This is an example of the governors in their supporting and monitoring role.
Last summer our first Year 6 sat their end of Key Stage tests. Some of us went in to see how they coped. We saw that they had been well prepared psychologically – ‘exam stress’ was not an issue – but we realised that the children were struggling with the problem-based Maths papers. Just how badly they had struggled became clear a few weeks later when the results came out. The Chair was in the next day and found that an in-depth analysis was already in progress. A breakdown of the answers showed that the children had been OK with the straight sums questions, but had had difficulty with the written problems, especially if English was not their first language. We needed to rethink how we taught Maths.
At a governing body meeting a few weeks later, the Head talked us through the issues and proposed that we adopt the Maths No Problem approach, across the whole school. There would be a cost of around £10,000 for the materials. Was this the best way to spend £10,000 to improve Maths? Were there any more cost-effective alternatives? After discussion, we approved the extra spending, and materials were ordered, ready for the Autumn term.
We have been monitoring the introduction and use of the new scheme. Governors have sat in on training sessions with staff; the Maths leader has given a presentation to governors, and will be back to report further later in the year; governors have been into classrooms to see the scheme in action and talk to children. The initial phase has been very encouraging. Teachers feel that the children are making better progress, and the children are showing a greater engagement with Maths – and we hear that parents are being challenged by it too.
We will be coming back to look at different aspects of the new Maths scheme, and its impact, throughout the year. At the time of writing, we are about to survey parents to get more feedback on this, and governors will be involved in the progress reviews later this term. We hope to be able to report a significant improvement of our Year 6 results next summer.