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Sum hope

Who went?

Joy Garvey, an Advanced Skills Teacher at Tolworth Junior School, Surbiton.

What course?

Helping dyscalculics at key stages 1 and 2, run by Beam (a specialist mathematics education publisher).

What did it do?

Dyscalculia is similar to dyslexia but refers to problems with numeracy rather than literacy. There was advice on how to recognise dyscalculics, and how best to support them.

Why go?

There has been a lot of new research in this area and I wanted an update.

We have quite a lot of low-achieving children and we are always looking for ways to help them.

Message, motto or mantra?

Don't generalise. You need to identify accurately each child's specific problem -and there are diagnostic tools to do that.

Handouts or hands-on?

The first session was background information. Later, we looked at ideas and resources to use in lessons.

Something I liked It was great to hear someone acknowledging that these children exist, and that they need our help. Compared with dyslexia, I think dyscalculia still has a low profile.

Something I learned

It's important to make lessons as visual as possible. I was particularly impressed with Numicon materials (www.numicon.com). They are basically colourful blocks of plastic, but they make maths more tactile and fun.

Has it made a difference?

I've given a talk to the rest of the staff, and am now steadily drip-feeding new ideas into the system.

The verdict?

All primary schools have children who struggle with maths. This course offers practical ways of helping them, and it's run by a leading expert in the field

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