Just as we were getting to grips with the Literacy Strategy, the structure of the hour and the resources needed, the dawning of the Numeracy Strategy began.
So how is the hour structured?
As part of the National Numeracy Strategy daily mathematics lessons are taught. These last for about 45 minutes in Key Stage 1, increasing to 50-60 minute lessons in Key Stage 2. The first 10 minutes of each lesson consists of oral work and mental calculations. They have a brisk pace and lively encouragement for all to take part. Obviously the teacher can differentiate questions to target individuals appropriately. This time can be used to learn and/or consolidate number facts and to discuss mental strategies. The main teaching activity follows for the next 30 to 40 minutes. There is a focus on whole class and direct teaching though will also include group, pair and individual activities. Differentiation by task should be selective. As with the Literacy Hour, the National Numeracy Strategy ends with a 10-15 minute plenary in which learning and outcomes are shared and misconcepts are sorted out.
“Does this mean the whole weekend is engulfed in planning?” I hear you cry. Most probably yes, but as with the Literacy Strategy I know many good things will be reaped too. Having been trialing the National Numeracy Strategy (NNS) since September 1998 I can assure you the work is worth it. I have been flabbergasted with the results and phenomenal changes I have seen. The focus on mental work and strategies has resulted in speed, accuracy, method and an ability to predict and check answers. The children now respond with a variety of methods when posed with a problem. They are more able to reason about their methods and compare strategies.
While it is true that formal HTU recording has been hindered, the children have adopted their own methods and used them with far greater accuracy, always backed up with mental calculations.