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Wizard night for numbers

Families in Kirkintilloch have started playing number games at home after a recent parents' night at Holy Family Primary gave them a clearer view of their children's maths programme.

Each family received through the post a special, hand-made invitation to a Maths Wizard Evening to bring mums, dads and grandparents up to speed in the art of games-based learning.

The idea came from headteacher Anne Smith. In planning to introduce more games into maths oral and mental work across the school, she saw the value of extending the approach into homework.

Funds from a supported study grant enabled the school to buy a games book (Four in a Row by Ian Ward, QEd Publications, pound;15) from which teachers made up games packs with counters and so on for each child. Then older pupils worked with younger children in class time to teach them the rules of the games.

The evening was open to parents of all 325 pupils on the school roll. Local businesses supported the event with raffle prizes, including a mountain bike, to encourage pupils to bring their parents along.

Acting headteacher Frances O'Connell says the staff were "absolutely stunned" when almost 600 mums, dads and grandparents arrived, ready to play and learn maths with their children.

"It was astonishing to see a queue of parents stretching across the playground and up the stairs, waiting to come in to a parents' night," she says.

Families were ensconced in maths games throughout the school, which had been specially decorated by the children for the evening. "There were families in the gym hall, the dining hall, on the stage and in three classrooms," says Mrs O'Connell.

The event was co-ordinated by three teachers and on the night pupil councillors dressed up as maths wizards and directed operations with generous sprinklings of magic maths dust. All the class teachers were there and joined in with the family games.

"It was the best night ever, just so inclusive," says Mrs O'Connell, adding that the feedback from parents has been exceptionally positive.

"Parents felt very much at ease and obviously enjoyed learning maths through play with their children."

Parents said the evening had given them a new sense of belonging to the school and they kept their games packs to helping with their children's maths homework.

The school is now considering similar events for other curricular areas.

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