Copleston High School

Developing Phonics with Twinkl - Trimley St Martin Primary

Using whole class arithmetic interventions - The Beeches Primary School


Sprites Primary Academy

Elie Hayton