Some twenty Wirral
primary schools have formed themselves into three working networks. Prior to
this present round of Project Planning, representatives from the network
schools have met in order to make plans for their collaborative work. In each
case this has included the decision to address issues associated with the
teaching of mathematics. The Millfields
Network features six schools.
This Project was
designed to address pupils' abilities to apply mathematics for calculation and
problem solving. Investigations into
children's attainments revealed difficulties experienced by children in solving
word problems. Attention needs also to
be given to children's attitudes to this work - for example, confidence and
enjoyment. The study needs also to consider target setting in order to ensure
that they are sufficiently challenging.
the taught element of the course were representatives of a range of schools
within the Millfields network. Most were
mathematics subject leaders and most were teaching in Key Stage 1. The
management of change and a focus on early problem solving and development were
therefore foci of the course.
The sessions were
all supported by a wide range of resources and teaching support materials
(videos, presentations etc.) and each session included challenging mathematical
activities that could be used at the teachers own level as well as being used
for starting activities for use in school.
Ahmed, (1987), states that mathematical problem solving is more effective
when teachers themselves engage in the process.
He suggests that teachers attain a personal perspective of achievement
and development which makes their teaching more successful.
Activities for use
with children in teachers' schools provided a framework for discussion and
analysis and teachers' presentations of their achievements in the classroom
were a feature of the sessions.
There were clear
indications that the "government agenda" was a paramount motivating influence
within the programme with a desire expressed by most teachers that SATs results
would show a measurable improvement in those areas designated as "problem
solving". However, it was also apparent
that teachers felt that an "algorithmic" approach to "algorithmic" problem
solving was unsatisfactory in terms of children's learning and that the
practice of rehearsing children for SATs was inappropriate. Despite this all teachers agreed that they
would continue to do "practice SATs" and "teach" approaches to SATs problems to
ensure the success of their pupils in this regard. Whilst they agreed in principle that
mathematical problem solving was "at the heart of mathematics" (Cockcroft,
1982), and true mathematical problem solving was not reflected in the SATs they
stated that they did not feel that they could ignore the implications of
indifferent SATs results and the implications of these for inspection.