St Bridget’s assistant head Ryan Neal explains why he loves Maths — No Problem!
Before we implemented the Maths — No Problem! programme, our maths standards were actually quite good and our attainment was usually high. But it didn’t feel right in terms of teacher workload.
Most teachers aren’t maths specialists, so expecting staff to create each lesson with little resources and subject expertise stretches teacher workload to its breaking point.
With MNP’s framework of techniques, classroom resources and training, teachers have more time to think about their questioning and the pivot points in the lesson. Not only has it been more effective, but teachers also have a clearer sense of where the kids are at in their learning.
I can’t sing the praises of MNP’s online resources highly enough. Each resource has shined in different phases for us, but the online component was what gave staff the confidence to really kick on with it.
Knowing those resources were there, especially for the first year or two, was very much a buoyancy aid for teachers getting used to the programme. I’ve even used them for meetings with parents to demonstrate the process.
Rather than having to find the right problem to download or the right topic to talk about that day, it’s all there, researched, refined and ready. Teachers aren’t stressed about speeding through the maths.
Instead, they’re trusting the reasoning behind each problem. They’ve seen how steps in the textbook that might seem relatively simple become absolutely key for pupils’ confidence and understanding when they make the bigger conceptual leaps further down the road.
You can walk around our school now, go to 20 maths classes and be confident that there’s good learning and engagement. All of a sudden they are talking about maths teaching with excitement.
The approach is child-led, which is a wholesale change in how we used to look at teaching.
Even though the teacher knows where the lesson is going and guides it with strategic questions and support, the children genuinely believe they are determining the lesson; that they’re driving the lesson and coming up with each method to solve the maths problems as they come.
They feel like mathematicians now. They feel like they’re doing it and discovering it rather than simply being spoken to – or spoken at.
And because they feel more in control of their learning, they’re more active in their lessons.
Historically, when a child struggled with completing a lesson, we used to think, “OK, they’re not working at this level, let’s give them something else.”
After one year of implementing the MNP approach, we got rid of all that. We used to have a top set and a lower set, but the overlap by the end of the first year in terms of data and results was staggering.
Kids going into that year group might not have had access to half the maths that they did because we assumed they couldn’t. We’re to the point now where it’s shifted all of our mindsets.
Children are secure in that classroom. They learn that it’s OK to make a mistake, to try and change their approach. Once that mentality takes hold, you’re no longer surprised that the kids are flying.
People really need to understand is the years of theory, research and refinement that went into the training, textbooks, workbooks… the entire programme. When I go through it with teachers and parents, there’s no debate.
It’s just common sense teaching. We’ve even applied parts of it like journaling to science and grammar. It’s across several subjects now because it’s just the right approach to education. Once you’ve seen and done it, you think, “Why didn’t we do this in the first place?”
Want to see the MNP approach in action? Check out open days near you mathsnoproblem.com/ilovemnp.