Specifically developed as a response to the introduction of the new curriculum from September 2014, Busy Ant Maths from Collins has been designed as a shiny, brand new, whole-school maths programme. Rather than tinkering around with an existing scheme of work, a clever bunch of mathematicians (led by maths expert, Peter Clarke) has approached the new 2014 curriculum with a completely blank slate and created an easy-to-use, cohesive programme that will ensure any school can approach mathematics this coming September with confidence.
Busy Ant Maths clearly addresses the higher, rigorous expectation of the new curriculum and is packed full of games, activities and challenges that should ensure that every child is engaged and able to make good progress.
The materials comprise clearly written and structured teachers’ guides that include both medium-term plans that reflect the long-term targets set out by the 2014 NC and daily individual lesson plans that are set out in a consistent 4-part structure throughout the whole-school programme. These form an easy-to-use platform that teachers can work from to ensure conceptual understanding and increase mathematical fluency in all areas.
Through the use of both these and the Collins Connect online learning platform, teachers can access a wide range of resources. Adaptable planning grids enable the scheme to be tailored to suit individual schools and a wealth of online and printable activities, differentiated worksheets and engaging levelled games are available. Printed pupil books complement the online/printed resources and have three levels of challenges for each lesson so that all children can access the learning effectively. The level of differentiation contained with all of these resources is impressive and through the use of targeted progress check questions, teachers are able to ascertain quite quickly whether their pupils fully understand the relevant mathematical concepts. Busy Ant Games form a very exciting and enjoyable way that pupils can work on their mathematical skills and challenge themselves further.
A range of support and extension materials to aid pupils further is available and Collins has planned this scheme around a system that includes four lessons per week plus another for consolidation or extension that can be slotted into the week wherever it fits best for that class. Included within each lesson plan is a really useful ‘overcoming barriers’ section, which helps teachers to target common mathematical misunderstandings. Linked homework activities check children’s understanding of the learning objectives and give opportunities for consolidation, and extensions are also included.
Assessment is at the heart of this resource and Busy Ant Maths, in my opinion, has created an approach which is manageable and meaningful – something that other schemes of work or school-created systems often don’t achieve. There are shared success criteria for each lesson, and formative assessment tasks that can be used to identify pupils that need extra support. The very helpful ‘End of Year Class Evaluation document’ helps the class teacher to draw together data gathered throughout the year and would be a really useful tool for setting targets. Accessing assessment tools via the Collins Connect online learning platform, teachers are able to store and analyse whole class and whole school information.
What strikes me with Busy Ant Maths is how visually appealing it is. The online Collins Connect resources are simple to access, the Busy Ant Games and online activities are colourful and attractive and the pupil books are minimal in design – with crisp white backgrounds and bright and appealing images that don’t detract from the maths.
This is a scheme of work that makes sense, gives pupils a consistently structured yet fun approach and will enable teachers to deliver an exciting and inspiring new curriculum from September 2014.