Lisa Tipping – Year 5 Class Teacher & Maths Lead, William Gilbert Endowed Church of England Primary and Nursery School
William Gilbert is a high achieving school, and we are lucky to have very capable pupils and supportive parents. Last year, we were looking for a maths virtual tutoring solution that ticked a number of boxes, including scope to offer personalised learning and a system that would challenge our more able students. We also needed it to support lost learning for a minority of pupils post lockdown, as part of our curriculum catch-up plan. In addition, we used it to supplement our intervention programme to support lower attaining pupils, or those who had not made expected maths progress. We were also interested in closing any knowledge gaps before end of Key Stage assessments.
We trialled Maths-Whizz in the summer of 2020 with our Year six students. Following a favourable response, we rolled it out to the whole school of 245 pupils in October, as it met the needs for many pupils.
Maths-Whizz identifies strengths and weaknesses and provides support to scaffold learning. It works well alongside our class taught lessons, and we use it both in school and at home to support learning and as timetabled homework. To give us the best chance of success, it was crucial that parents were on board, and so we arranged an online training session for them. Our parents are very committed and this helped ensure a large number of pupils were engaged.
The Whizz Education team has provided fantastic training for us, and has been quick to resolve any minor issues straight away. They also identify any individual children in relation to progress, which can be helpful and means we can step in to help when needed.
We incorporate Maths-Whizz into weekly lessons to promote the system. Maths is a bit like a dripping tap; skills need to be revised and revisited continually, and Maths-Whizz enables learning achieved in previous lessons to be covered again. In this way, learning can be consolidated following face-to-face lessons on a particular topic, as it presents information in a different way which is helpful. Teachers can set specific tasks to complement class teaching, or let Maths Whizz present lessons covering a variety of topics at any time.
The appealing, visual user interface is accessed to gain rewards like gems and avatars, then children need to maintain their status through progressions. We set four progressions per week and children’s average time spent on Maths-Whizz is just under an hour per week. They need to use it consistently and can’t blitz through the system then not use for three weeks. This helps maintain engagement as they have to keep going. This reward system works really well.
Staff monitor progress through the dashboard. They can send certificates or praise attainment or scoop up those who have not made the required progress. It means we can have an active dialogue about maths learning with our students. In a lesson, I can dip into the Maths-Whizz history to check the progress of all students. If a student has spent a lot of time on the system, but not made much progress for example, the Maths Whizz dashboard flags this up quickly. I can then work with the pupil one-to-one, by accessing the lesson they have been working on. The information is just a few clicks away and is easy for every class teacher to access.
We have found the maths topics offer a good range of learning in line with the curriculum. The focus on strengths and weaknesses can be analysed easily through bars and progressions. It is possible to drill down to address pupil and cohort weakness and take steps to support them.
Maths Whizz is a great resource to use alongside class teaching. To make it work, everyone needs to be on board and usage needs to be promoted in school. We have well established and experienced staff, and all subject leads support each other, something that is reflective of the ethos of our school. I think with any EdTech implementation like this, everyone must work together to make it a success and we’ve been able to do this to support our students.
Maths-Whizz has been a success from the start. We had a lot of dialogue with Whizz Education and the team. The training was very thorough, and I know they are willing to work with both small and large schools and those which are part of larger trusts too. Whizz Education is open to address any challenges, and we are now working with them to help develop new software to meet different needs for the future.