Bridging the maths gap

23rd March 2001 at 00:00
Schools have traditionally tried to bridge the transition from primary to secondary education through pastoral work. Now a local authority-run project, aptly named Building Bridges, has brought teachers from both phases together to address maths teaching and make the transition smoother for pupils.

Three secondary schools and 10 feeder primaries were involved in the project. In addition to the secondary maths specialists and Year 6 teachers coming together for a training day, the primary staff also used secondary-style exercise books with their pupils in the summer term. This gave the secondary teachers a better understanding of their colleagues' professional judgements as well as up-to-the-minute evidence of pupils' attainment.

Pupil data was sent electronically from primary to secondary schools and a series of teacher visits and maths summer schools were held for Year 6 pupils. Throughout theproject, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority's Building Bridges maths materials were used with the pupils.

Although secondary teachers saw the move from primary as the time for a fresh start, and primary teachers felt overwhelmed with the work entailed in getting children through the SATs, both sets of professionals were positive about the links they had made.

Primary teachers felt it provided Year 6 pupils with a rite of passage that was otherwise missing and, in particular, that it provided challenges for higher-ability pupils.

Secondary teachers found pupils were more confident when they entered their new school. Just as importantly, both groups reported that working collaboratively helped to break down mutual distrust.

Transcending the Transition from Key Stage Two to Three: Some issues, initiatives and comparisons by Linda Fursland, Bath Spa University College

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