Primary Headteacher’s Update

Nearly 50 HTs and Senior Leaders from across the country joined us at last month’s HT update. As one HT said:

The briefing is so very useful as you get succinct messages which you can start working on directly. 

HT – Bradford

We feel that we represent great value for money as participants leave with key questions to discuss with their subject leads for English, Mathematics, Science and PE as well as useful reminders about statutory assessment. It’s always great to work with this fabulous and talented group of tutors as well.

Our next virtual meeting is on 1 December 2021 and you are most welcome to join us without the need to get in your car and navigate your way to an unfamiliar venue. To book your place, email: mobile: 07715 884188

Catch-up training

It’s been a very challenging term for everyone and it’s been a very steep learning curve learning to deliver virtual CPD. I’ve delivered the primary mathematics to various clusters and groups within Staffordshire and beyond. It may not have been easy to attend so you might be interested in my catch up recording of the session. Download and watch at your convenience (with a cup of tea and mince pie). Of course if you prefer me to invoice you, that’s no problem, contact me for details.

We also was able to provide a one stop catch-up of updates for English, Mathematics, Science, Assessment, PE and SEND. This is amazing value at £50 for the recording and all supporting documents. Watch this to hear suggestions on how to work with your Subject Leaders and develop these areas within your school. Visit Accelerate Learning Services to purchase this recording.

New Skills during Covid 19

This strange situation that we all find ourselves in have I suppose had some advantages….. I try to look for the positives! We are all learning new skills – whether it be baking banana bread or growing vegetables. This lockdown has given me the opportunity to learn new skills. I had never even heard of Zoom in February but now I’m trying to get be head around scheduling meetings and organising breakout rooms! My network meetings will be taking place virtually and I’m looking forward to ‘seeing’ you all.

Another new skills I have been acquiring is the use of Padlet. This was in response to a subject leader contacting me about CPD for her staff during this terrible situation. I’ve organised some ideas which you may wish to share with your staff. Password: MATHS

Summer Primary Network Meetings

It was great to catch up with mathematics subject leaders during the summer term. For me, it is great that we are really focusing on mathematical pedagogy and leaders were able to celebrate their achievements and acknowledge their next steps. We discussed the 2019 key stage 1 and 2 SAT questions that caused confusion, disbelief and a range of other emotions. the early algebra of this key stage 1 questions intrigued me. Many schools who have used Solve Emoji said there children were not phased by this.

Of course, I had to pick Adam and his rectangle as this caused a huge furore on Twitter. This question split the room; love it or hate it. A great question to use in the classroom to discuss strategies and explore other rectangles.

We discussed children’s and teacher’s responses to the Multiplication Tables Check (MTC). Many teachers feel that Times Tables Rockstars (TTR) is making a real difference to children’s recall of times tables facts and was the most popular initiative that leaders celebrated.

As usual we have explored what’s happening in White Rose Land and no subject leader meeting would miss the opportunity to discuss all things Numberblocks. As one Cannock subject leader said to me “all you seem to do is watch Numberblocks and play with Playdoh!”

Such is the life of a maths consultant. 🙂

Dates for the autumn term are being finalised and meetings will be ready to book in September. Have a great summer holiday and don’t forget to look for something mathematical and take a picture of it,

Network Meetings – Now booking!

Inspiring Maths works in conjunction with Jenny Hart, Karen Lawley and Wendy Precious to deliver termly network meetings in Burton, Tamworth and Lichfield to develop and inform subject leadership in English, maths and science. These affordable and valuable meetings will inform subject leaders about the latest national and local developments and give a real opportunity to network and share practice at a cost of £50 per person.  Contact me for more details. We will encourage reflection on your own setting and your next steps. Click on the location for dates and times.

TAMWORTH Spring 2019

LICHFIELD Spring 2019

BURTON Spring 2019

Times Tables

Many schools are targeting times tables recall this year with the potential opportunity to trial the Multiplication Tables Check (MTC) this academic year before it becomes statutory in summer 2020.

I’ve been delivering Times Tables CPD in schools this term and reminding colleagues about the importance of the teaching of times tables sitting alongside the testing of times tables. Many schools are buying into TTR – Times Tables Rockstars – which is a real motivator for many children to develop their quick recall.

But let’s remember about teaching time tables as well, thinking about the key teaching points of repeated addition, commutativity, related facts, inverse and fact families. Using manipulatives can highlighted many of these key features.

I have also been showing the ATM clip of Jill Mansergh teaching a large group of student teachers the x17 tables. My delegates have been watching this open mouthed, often reluctant to join in at first then unable to resist by the end. One teacher asked a great question after watching it: “does it work for any table?”. We then proceeded to practice with a counting stick using the table of their choice (most chose x7). If you have never seen this clip or haven’t for a long time, I strongly advise that you look it up on YouTube

Interested in finding out more….

For more details and to book your place, please visit:


Seeking out the maths …..


I’ve spent this summer in Portugal travelling from north to south. It’s really amazing just how much mathematics you do encounter along the way when you’re looking with your ‘maths eyes’. There is a great deal of Moorish architecture in both Portugal and Spain and the Portuguese were great explorers and mathematicians. I just love the fact that a city, in this case Coimbra near Porto, has a ‘Mathematical Road’.

So I’m always on the lookout for mathematical images and interesting stimuli that I can use as part of CPD. I think they can also form a great (and easy) working wall with pupils encouraged to contribute their mathematical questions via post-it notes. Pupils can then follow a line of inquiry that is of interest to them. Sometimes there isn’t an answer and that’s ok too.


Pictures are a great stimulus for mathematical discussion and differentiation can be achieved vary easily by varying the complexity of the question posed or discussed.

Tiling and architecture are often symmetrical and provide a good starting point. The top left is a window that demonstrates both reflective and rotational symmetry. On the lower right, we could discuss repeating patterns, sequences, arrays or symmetry. On the lower left, we have a tessellation and could discuss angles and therefore the properties of shapes.

On the top right is a great grate that I happened across in Sintra, near Lisbon and couldn’t resist taking a photo of it. Assuming that the triangles are contained within a square, what other angles can you calculate? What other assumptions have you made?

Meeting a Maths Hero at Maths Hub Conference


On 5 July, I had the pleasure of delivering a workshop at the NCETM  North Midlands Peak, Central and Salop & Herefordshire Maths Hub Secondary Conference at the University of Wolverhampton, Walsall campus . My session was a highlights version of the work group work I have been carrying out this academic year on Challenging Topics at GCSE for the North Mids Maths Hub. The topic we have been exploring has bee ratio and proportion starting off with the question – “ratio and proportion, what’s the same and what’s different?”



Of course the big highlight for me was meeting my maths hero Johnny Ball so I of course couldn’t resist a selfie along with Prime Maths Solutions. Johnny is still passionate about mathematics and gave a great lecture on the history of mathematics with a couple of ideas that I can’t wait to try out with 


Visiting Student Teachers

As part of my work with Sheffield Hallam University, I have the real privilege of visiting the next generation of mathematics teachers in their host schools in South Yorkshire and Derbyshire. Each time I observe a lesson, I always learn something and it gives me the opportunity to reflect on my own teaching and CPD delivery. Today I’ve been thinking about the structure of questions offered to pupils after watching a year 7 lower set tackle the topic of algebraic substitution. Why did I use to throw more complex expressions alongside negative numbers, BIDMAS?….recipe for disaster really. It also made me consider how these Y7 pupils can be exposed to reasoning and problem solving with their newly practised skills. This very much ties in with my work as a NCETM work group lead looking at ratio and proportion and how we expose pupils to the different types of questions.

On another note, I am always amazed about the tenacity and rambunctiousness of  young people and their capacity to still make me smile. Quote from a Y8 pupil: “I don’t mean to be rude, I’m enjoying your company but who are you?”