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Assessment, Curriculum, Thursday Thunks

New Year: Quick Starts, Gaps Filled #ThursdayThunk

This was one of those six and a half week summers that comes around every now and again; where has it gone?  The last academic term ended in an absolute furore over the new Key Stage 2 SATs and dashed hopes that the policy of retesting those pupils who had “failed” the SATs, at the end of primary school, was disappearing into the long grass.

Photo Credit: Gian Luigi Perrella via Flickr cc

Photo Credit: Gian Luigi Perrella via Flickr cc

Recent governments’ twin strategy approach to the profession: diktat followed by a hammering over the head with some new test and an accountability measure seemed alive and well.  There’s always a danger that we react to this type of approach by ignoring the obvious and sensible.  If children leave primary school not knowing something important, we need to reteach it and then assess to make sure they do now.

Secondary schools will have their first cohorts of children arriving with scaled scores.  It’s important to understand that whilst “passing” or “meeting the expected standard” meant a pupil had to attain a scaled score of 100+ there will be very little difference between pupils with a scaled score of 99 versus 101.  We’ve decided that we will need to give some pupils additional support in Mathematics (and English) beyond their usual lessons but have yet to determine exactly where the cut-off point will come for this withdrawal group.  The aim is to complete the catch up with as many pupils as possible by the end of the first term.

To that end we (by that I mean Heather our Trust Maths Lead and Simon @MathsMrCox) have got the transition catch up units all ready to teach.  There’s a pre-assessment to determine exactly what areas the pupils are/are not secure in, definitions of excellence in each strand from early years to Year 8, details schemes of learning that track back to Year 5 as their starting point, end of unit assessments and a simple recording grid.  The Mathematics catch up units are outlined below and there is a copy of the detailed scheme for Number & Place Value underneath:

Number and Place Value

  • Have a secure understanding of the number system and recognise place value of numbers up to 10 million (including decimals).
  • Partition numbers in different ways (including decimals)
  • Order and compare whole numbers and decimals
  • Multiply and divide whole numbers and decimals by 10 and 100 and understand the effect this has on numbers.
  • Have a secure understanding of negative numbers and apply this in a range of contexts.

Calculating using all four operations (must comply with trust calculations policy and include calculating with decimals).  Throughout this it is also important to give children opportunity to develop mental calculation skills as well as formal written methods.

  • Addition and subtraction
  • Multiplication and division


  • Understanding of what a fraction is
  • Finding fractions of quantities (link to division)
  • Equivalent fractions (and decimals)
  • Placement on a number line
  • Calculating with fractions


  • Lines/angles (secure use of a ruler and protractor)
  • Telling the time

Year 7 Intervention number and place value – PDF

Find out what pupils don’t know or can’t do and teach them it.  Fill the gaps, do it quickly; pupils’ future learning depends on it.  This basic approach arguably applies to every subject, every lesson and the end of every year as well as key transition points.  No need for a diktat and big accountability stick, just allow us to get on with teaching pupils well.  How will you help pupils in your classes get a quick start, this year whilst making sure their gaps in knowledge are filled?

#ThursdayThunk is based on something I’ve been thinking about, discussing, working on or has been topical that week.  The thunk is designed to be bite sized and will deliberately be kept short.  It will take one small issue or an aspect of something much bigger.  The intention is for it to be read in two/three minutes as you’re busy running around at the end of the week or relaxing on your day off.



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