The NCETM Maths Podcast
What mastery has done for our school

What mastery has done for our school

November 27, 2019

Jenny Laurie is a deputy head and maths teacher at The St Marylebone CE School in central London. The school was one of the very earliest to adopt a teaching for mastery approach in maths.

When two maths teachers visited Shanghai, they were particularly struck by the collaborative nature of curriculum planning there, and resolved to introduce a more collegiate way of planning at St Marylebone.

Initially something of a sceptic, Jenny explains why she has been completely won over by the changes they have made, and what she hopes this might mean for their GCSE results in 2020. 

Episode chapters

  • 00:52: The school and Jenny’s role
  • 02:55: Why the school changed the way they taught maths
  • 04:24: How the maths department used to work
  • 05:05: How they decided to change
  • 08:41: The first collaborative planning meeting (on fractions)
  • 11:31: Deciding on a system of planning meetings
  • 12:40: How is time for these meetings created now?
  • 14:44: How collaborative planning saves time
  • 15:17: How the planning sessions work
  • 16:51: Retention and development of staff
  • 17:42: Jenny’s development as a class teacher
  • 19:55: Sending one teacher out of school for CPD
  • 20:53: Not scripted lessons
  • 21:36: When a planned lesson doesn’t work
  • 22:58: The effects on students (engagement, results…)
  • 25:34: What the data is showing about attainment of all students
  • 26:55: Enabling staff to be excellent teachers
  • 28:00: Other departments’ interest in collaborative planning
  • 30:01: Jenny’s advice to other schools’ senior leaders
Eugenia Cheng rethinks gender around maths

Eugenia Cheng rethinks gender around maths

November 7, 2019

Eugenia Cheng rethinks gender around maths

Dr Eugenia Cheng is a research mathematician who teaches maths to arts students at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She was born and educated in England and is an honorary hellow at the University of Sheffield. Eugenia holds a strong commitment to making maths accessible to all, and to this end, is the author of a number of popular maths books and articles.

Eugenia’s reflections on being a woman in the world of research mathematics make for interesting listening. She compares her experiences of teaching maths students and arts students and argues that associating certain behaviours with masculinity or femininity is unhelpful. To make the world of maths more open to all, she suggests we adopt a different way of thinking and talking – and even makes up some new words!

Her thought-provoking ideas about maths, gender, how children learn, and cooking (!) will be of interest to anyone wondering about why maths alienates some of their students.

Show notes

Taking part in the discussion are:

  • Dr Eugenia Cheng, Scientist In Residence, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
  • Gwen Tresidder, Communications Manager, NCETM

Episode chapters

  • 00:59: Eugenia’s background
  • 07:34: Teaching arts students vs teaching maths students
  • 09:08: How has teaching arts students developed Eugenia’s ideas about maths and gender?
  • 10:31: How a person’s feelings about winning or losing might be linked to whether they like maths
  • 13:13: Eugenia suppressing her femininity in order to succeed as a maths researcher
  • 14:52: How society has associated character traits with gender
  • 16:47: ‘Ingressive’ and ‘congressive’: new words for character types that are not attached to gender
  • 19:31: How might Eugenia’s ideas affect the way maths is taught?
  • 21:34: Making a safe classroom environment
  • 24:20: What sort of environment was Eugenia taught in at school?
  • 26:32: Removing the emphasis on right and wrong answers in maths
  • 29:14: How is maths like cooking?
  • 34:06: Where to find out more…

Useful links

Eugenia mentions the book: Christopher Danielson ‘Which one doesn’t belong?’ There is also an associated website.

Eugenia’s website: www.eugeniacheng.com  

Eugenia also uses abstract mathematics analogies to explain the world we live in – in her TEDX talk she explains social inequality using prime factorisation!

Eugenia’s series of cooking videos ‘The Mathster Chef’ can be found at the bottom of this page

An audience with the exam boards: the new A level and GCSE 9-1

An audience with the exam boards: the new A level and GCSE 9-1

October 18, 2019

An audience with the exam boards: the new A level and GCSE 9-1

This year, our podcast with the exam boards focuses on the new reformed A level, first examined for a whole cohort this summer (2019). We also discuss how things are going with the 9-1 GCSE, now in its third year. Representatives from England’s three main exam boards share their thoughts on how students got on, what the implications are for teaching and how the new qualifications might affect numbers opting for A level.

Show notes

Taking part in the discussion are:

  • Andrew Taylor, AQA
  • Graham Cumming, Edexcel
  • Neil Ogden, OCR
  • Gwen Tresidder, Communications Manager, NCETM

Episode chapters

  • 00:43 – Introducing the speakers
  • 02:04 – A Level: How did the students get on?
  • 12:23 – How are students managing the length of the papers?
  • 14:46 – How did the move to linear assessment go?
  • 16:59 – Did the new GCSE 9-1 prepare students better for the A level? Implications for teaching GCSE.
  • 21:45 – Will this year’s low grade boundaries affect numbers of students taking A level maths?
  • 29:21 – What should A level maths teachers put more focus on in their teaching?
  • 33:45 – GCSE
  • 34:09 – How did students perform? What content areas are still difficult?
  • 39:37 – Are we getting better at the new specification? The problem with unfamiliar question-types.
  • 43:11 – Examples, from all 3 boards, of a question in which students did well, and one in which they did badly.

Exam board questions referred to in this episode (PDF).

Managing maths in mixed-age classes

Managing maths in mixed-age classes

October 10, 2019

Managing maths in mixed-age classes

The current National Curriculum, introduced in 2013, divides mathematical learning clearly into ‘year group objectives’. This has led teachers to ask how to manage year group objectives for two or more year groups within one class of children.

Many Maths Hubs have responded by running ‘innovation’ Work Groups, to support these teachers, using various different models. In 2019/20, for the first time, a national project in mixed-age teaching brings together the experience from all these Maths Hubs. In this interview, we talk to two teachers with years of experience teaching mixed-age classes, who are running Work Groups in their local hubs. We find out what ideas they have for managing maths in mixed-age classes, and ask how they plan to support the teachers they are working with. 

Show notes

Taking part in the discussion are:

  • Emma Parr, Maths Lead from Cholsey Primary School, South Oxfordshire. Mastery Specialist and Work Group Lead for BBO Maths Hub. 
  • Matt Curtis, Maths Lead and Deputy Head from Edgewood Primary School in Hucknall, Nottinghamshire. Work Group Lead for East Midlands West Maths Hub.
  • Gwen Tresidder, Communications Manager, NCETM

Episode chapters

  • 01:09 – Introductions
  • 03:37 – Matt: Teaching objectives from two year groups to the whole class
  • 04:48 – How do you fit it all in?
  • 05:26 – Doesn’t it get boring?
  • 07:29 – Deepening understanding by supporting a younger partner
  • 08:21 – How is planning shared?
  • 10:24 – Emma: Using a variety of models within one school
  • 12:45 – Aiming input at single year groups within a bigger class
  • 13:19 – Encouraging independent working
  • 13:57 – Managing the noise factor
  • 14:19 – Maths input in Y1/2 with continuous provision
  • 14:54 – KS1 in Matt’s school
  • 17:22 – Do Y5s in a Y5/6 class get 2 years of SATs pressure?
  • 22:23 – What are the advantages of having mixed age groups in a class?
  • 24:38 – How will Work Groups support teachers of classes spanning more than two age groups?
Making the most of our new secondary mastery materials

Making the most of our new secondary mastery materials

September 26, 2019

In this first episode of the new school year, we interview three of the people behind the recently published Secondary Mastery Professional Development Materials. They explain how the materials can help departments and teachers develop their maths pedagogy to teach for deep and connected understanding. They offer teachers suggestions for how the materials might be used, where they might start and how they are structured.

If you would like to look at the specific section discussed in detail on the podcast, ‘Understanding multiplicative relationships’, you can find that here.

Show notes

  • Carol Knights, Director for Secondary, NCETM
  • Pete Griffin, Assistant Director (Secondary), NCETM
  • Steve Lomax, Maths Hub Lead, GLOW Maths Hub
  • Gwen Tresidder, Communications Manager, NCETM

Episode chapters

  • 01:01 – What we mean by ‘teaching for mastery’
  • 04:01 – How and why the materials were created
  • 06:06 – Balance between too much and too little material in a lesson
  • 07:08 – How they are intended to be used by teachers
  • 10:27 – Classroom ideas contained in the materials
  • 13:58 – How the materials are structured
  • 17:11 – How teachers in a school might work with the materials
  • 23:25 – The multiplicative reasoning theme in detail
  • 27:10 – Why trigonometry is part of multiplicative reasoning
  • 30:40 – Common misconceptions
  • 31:15 – Representations: PDF documents and videos
  • 34:10 – How they can be used by a teacher on his/her own
  • 36:30 – How the materials are linked to research
How mastery works in a secondary school maths department

How mastery works in a secondary school maths department

July 18, 2019

In this podcast, the last of the 2018/19 school year, we find out how a secondary school maths department works together to ensure all maths lessons in Years 7 and 8 are consistent in approach—and it’s a teaching for mastery approach developed by the department gradually over three years. One of the teachers interviewed has just finished the first year of training, with the NCETM and his local Maths Hub, as a Mastery Specialist. The other is the head of KS3 maths at the school, Penrice Academy in St Austell, Cornwall.

Taking part in the discussion are:

  • Matt Smith, Mastery Specialist teacher, Penrice Academy
  • Gerald Parry, Head of Key Stage 3 maths, Penrice Academy
  • Steve McCormack, Communications Director, NCETM
Behind the scenes of the Mastery Readiness Programme

Behind the scenes of the Mastery Readiness Programme

June 10, 2019

In this podcast, we visit Spring Bank Primary School in Leeds and talk to headteacher, Sarah Hawes and maths lead, Tracey Baruah. With 40 years’ experience between them, they explain their enthusiasm for what the Mastery Readiness Programme is offering the children in their school.

The Mastery Readiness Programme began work with a small number of schools in the Northern Powerhouse in 2018/19. The programme was designed in response to Maths Hubs’ recognition that some schools were not able or ready to engage with the full Teaching for Mastery Programme. This bespoke programme offers schools support with preparatory groundwork to become ‘ready’ for teaching for mastery. The programme is being rolled out nationally in 2019/20.

If your school might benefit from participation in the expanding Mastery Readiness Programme, please contact your local Maths Hub, or email Emma Patman or Elizabeth Lambert directly.

You can also find out more about the programme by visiting the Mastery Readiness section of our website.

Show notes

Taking part in the discussion are:

  • Sarah Hawes, Headteacher at Spring Bank Primary School
  • Tracey Baruah, Maths Lead at Spring Bank Primary School
  • Gwen Tresidder, Communications Manager, NCETM

Episode chapters

  • 01:10 – Introductions and how the school began with mastery
  • 05:05 – What the Mastery Readiness Programme involves
  • 07:25 – Not like attending one-off workshops
  • 09:45 – Getting all staff on board
  • 12:32 – Articulate children
  • 14:47 – A different type of training
  • 18:42 – Understanding what ‘going deeper’ means
  • 19:29 – Focus on problem solving
  • 25:18 – What pupils have got out of it
  • 27:17 – Abandoning ability-groupings: a revelation
  • 32:26 – Next year: the full Teaching for Mastery Programme
  • 33:57 – The challenges
  • 39:39 – Advice for heads considering Mastery Readiness.
Teaching the hardest topics in GCSE maths

Teaching the hardest topics in GCSE maths

March 18, 2019

Teaching the hardest topics in GCSE maths

Which are the hardest topics in GCSE maths? You will know some by reputation. Some might surprise you. What can you do to make these topics more accessible to students? In particular, how can you unlock a depth of understanding that allows students to use their knowledge flexibly and in unfamiliar situations?

The Maths Hub network’s national project, ‘Challenging Topics at GCSE’, addresses these issues, through local collaborative teacher Work Groups.

In this podcast, two teachers from South Yorkshire, who lead Work Groups, tell us why teachers should get involved. They tell us about the benefits to teachers and their wider departments. The podcast begins with an interview with Kathryn Greenhalgh, Maths Hub Lead for Yorkshire and the Humber, who gives a national picture of the project.

Show notes

Taking part in the discussion are:

  • Kathryn Greenhalgh, Maths Hub Lead for Yorkshire and the Humber
  • Lisa Wilson, Penistone Grammar School, Barnsley, and Work Group Lead for South Yorkshire Maths Hub
  • Rosie Kavanagh, Oakwood High School, Rotherham, and Work Group Lead for South Yorkshire Maths Hub
  • Gwen Tresidder, Communications Manager, NCETM
Why and how to use the ‘ping-pong’ teaching style

Why and how to use the ‘ping-pong’ teaching style

March 6, 2019

The episodic or ‘ping-pong' teaching approach is one of the most striking features of a mastery-style lesson. But what is it exactly and how does it affect decisions when planning lessons?

In this podcast, Primary Mastery Specialists Faye Glendinning and Sam Shutkever take us through the gritty detail of episodic lesson planning.

They explain the theory and how it is implemented in their schools. Each of them then takes us through the episodes of a recent lesson in detail, explaining each planning decision.

Show notes

Taking part in the discussion are:

  • Faye Glendinning, Cedars Academy, Birmingham, and Central Maths Hub
  • Sam Shutkever, Akroydon Primary Academy, Halifax, and West Yorkshire Maths Hub
  • Gwen Tresidder, Communications Manager, NCETM

Additional related content is available on the podcast page on our website.

Raising girls’ participation in maths

Raising girls’ participation in maths

February 13, 2019

After GCSE, 20% fewer girls than boys continue studying maths. This limits their access to some of the more challenging, interesting and lucrative careers. But why? In this podcast episode we speak with Rachel Beddoes, Girls’ Participation Coordinator of the Advanced Maths Support Programme (AMSP). She explains what the barriers are for girls, and what teachers and schools can do to overcome these. She also gives details of events and bespoke support available from the AMSP and other organisations. There are links below for more details on these.

Show notes

Taking part in the discussion are:

  • Rachel Beddoes, Girls’ Participation Coordinatior, AMSP
  • Gwen Tressider, Communications Manager, NCETM

Episode chapters

  • 00:57 – The creation of the AMSP
  • 02:34 – Rachel’s (maths) life story
  • 04:34 – Why is a Girls Participation Officer needed?
  • 07:34 – Why are fewer girls doing advanced maths than boys?
  • 11:33 – What is AMSP doing about it?
  • 13:50 – How could teachers address these barriers?
  • 15:30 – Core Maths and girls
  • 19:33 – What can teachers do? 
  • 22:01 – What are Stemettes?
  • 24:11 – What can 11-16 schools do?
  • 26:13 – The role of female maths teachers
  • 28:51 – Women in Science and Engineering (WISE)
  • 31:33 – Whole school strategies

Links for research and initiatives mentioned in the interview: