Development of Materials
The student materials are based on the Improving Learning in Mathematics resources (the Standards Unit). These resources have been widely used in mathematics classrooms across England, and have received numerous accolades.
Improving Learning in Mathematics builds on existing successful practice and explores approaches that encourage a more active way of learning through the use of group work, discussion and open questioning. Learners are encouraged to ‘have a go’, become more independent and reflective about their mathematics, to learn to think mathematically rather than simply learning rules and most importantly, to enjoy their mathematics.
Although the Standards Unit resources are valuable in their own right, they were not specifically designed for students re-sitting their GCSE. Such classrooms are dominated by students with negative attitudes towards mathematics. This was confirmed by the design team, when they asked students about their school experiences of mathematics.
I just do it that way because that’s what my teacher told me to do
I had so many maths teachers in Year 11 I never knew which method to follow
I hate maths. It doesn’t make sense
We never talked about methods– just copied them from the board
To change such engrained attitudes, students need to experience something different in the classroom. Teachers also need something different – a different type of professional development that will provide them with strategies to support such students: strategies that will help students engage, and develop their mathematical thinking, and most of all strategies to help students overcome their anxiety towards mathematics, and perception that they are ‘just no good at it’.
The Maths-for-Life resources were developed specifically in response to this need. They were trialled over the course of a year by 20 Further Education teachers from around England. The teachers regularly planned the lessons together, observed each other teaching the lessons, and met with the team at the University of Nottingham to discuss how the resources could be revised. Emerging from the iterative design process is a set of resources fit for purpose. Shaped by practising teachers who face, on a daily basis, the realities of resit students, and a design team at the University, the resources attempt to solve meaningful problems of teaching.