The Importance of Mathematics
Mathematics is a key part of everyday life and a fundamental part of many other subjects including science, technology, engineering and finance. It helps develop critical thinking skills such as problem solving, reasoning and conceptual understanding. Mathematics is so much more than rote learning, an approach you yourselves may have unhappy memories of from school. The enthusiasm I have for the subject I endeavour to pass on to my tutees, and one thing I have observed is that my pupils enjoy my maths classes. Creating a positive attitude to maths means children are more engaged, confidence builds, and attainment is raised.
Perhaps more pragmatically, mathematics is a subject every child has to take at GCSE, and under the current rules must keep taking until they reach at least a Grade 4 at GCSE. It is also a key requirement of most further education qualifications and many jobs. It is therefore a subject we need to ensure our children achieve their best.
The benefits of Mathematics Tuition
- For children who struggle with maths: tuition can provide the opportunity for concepts to be reinforced and consolidated; new concepts can be taught in a safe environment where pupils have the confidence to ask questions and get the support they need; and gaps in learning can be identified and addressed.
- For pupils coasting in the middle groups: it provides the opportunity to learn more challenging concepts through focussed teaching, enabling pupils to move up to higher groups where they can achieve their best.
- Tuition provides the challenge needed to stretch the more confident mathematicians, and ensure they reach their maximum potential.
The Impact of the Pandemic
Due to the recent school closures of the pandemic, maths tuition has become more important than ever before. For many parents it was one of the most difficult subjects to support their children in as either they were not confident themselves, or because maths is taught differently now from when they were at school.
Hence, many children will have knowledge gaps and it is essential that these are addressed otherwise in following years children may struggle. The maths National Curriculum is structured so that a range of different recurring concepts are taught and revisited periodically, getting steadily more challenging as pupils progress through the year groups. If there are gaps in learning in one year, when the same topic is revisited in following years at a more challenging level, children can quickly become very confused, begin to find maths overwhelming and lose confidence.
Helping each child reach their full academic potential and confidence boosting are key goals of my lessons. Focusing on the needs of each individual child is my priority. Lessons are taught in small groups, with a maximum of four to a class. Groups are made up of pupils from the same year group, who are working at a similar level. My planning takes each pupil’s individual ability into account, and work is differentiated within a small group to ensure a very personal learning experience.
Prior to grouping tutees, I do an initial individual assessment (at the same rate) where I assess your child using the National Curriculum attainment targets. This enables pupils to be grouped appropriately and for me to identify any knowledge gaps. It also gives me the opportunity to get to know your child so they will feel more at ease and confident in a group setting.
Key Stage 3 Mathematics: Years 7, 8 and 9
In years 7, 8 and 9 I teach the Key Stage 3 National Curriculum. Plus, where needed, I go back and consolidate topics from Key Stage 2 (upper primary). In Year 9, for the more able children, I begin teaching the Key Stage 4 GCSE syllabus as well as securing Key Stage 3 topics.
Key Stage 3 is the ideal time to begin extra tuition. Once at high school your child will be put into sets based in their academic level. This may be the right set for your child, but if they are beginning to struggle and not getting the attention they need in a large class, some extra support may be extremely beneficial (see benefits of maths tuition).
However, you may feel that the group your child is in is not challenging enough and be keen for them to move up into higher groups. Key Stage 3 is best time to try and make this move, as the gap between sets can widen as pupils progress through the year groups.
Key Stage 4 GCSE Mathematics: Years 9, 10 and 11
I teach both the Foundation Level GCSE Maths and the Higher Level GCSE Maths. Your school chooses which exam pupils sit based on their academic ability. For those pupils taking the Foundation tier paper the maximum grade that can be awarded is Grade 5, which is a good pass. For pupils taking the Higher tier paper, it is possible to achieve up to a Grade 9 (equivalent to an A++). If your child is considering a career where A Level maths is required, then you would usually need your child to be sitting the Higher paper.
My approach to GCSE tuition is still very much focussed on the individual. I cover all topics in the Key Stage 4 National Curriculum, and by detailed assessment I address any weaknesses or gaps in learning, even if this means going back over some Key Stage 3 topics. Exam preparation and practice is vital to ensure pupils achieve their highest potential grade, and I spend time going through example exam questions and past papers to ensure pupils are fully prepared. I use the AQA exam board past papers for exam practice, as Manningtree High School is my nearest secondary school and this is the syllabus that they follow.
Note: Year 9 pupils may be following the Key Stage 3 curriculum or Key Stage 4 curriculum depending on the school and their academic level.