Living with numbers

11th February 2000 at 00:00
As RM launches version 3 of its maths system, Chris Drage sees why teachers might find it much more numeracy-friendly

RM Maths Learning system is designed to work alongside the numeracy strategy being used in any primary school, helping pupils to develop the core skills in mental numeracy including the ability to: use a range of mental calculation strategies; identify and describe patterns in number; use mathematical language; judge whether answers are reasonable; make sensible estimates of measurements. Indeed, RM claims the system shares a set of common goals with the National Numeracy Strategy:

* Developing number sense * Emphasising mental fluency * Encouraging use of a range of strategies in mental calculations * Encouraging pupils to learn number bonds, multiplication tables and doubles and halves * Demonstrate that known facts can be used to figure out new facts * Encouraging use of mathematical vocabulary * Providing strategies for judging whether answers are reasonable and for checking them where necessary * Developing an understanding of the commutative, associative and distributive properties * Covering number, shape and space and data-handling but with an emphasis on number.

The latest version contains the final small section of education content, taking RM Maths right through to level 4 of the national curriculum in number, data-handling and shape and space. It also has a numeracy report, specially designed to report the progress and problems of idividuals or groups of pupils using the software against the national numeracy framework objectives.

It now offers teachers an accurate view of how a child has performed in relation to each numeracy framework key objective, for use in assessment, planning and target setting. Pupils using RM Maths are able to keep their skills in a range of topics "simmering" which will help them sustain knowledge for the next time it is addressed in class. Similarly, with the increased confidence and motivation, RM Maths can help pupils to become more involved in the lesson activities. In my opinion, this is where the system scores particularly well.

As you can use RM Maths outside the daily maths lesson, it can assist the teacher in keeping the whole class together. Like all ILS-type systems, it is how it's used which frequently dictates its overall success. My advice is, if possible, see it in action first as it represents a large slice of the software budget and schools would need to feel totally committed before parting with the necessary cash.

If it is as successful as RM's SuccessMaker Maths is in my college then you will see less-able pupils making substantial gains.

RM Maths Learning SystemRequires Windows 95 or 98, 16MB of RAM and 250MB of free hard disk space. Prices: Standalone - single user pound;495; classroom pack (3) pound;1,150Tel: 0870 908

Online star rating Suitability for purpose ****

Ease of use ****

Value for money ****

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