Sean Barry, Assistant Principal, and Ken Foley, Principal
Scoil Padre Pio Primary School in Churchfield, Cork City is a DEIS (Band 1) school that supports a socio-economically disadvantaged community. During the two Covid related school closures, Scoil Padre Pio began a collaboration with Whizz Education to implement a programme to improve learning outcomes in Maths which included access to the award-winning, virtual tutor Maths-Whizz.
Sean Barry, assistant principal explains: “The implementation has been funded through multiple sources. Initial funding from SUAS (later Kinia) plus the generosity of a property company called Linesight. Devices were sponsored by contributions from our suppliers, Gurranabraher Credit Union as well as the generosity of volunteers Denis O’Donovan and Frank Falvey, so it’s been a real case of the whole community coming together to support our students and we are very grateful for that.’’
“Our journey with Whizz Education began with planning and teacher training on MathsWhizz, to learn how it works and how the rich data can be used to benefit the school, classes and students. The remote sessions also covered how to work best with our special educational needs students to ensure they were familiar with the language and working of the programme. We were also able to explore the extensive teachers’ resources which include over 1,200 lesson plans, worksheets and supporting materials.
“The support from the Whizz Education team has been great and they are both proactive and responsive. No problem is too big, or small. One child didn’t have a log-in and our Whizz contacts Jean-Francois Lucas and Matt Jones, set one up within a matter of minutes! We have bought into far more than just the virtual tutor and now have a whole support team of educational experts behind us!
“Maths-Whizz itself is brilliant because it assesses ability and tailors the individual learning journey for each child, supporting those with very little maths knowledge, right through to challenging our more able students. Maths-Whizz automatically targets the work and topics, enabling every child no matter what their age or level to progress across a range of subject areas providing they engage with the solution. It’s that simple!
We have found that standardized test results for children who regularly engage with Maths-Whizz have noticeably improved.
“It is very important also to have the support of our parents so children can access Maths-Whizz at home. Whizz Education arranged a parents’ webinar, so everyone was onboard. Our home school liaison coordinator was able to arrange the loan of tablets to some families without the resources to access a device.”
Evelyn Murphy, second class teacher confirms: “No matter what their ability, every child enjoys, learns and sees the results when using Maths-Whizz. They are rewarded by seeing clear evidence of their progress and this is motivating for them. I’ve also found the teachers’ resources are helpful as there is so much variety. There is always another strategy or worksheet to try, to suit different abilities. We also like to run mini-competitions in class to see who can make the most progressions within a set time. Although everyone is at a different level, the children all work together which promotes team and pair work too – it’s fantastic!”
Principal, Ken Foley confirms: “Working with Whizz Education has been incredible. The Maths-Whizz solution is outstanding. During lockdown it meant that every child could access quality maths education and progress their learning. Those benefits have been brought back into school. Online access for just one hour per week means we are confident everything in the maths curriculum is completely covered.”
Sean Barry continues: “At the end of the summer we surveyed every teacher at Scoil Padre Pio and their feedback was hugely positive with 90% keen to continue to work with Whizz Education and the Maths-Whizz virtual tutor.”