Something to smile about

26th April 2013 at 01:00

I am surprised that in his comments on the classroom methods in England and US ("All the way from America", Cover story, 12 April), Dylan Wiliam does not mention the pedagogy evolved by a group of London maths teachers in the 1970s. When Professor Wiliam first taught at an inner-London comprehensive, the maths department in which he worked was part of the Smile project. Smile (secondary mathematics inclusive learning experience) is a set of mathematical activities devised by teachers working together with the support of the local authority to create a maths curriculum for use in their own classrooms.

In Smile classrooms, each child has their own programme of work, much of which they tackle individually - discussing it with a neighbour if they choose - but there are also group activities and the occasional whole-class project. Through their writing, discussions and planning, the original Smile teachers deepened their understanding of maths and developed their pedagogical skills.

The majority of the Smile materials are now available to anyone at the National STEM Centre at the University of York. If you want to improve the teaching and learning of maths in your school I suggest you look to York rather than across the pond.

Rachel Gibbons, Retired inspector, Inner London Education Authority, Hove.

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