The context

Larger than the average primary school, Pendle Primary Academy has 420 children on roll, of whom the majority are of Pakistani heritage. A short inspection in 2019 reported that the school had not only retained its ‘Good’ Ofsted status since its first inspection in 2015 but also showed marked improvement in some areas.

The Academy’s Principal, Simon Thompson, had a number of reasons for working with White Rose Maths:

1. Approach
Differentiation in maths at Pendle had generally been viewed in terms of providing different activities for different pupil groups. However, as part of a wider drive towards embracing maths mastery, Simon and his team and wanted to redefine differentiation as ‘providing support that allows every child to succeed at the expected standard’.

2. Conceptual understanding
With deep understanding at the top of the agenda, Simon was keen to place discussion and exploration of concepts at the heart of every maths lesson. He also wanted to improve reasoning and fluency outcomes while also offering plenty of opportunities to practise basic arithmetic skills.

3. Planning
Simon was eager to empower his staff to take greater ownership of maths planning and assessment, thus raising the quality and relevance of the planning process.

How we helped
The development programme began with the downloadable White Rose Maths (WRM) Schemes of Learning which are available to all, free of charge. Following training from WRM, the Maths Lead piloted the schemes across two year groups (Y1 and Y5), allowing a well-supported introduction period which also gave the opportunity to collate evidence of impact.

Following the successful pilot, the Maths Lead (who also became a Bar Model Licence Partner) trained the whole Pendle Primary team in WRM pedagogy, key messages and how to use the schemes to plan teaching, learning and support. Furthermore, she offered input during staff meetings every half term and commissioned WRM to deliver a Bar Modelling twilight training session.
As well as the schemes, the Academy also uses a number of WRM’s free materials to complement and add value to each lesson: these include Problems of the Day and Barvember problems as well as end-of-block and end-of-term assessments.

Challenges and solutions
WRM training highlights the importance of enabling all children to keep up rather than catch up and suggests a variety of strategies for achieving this. For example, while concepts and fluency are covered and revisited throughout the schemes, WRM encourages teachers to build in extra fluency sessions within their timetables to suit their learners. At Pendle, one such strategy involved running regular key skills sessions in which children could continually revisit and reinforce their learning.

Many staff were used to using traditional schemes which prescribed the questions to ask their learners. However, to ensure that staff could effectively check understanding and promote deeper learning, the Maths Lead gave them extra support with planning varied and well targeted questions. As well as making questioning more relevant and productive, this also helped develop the team’s confidence and initiative in the classroom.

Making a difference
Simon Thompson reflects, “The WRM schemes’ structure gave our teachers a clear progression route for their planning, both within and across year groups. The questions and examples in these schemes comprise a valuable resource bank to which we added compatible materials from other sources. We were delighted that in the year following the introduction of the WRM schemes, reasoning assessments showed a significant uplift of around 10%.

White Rose Maths is clearly driven by people who are passionate about maths. The schemes have made a very positive difference both to our staff and our pupils, and while we have yet to feel the need for any dramatic change or intervention, It’s good to know that such support is available should we need it.”