Sarah Claflin, Deputy Head at St. Michael’s

St. Michael’s VA Junior School is a four-form entry school in Norwich, Norfolk. They pride themselves on their exciting, enterprising curriculum and strive to raise standards with the local community in a supportive way.
Thanks to the inspirational work of teachers and school leadership, St. Michael’s have built a culture of success in maths over the last four years, achieving dramatic improvement in their SATs results.

Sarah Claflin, deputy headteacher and subject leader in maths, was kind enough to share her experience of working with Whizz Education.

The Challenge

Raising SATs results
‘When I first moved to St. Michael’s, our SATs results in maths were below floor. I knew that we needed to evaluate and restructure our approach to maths.’

‘At my previous school, we’d also been struggling with our maths results. Back then, we did some research and came across Maths-Whizz and Whizz Education.’

‘I was there for less than a year using Maths-Whizz, but I’d already seen its potential.’

The Solution
Using Maths-Whizz to support classroom teaching

‘We made a lot of changes to the way we teach maths; Maths-Whizz was a fundamental part of that. It helps to support us with the analysis and understanding of each child’s needs — as well as the enjoyment.’

Whizz Education partnered with St. Michael’s to help them enrich their classroom teaching with Maths-Whizz, providing personalised learning for students and empowering teachers to instantly track every student’s progress.

‘The Maths-Whizz Tutor is now the only maths homework we set. It is tailored and personalised and teaches each child at the level they need, with all the support they need.’

‘Something like a worksheet just can’t achieve that: maybe you could differentiate three ways, but who’s to say that will be accessible to everyone?’
‘The Maths-Whizz Tutor, on the other hand — now that has impact.’

‘It’s key that our teachers use the Maths-Whizz reports, and that each child has some individual time with their teacher in the Maths-Whizz hour. Children see their efforts and progress visualised, and teachers get great results by understanding and analysing the reports.’

‘Our children really like to know how they’re doing. With the new curriculum it’s not so visible to the children how they’re progressing through levels. Maths-Whizz helps them to see their progression.’

‘We didn’t use it for all children at first. The teachers really liked it and the children were catching up quickly. We were seeing great results, so we thought, why not invest and use it across the whole school?’

The Results
Empowered teachers and ‘incredible’ SATs results

Sarah Claflin joined the school in 2012 when St. Michael’s were achieving 58% in their Year 6 SATs results. Since implementing Maths-Whizz and working with Whizz Education these have improved year on year. The 2017 SATs results show an impressive 22% improvement, with 80% of children meeting the national standard for maths.

‘Since starting with Maths-Whizz, our year on year SATs results have got better and better; our scores shot up! It’s incredible, really.’

‘The children really enjoy it, too. They even use the Tutor in their spare time. They often come in at break and say “Can I spend some time on Maths-Whizz?” Some children would love to spend hours on it. Just today, one of the children came over to me, excited about the fact that he had worked hard daily to improve his Maths Age and at last he had beaten our reigning champion.’

‘The teachers are really seeing the results of using the Maths-Whizz reporting tools, understanding and analysing each child’s maths progress. They can really visualise each child’s learning, and they share that with the children one-to-one, letting them decide if they want to compete with others.’

What’s next for St. Michael’s?
With their enterprise curriculum, maths is at the heart of life at St. Michael’s. The school prepares students for the future by teaching them about the concrete uses of maths in finance, accountancy and tax among other topics.

‘We are moving towards mastery, but that of course still needs development. Children are starting to use maths outside of the classroom and be able to put their skills to other uses. We’ve certainly got the enjoyment factor. Most children enjoy maths and a high percentage would say it’s their favourite subject.’

‘We always make sure there’s consistency, and that we make maths a big part of school life. Maths-Whizz really helps, feeding into the routine and practice.’

But maths at St. Michael’s is also more than that. With tailored support and an emphasis on rich learning experiences, teachers and school leadership are achieving their mission: developing “a passion for learning far beyond the school day and throughout [our children’s] lives.”