Although teachers of mathematics are increasingly in short supply, there is no shortage of good software and no respite in website growth. This happy situation looks likely to continue for a while under the impetus of the Numeracy Strategy and as the NOF-funded ICT training makes teachers increasingly confident about using the software.
Learning systems are expensive and you need to consider carefully whether your pupils will be able to have the regular practice (daily is ideal) to make best use of them. But I have no hesitation in continuing to recommend RM Maths for primary schools and Headstart Maths for key stage 4 students in secondary schools. RM Maths has been extended in scope, with material now up to level 4. It is also now possible to easily identify which of the maths skills in the course support the Numeracy Framework objectives. The teacher's management system continues to be one of the easiest to use.
I praised Headstart when I reviewed it in January and feedback from schools continues to be positive. Some teachers recently told me it was responsible for increased key stage 3 SATs results, even though it is intended for more advanced students! Exam questions from Edexcel and WJEC have recently been added to the system.
Somewhat cheaper, but also with a good management system that records pupil progress is the series of BBC Maths Workshop CDs from Logotron. They cover Number, Calculation and Measures. The presentation is attractive and pupils are given well-judged help when necessary.
For key stage 2, the Maths Explorer series from Granada provides good reinforcement of concepts in interesting and challenging settings. Shape and Space for instance is set in a medieval castle. Journey to Swallow Farm (KS2) also uses an interactive adventure to develop most numeracy concepts. These programs are also useful in key stage 3. Developing Number from ATM contains three programs which explore the foundations of number skills. Enriching Number from SMILE also has three programs, which focus on fractions, decimals, percentages and mental division, for key stages 2-4.
I also believe that using LOGO is still a very useful way of developing concepts and encouraging thinking skills. Microworlds Pro is one of the best ways of harnessing the power of LOGO to develop ideas. At secondary level, Omnigraph is essential for developing ideas about graphs and exploring the links between algebra and graphial representations. A dynamic geometry program such as Geometry Inventor is an excellent use of ICT which helps students to explore points, lines and distances.
Turning to the Internet, MathsNet and Nrich are excellent sites for both teachers and pupils. They contain teaching ideas, puzzles, games and good lists of links to other maths sites. Teacher Wizard has useful lists of resources for both primary and secondary teachers. The 'Count Me In' campaign run by the BBC, fronted by Patsy Palmer, has an entertaining site with interesting activities. Maths Lessons offers both tutorial and testing material for level 4 and upward. The sites run by the two professional associations (isn't a merger long overdue?) are not quite as slick as the others here, but they do both offer teaching ideas and free software. The ATM site is particularly good if you are looking for ideas for using LOGO. Finally there are plenty of games and puzzles on Maze Works, which uses Java, and Numeracy Resources, which uses Flash technology.
Ian Wilson is headteacher of Rydens School, Walton-on-Thames Software RM Maths Price: pound;495 per single user licence Tel: 01235 826000 www.rm.comHeadstart GCSE Maths Price: pound;150 per workstation or pound;5,550 site licenceTel: 01978 810000 www.headstartsoftware.co.ukMaths Explorer series from Granada Price: from pound;49 Tel: 0161 827 2927 www.granada-learning.co.ukEnriching Number from SMILE Price: pound;25 single user, pound;100 more than 50 usersTel: 020 7598 4841 www.rmplc.co.ukorgssmileindex.htmlDeveloping Number from ATM Price: pound;49.95 single user, pound;145 site licenceTel: 01332 346599www.atm.org.ukMicroworlds Pro from TAG Price: pound;89 single-user, pound;1159 site licenceGeometry Inventor also from TAG Price: pound;79.95 single user: pound;769 network licenceTel: 0800 591 262 http:tagdev.co.ukOmnigraph 2 can be ordered from REM Price: pound;42 www.r-e-m.co.ukJourney to Swallow Farm from Aircom Price: pound;14.99 Tel: 01737 224434www.aircom.co.ukeducationBBC Maths Workshop from Logotron Price: pound;49 Tel: 01223 425558 www.logo.comUseful websites MathsNet www.anglia.co.ukeducationmathsnetMaths Lessons www.mathslessons.co.ukCount Me Inwww.bbc.co.ukeducationcountmeinMaze Workswww.mazeworks.co.ukNumeracy Resourceswww.numeracyresources.co.ukNrichwww.nrich.maths.org.ukTeacher Wizardwww.teacherwizard.co.ukNumeracy Framework www.standardsdfee.gov.uknumeracyAssociation of Teachers of Mathswww.atm.org.ukMathematical Associationwww.m-a.org.uk