Monthly Archives:January 2020

Authentic Maths in 2020

02 Jan 20
Rebecca Hanson
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Authentic Maths exists to provide support for primary school teachers to help them become expert maths teachers.

Teachers and schools are under extreme pressure to follow detailed pre-written stepwise schemes of work. Expert maths teachers do not need these schemes – they are able to work directly from the national curriculum. Although some expert teachers may choose to use part or all of a pre-written stepwise scheme of work or any other maths teaching method that matches the needs of their students well, many choose to use more efficient teaching strategies which pivot around the teaching of fundamental structures and low-threshold high-ceiling teaching methods instead of using stepwise approaches.  The observational, creative, responsive and inclusive nature of low-threshold high-ceiling teaching strategies, in combination with the time gained through the efficiencies they bring, allow teachers to spend much more time responding to the needs and interests of their students. This usually leads to significant gains not just in maths learning but also in cross-curricular learning and in student and teacher mental health. In Finland, where expert teaching is the norm, there is no youth mental health crisis and education standards are exceptionally high.

Expert teaching is currently under existential threat in England because of the very substantial pressures on it which have been applied by government policy.  Expert teaching has only ever thrived in communities where teachers have been resourced to share and reflect on their practice with highly skilled mentors. Over recent years schools have been swamped with free training on adopting stepwise schemes of work and no resource has been provided to support expert teaching or low-threshold high-ceiling teaching methods. Although stepwise schemes clearly help our least able teachers improve their teaching, they generally de-skill our most expert teachers. 

Since 2014 Authentic Maths has been working hard to try to support our expert primary maths teachers by mentoring them and trying to capture and share the essence of what they do.  Two-hour year-specific training sessions and have been developed and improved over four generations of re-writes. They now share the fundamental insights teachers need to be able to become expert maths teachers and to understand low-threshold high-ceiling teaching so they can use it if they feel it’s the best approach for their students.  In late 2019 I made an initial attempt to start Freesharing this training on YouTube and the reception class course which resulted from this effort is available here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLyaXzDBen7Po_SPFV3eysY1CQgPqadngq

Teachers and other experts are invited to criticise and add to Authentic Maths training.  This is leading to collaborative videos such as this one on motor sensory integration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XT8HG2tAenA

So what’s next?

In 2020 my aims are to:
1. Share the core training for years 1-4 in four more professionally produced series of videos, each of which are time-limited to 2 hours. Years 5 and 6 will follow in 2021 and series for parents and teaching assistants will hopefully follow in the future.

2. Continue to create collaborative videos with other experts who add more insights into maths teaching beyond those I offer.
(cost for aims 1&2 will be approx. £1000 for travel and resources. I will record the videos on my iphone and edit them myself at the rate of approximately one per week).

3. Promote these videos so that teachers become aware of them and can find them if they are looking for them.  To do this I need the support of a distributor (cost approx. £500/year for 2 years for distribution across forums), a marketing advisor (cost approx. £1000) and an SEO promotion company (cost approx. £2000).

The total cost of this plan is therefore around £5000 and I will try to raise funds for it. I do not have this money myself and it is not realistic that these videos will ever generate enough income to cover these costs (they’d need about 2-3 million views!). Sponsors can be credited but no editorial control is offered.  If I do not manage to raise this money. I will just carry on regardless and do what I can.  With more than £5000 I could provide more than one video per week and I could do much more to promote the videos and the general concept of expert teaching.

I’ve now created a JustGiving page where anyone can donate to help raise this money. It’s here.