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Stratford deputy head teacher’s five a day solution for better maths

15:43 03 March 2014

A Newham deputy head teacher has written a book on mental maths to help parents improve their children’s performance with numbers.

The book is called Mental Maths 5 a day and follows a fact-finding trip by Maryland Primary School head Lorna Jackson to Finland and The Netherlands.

Both she and the deputy headteacher, Lorraine Cooper wanted to understand what those countries were doing for their children to be top of the attainment league tables in Europe in mathematics and what they might learn from them to bring home to improve standards at their Stratford school.

Lorna Jackson said: “We observed two important factors in both countries that we knew would enhance our teaching in our school. Firstly, the concentration in primary school on arithmetic or pure number work prepared their children to tackle more advanced maths much better. Children need to be very fast with their times tables and number bond work (quick mental adding and subtracting calculations).

“Secondly, the support children get at home from their parents is vital in this area for children to manage the maths curriculum. The secret to this is a little and often.”

The school ran a test for five months with 31 pupils between the ages of 7-11-years-old, all of whom were falling behind in maths. They were given daily practice for five minutes minutes every day, taken out of class and presented with 15 questions each day, with five seconds to answer each one. After five months, every child had speeded up and most were getting all or most questions correct every day.

Lorna said: “It was for this reason, to make home support easy for parents, that Lorraine Cooper wrote the book, Mental Maths 5 a day because she knew we wanted to provide every parent with a free copy and that would be very costly, it was important that the one book contained all the mental maths practice for every age of child in their primary years, from 5-11 years.”

The book was launched to parents in September 2013 and has received great feedback. In the February 2014 parents’ survey, the school was told that 91per cent believed the initiative to be important to their child’s progress. Other schools in Newham are showing interest and taking the book on for their parents too.

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