Two new primary maths schemes have joined the list of those claiming to match the new framework. In each case, the materials for one school year are available now with others to follow.
The New Heinemann Maths (NHM) Teaching File is attractively presented and easy to use, thanks to clearly labelled section dividers and helpful cross-referencing. It provides three-part lesson suggestions linked to specific teaching objectives without attempting to prescribe the programming.
Each sample lesson has a proposed mental and oral starter (called "tune-ins"), which are supplemented with examples linked to specific facts and skills. The guidance includes some interesting and creative ideas, promotes interactive teaching and provides links to extension activities, although these are frequently limited.
Assessment exercises and follow-ups are suggested and some of these could be used to assess whole-class understanding at the end of a lesson. But, in general, guidance on a concluding plenary is thin.
Teachers will find the homework ideas and resource sheets useful, as they will the Organising and Planning guide, which includes sample medium-term plans in a range of formats. These cross-reference framework objectives with NHM resources. The six pupil's booklets for Year 2 are disposable and will be familiar in style and content to anyone used to SPMG materials.
Numeracy Focus also has a series of comprehensive teacher's files at its core. Framework objectives are divided into weekly units of work, which, in theory, can be ordered by the teacher, although a medium-term plan is suggested.
Three daily plans are offered for each unit, with an additional bank of activities. These should encourage effective, personalised lessons, although better indexing and labelling would help. The activities are interesting and appropriate. Attention is paid to managing differentiation but, as with most schemes, there is little guidance on using the materials in mixed-age classes. The files also contain half-termly aural and written tests.
Additional materials for Year 3 pupils include a Class Focus book for use during whole-class teaching, a Practice Book of Exercises and a personal Maths Diary. For the teacher, an interesting Problem of the Week booklet provides a "bigger", often more investigative, problem for each unit, which could enrich the single lesson activities. Activity support sheets and homework sheets are provided in photocopiable form. These latter, disappointingly, consist mainly of closed exercises (which will need marking) and do little to engage parents or carers in activities at home.
These schemes are an improvement on some of their recent predecessors because their approach to planning acknowledges the essential teacher's role in ensuring that lessons are tailored to each class. Although complex, they offer a rich range of ideas for teachers to exploit in their classrooms. But neither satisfactorily provides effective support for linking assessment to planning as the strategy emphasises.
Linton Waters Linton Waters is Shropshire county maths adviser