Barrow Hills took the opportunity in January 2008 to adopt a new and dynamic whole school programme called 'Maths Makes Sense' or 'MMS'. The author is Professor Richard Dunne who believes that Maths is actually learned more easily, pleasurably and effectively if children are taught from the start that it is based on symbolic logic. He thinks children should be educated at this early stage using mathematical symbols which are part of the universal language.

MMS is based on a learning system that recognises there are three main learning routes - the visual, the auditory and the kinaesthetic (learning by doing).  The youngest children are frequently greatly assisted by being allowed to use the kinaesthetic mode and MMS makes effective use of simple props, the chief of which is the paper cup.

The act of moving cups from one table to another brings the concepts of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division to life in a way that children find intuitive and easy. The cups can easily be cut up into parts, enabling the child to see and feel the reality of fractions.  It is no longer a surprise to hear a 6 year old Barrow Hills child confidently divide 2,000 by a quarter and give the correct answer of 8,000, often to the astonishment of a numerate parent, whose memories of early Maths are rather different.

Michael Gove, the new Education Secretary, has been quoted as saying that the Government would like the state system to teach using 'Maths Make Sense' in the near future and we are proud to have been one of the first schools in the country to embrace it.

MMS has an important side-benefit for children who may have started school by regarding Maths as essentially difficult or intimidating.  Once they realise that they are "good at Maths", the confidence that they gain is extended to becoming "good at everything".  We see MMS as one of the most powerful tools available to us in realising our Total Education philosophy.

The programme is used at Barrow Hills from Kindergarten to Year 6. It allows us to differentiate in the classroom by close screening of all children during the lesson. By monitoring the individual and ensuring that appropriate levels of support and extension are available, this makes it possible for every child to reach their potential. MMS provides a solid mathematical foundation which increases confidence, engagement, understanding and enjoyment for all pupils.

At the start of Year 6, we concentrate on establishing examination techniques and completing practice papers on a regular basis to prepare children who will be sitting the 11+ exams.

In Years 7 and 8, we develop and extend the skills learnt at Key Stage 2.  Pupils start to make connections between different aspects of Maths whilst increasing their confidence and flexibility in order to solve unfamiliar problems including murder mystery challenges and Data Handling projects whilst sustaining their positive attitude towards the subject.  Children work towards the 13+ Common Entrance syllabus with the introduction of more examination techniques and the regular completion of practice examination papers.

Miss Edworthy, Head of Maths

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