Do you think it is hard to engage people with maths and numeracy?
I think everyone tries to engage parents but there are so many barriers and other issues to consider. It's not just language difficulties or parent relationships with the school, it's how busy everyone is; parents work and teachers have such a heavy workload that it can be difficult to find the time and innovative ways to engage parents. Most schools would benefit from a dedicated person in the role to engage parents, but that is difficult to fund.
Do you think it's quite a big issue for teachers then?
Yes, all teachers try to engage with parents as much as possible but we usually find it is the same parents who always come to the event. For most parents, just getting to school for parents' evenings can be difficult enough.
What sort of needs were you particularly trying to address in your school community?
We wanted to increase parents' confidence in maths so that they were more confident about maths around their children. We also wanted to try to get everyone to see maths in the wider context of everyday life instead of just a lesson in school.
What activities did you do to engage parents?
We launched the project in the Spring term across years 1-4. Every Friday morning the parents were invited to work on the scrapbook activities alongside their children; this was followed by a coffee morning. We also invited parents to workshops during maths week as well as posting all our maths events on our twitter feed and school website.
The coffee morning had a good take-up and a lot of people came along and were always really positive about the maths activities that they had just done.
Was there anything surprising or unexpected about the project?
The children found the activities interesting but some of them were quite hard as they weren't able to draw out the maths the needed. It was difficult for them to find a starting point for some of the activities so we have tried to address this in our teaching across the school.
Why do you think this was?
The activities are open-ended, so for instance sometimes they weren't sure if it was money thing they were being asked to do or capacity. Usually when you're teaching a maths lesson you begin with the learning objectives e.g. 'today we are going to learn about capacity' so they know they're going to be working on water, using the jug and talking about measurement. Giving them something like that quite cold with a real life scenario was quite difficult at first. It was a good eye-opener for the school.
Is there anything National Numeracy could do more of to help with this kind of thing?
I think you have already addressed it by introducing resources for years 5 and 6 and early years. Perhaps a video or parent-friendly instructions for using the National Numeracy website would be great to share with parents as there is so much useful content on there.
Will you carry on with parental engagement?
Yes, parental engagement is always something we focus on and the bank of resources from this project will be useful in supporting teachers. It's been really good to be part of this project - it's given us lots to think about and lots of plans for the future.