Seen and heard;Primary;Maths Year 2000

1st October 1999 at 01:00
IMPROVING NUMERACY VIDEO. A BBC Education production for the Gatsby Technical Education Project. From: Gatsby Technical Education Project, 4-7 Red Lion Court, London EC4A 3EB. Tel: 0171 936 3759. pound;10.

Have you ever sat back during a video of a teacher interacting with a small group, muttering: "And what are the other 27 doing while she's working with those three?" Well, in this video all the children are there, all of the time.

The video devotes 30 minutes to each key stage. Both the schools used are as "real" in terms of size, urban locations and special needs as the most grizzled and sceptical viewer of classroom verite videos could desire (66 per cent and 90 per cent eligibility for free school meals respectively).

The Gatsby Trust has funded several influential projects in mathematics education in recent years. Work in education authorities such as Barking and Dagenham, Stockton and Newport has in many ways developed in parallel with the National Numeracy Strategy, so this will have a familiar ring if you have seen Teachers Count or any of the other training videos associated with the strategy.

The three-part lesson format - a mentaloral introduction, then main tasks followed by a plenary session - is demonstrated. Many teachers will also know about number cards, counting sticks, number lines and the other resources that have been demonstrated on numeracy courses.

But not all teachers have been on good quality training courses - once again, the co-ordinators andor those keen and confident about maths are the ones who seem to get the training. Even for them, this video will be valuable because, apart from a few minutes of talking heads at the start, the rest of the time is given over to watching good class teachers (at reception and Year 4), something we would all like to be able to do and seldom can.

The quality of camerawork means it is a particularly rich source for observation.

I defy anyone not to learn something from watching the wonderful Jo Beckett, who has a Year 4 class of 26, 14 of whom are on the special needs register (eight at stage 3) productively engaged in mathematics throughout.

Irresistible value for a tenner.

Laurie Rousham

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