Crunch time in numbers game;Letter;Opinion

9th July 1999 at 01:00
HAVING attended a three-day numeracy training programme managed by Reading Unitary Authority, my maths co-ordinator, another teacher, a parent governor and I all returned to school most enthused by the strategy and encouraged by the practice promoted in the training materials.

At last! We felt maths had been clarified and organised for all schools, not just those who had the benefit of an expert maths co-ordinator. (And heaven help those secondary schools who now fail to acknowledge the content and attainment of its feeder primary pupils).

Everything had been done to help hard-pressed teachers and yet there was still flexibility. And yes, we did discuss important educational issues such as classroom organisation, how children learn mathematics, planning and so on. Our training was very skilfully delivered by Viv Davies, a maths specialist working part-time for Reading. Perhaps this is the key issue? Any training package, no matter how good, also needs a knowledgeable and sensitive delivery. As a passionate ex-maths co-ordinator and now a headteacher, I thoroughly enjoyed re-focusing myself on curriculum matters, rather than finance, contracts and drains! The numeracy strategy seems to have an excellent training package for all staff, whatever their experience.

Our next numeracy training day, held last week with other schools (also organised by Reading LEA) was for every teacher in school, thus avoiding the dreaded "cascade scenario". The staff had done some preparation previously, supported by our co-ordinator, and found the day to be particularly helpful.

We did have discussion opportunities, but did not need to be convinced - we could see that it was good - reflecting best effective practice and providing cross-curricular advice on many issues, such as group work and monitoring. The training package was succinct, clear, well-organised, thought-provoking and stimulated many new ideas for a maths week next year.

The numeracy strategy underlined our professional judgment and gave us renewed confidence. I know we were not the only school in Reading to experience this feeling.

Perhaps Jenny Smith (TES letters, June 11) should talk frankly to her local authority about how it plans to develop and support its schools and the professional judgments therein? The numeracy strategy may be very good but it cannot also be responsible for how the training is delivered.

Chris Tomkins Caversham primary Hemdean Road Caversham Reading

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