On 3rd November 2017, the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) released a guidance report entitled Improving Mathematics in Key Stages 2 & 3.
The report sets out eight evidence-based recommendations:
- use assessment to build on pupils’ existing knowledge and understanding
- use manipulatives and representations
- teach pupils strategies for solving problems
- enable pupils to develop a rich network of mathematical knowledge
- develop pupils’ independence and motivation
- use tasks and resources to challenge and support pupils’ mathematics
- use structured interventions to provide additional support
- support pupils to make a successful transition between primary and secondary school
In response to this report, we wanted to share our thoughts about the ways in which Abacus supports schools in meeting these aims. Below is a short summary, but you can find the full article on our blog.
Recommendation 1: Use assessment to build on pupils’ existing knowledge and understanding
We know how critical it is for assessment to support teachers in adapting their plans and teaching to meet the needs of pupils. Abacus contains a range of formative and summative assessment to give you all you need to assess whether or not pupils have mastered core concepts, and to identify gaps in learning. Including: ‘Key questions’ and ‘Watch out for’ within Main Teaching; Guided Activities; Mastery Checkpoints; Quick Maths Driving Tests; Individual Practice Games; and half-termly tests.
Recommendation 2: Use manipulatives and representations
Abacus is underpinned by four ‘pillars’ - the things that the author team feel are absolutely crucial to good maths teaching and learning. One of those pillars is a developmental and consistent approach to models and images. Abacus makes frequent and cohesive use of physical resources, ‘static’ pictorial representations, and manipulable pictorial represents (in the Interactive Screens and Teaching Tools), as steps on the way to abstract maths, and as scaffolding to support pupils who continue to need it.
Recommendation 3: Teach pupils strategies for solving problems
Abacus gives you access to a range of resources to help develop and practise problem solving and rich mathematical thinking skills, including: ‘Think’ questions on textbook pages; whole-class Problem Solving Activities; NRICH activities; Problem Solving Investigations; interactive Problem Solving Games; and interactive Speaking and Listening Games.
Recommendation 4: Enable pupils to develop a rich network of mathematical knowledge
One of the key aims of Abacus is that pupils should achieve not just procedural fluency but also deep conceptual understanding. Once pupils have a secure foundation in a concept, Abacus gives opportunities for pupils to demonstrate their ability to choose between mathematical strategies.
Recommendation 5: Develop pupils’ independence and motivation
A recent Abacus efficacy study report found that the majority of class teachers gave a positive response regarding how much the confidence in maths had grown among the pupils. Teachers spoke about how much the variety of approach and the interactive, colourful and lively presentation, enhance children’s confidence, motivation and enjoyment of maths.
Recommendation 6: Use tasks and resources to challenge and support pupils’ mathematics
Abacus provides a wide range of activity and resource types, with plenty of options for each lesson / week. It also gives teachers lots of opportunities to assess prior learning and identify misconceptions, allowing them to make informed decisions about which of the available activities or resources will have the most impact on their pupils at that time.
Recommendation 7: Use structured interventions to provide additional support
Abacus is not an intervention programme; it is a core mathematics service that is aimed at pupils who are broadly able to access the curriculum content for their age group. However, it does provide plenty of support for lower attainers, to help them keep up with the rest of the class, and to keep them motivated.
Recommendation 8: Support pupils to make a successful transition between primary and secondary school
Abacus helps children to develop and sustain a secure understanding of mathematicalconcepts, and helps teachers to identify areas for improvement so that this informationcan be passed to secondary schools where appropriate.
For more information on Abacus, head over to Pearson Schools & Colleges.