Ever found challenging and extending your most able Key Stage 2 mathematicians tricky? Unclear of the next steps to advance learning into level 6 territory? Wishing to prepare students of the level 6 maths SAT? If so, Collins Primary Focus: Level 6 Maths Course could be a godsend!
The materials consist of a spiral bound teacher’s guide with an editable CD-ROM and an accompanying pupil book. It is designed to be used in group sessions, where all the children are already working as secure level 5s in maths. The beauty of the course is that it does much of the hard prep. work for you and leaves you (or perhaps a confident HLTA) with the time to focus on the children.
The teacher book is excellent at instilling confidence and highlighting key learning points; the appropriate methods for each calculation are detailed with examples before the group session outline is laid out complete with activities, key question prompts and guide to timings. The structure of each group session is identical; whilst that may prove to be monotonous over time, it certainly makes delivering the sessions easy and the sheer challenge of the material should be enough to keep the able learners on board. The teacher guide ends with practice test papers, giving pupils another opportunity to prepare for the Level 6 Maths SAT in line with the 2014 SAT arrangements.
To support the delivery of the lesson, each session is accompanied with a Powerpoint presentation that covers all the lesson material including discussion prompts. Effort has been made to make the examples as relevant to real life situations as possible and the layout and colours are used consistently in line with the pupil books to reinforce the structure of the sessions. Pictures and diagrams reinforce understanding and to some extent break up text heavy slides. It is fortunate that the slides are editable, as they could easily become a set of ‘read the powerpoint and answer the questions’ sessions. When using the materials, I would definitely alter the slides, keeping the examples the same, but breaking material into bullet points and use the originals as notes for myself.
The pupil book is designed to reinforce the learning from the teacher led section of the session; it is attractive and consistent in layout with colour facilitating navigation of materials. Following a contents page, there are four progression maps, outlining each skill at level 5 and how this translates into level 6. The remainder of the book is divided into the four key areas of mathematics, each broken down into units consisting of a double page spread. Helpfully each unit opens with a key vocabulary list; then recaps on level 5 material, giving some opportunity to reinforce understanding with examples to complete; before focussing on level 6. Common pitfalls are highlighted in a green box at the top of each pupil exercise section. The pupil books are very useable, one small suggestion for improvement would be a glossary of the mathematical terms for pupil self-referral.
Like a true Shakespearean tragic hero, the biggest strength of this resource is also its potential weakness. It is prescriptive, which makes delivering the material very easy, however, without careful thought on how it is used, it could end up being tedious. The skill in avoiding that, as ever, lies with a good teacher!
Overall, this is a practicable course for stretching our most able Primary pupils and could provide a post SAT challenge to able learners, preparing them for key stage 3.