So, since the first NEs starting in Term 1, I have used a play based learning programme. I have kept a more formal reading programme going, with guided groups, and also guided writing. We also do a formal phonics programme (I use Jolly Phonics – very successful). However, for maths, I probably do at most one or two traditional group maths sessions per week. I integrate a lot of maths discussion into the daily play based session, and take advantage of any numbers we come across.

Example: when we go up to get new reading books, there’s a hopscotch that they have to wait on. They initially had to choose a number to stand on, which we discussed, supporting their digit identification. They now stand on two numbers and add them together.

I base this on the research I’ve read around building connections and making things relevant, authentic, meaningful and fun. However, it has been a bit of a leap of faith moving away from traditional group rotations every day for maths, so I carried out a JAM assessment at the end of Term 2 and compared the results with the start of Term 1 JAM assessments to see the progress (if any!) made. I was pretty bowled over – most students had moved up a stage or two in the number sections, and if they didn’t move up, from my notes I could see that their thinking and strategies were developing. The most pronounced is of a student who had little/no number knowledge and struggled to count 1:1 with even small numbers (could normally cope with up to 4 objects). This student counted up to 9, then up to 16 objects with deliberate, perfect 1:1 correspondence, then in front of my excited eyes, shared 12 beans evenly over a quartered circle!

Considering they’ve had little ‘formal, traditional’ teaching of maths, they have made pretty much the same progress I’ve seen my previous NE students make with a formal Monday- Friday group rotation! I am pretty excited that I now have some evidence that backs up the research I’ve based my programme on, as I am a teacher who loves teaching maths, and this was quite a leap of faith for me!

My next step is to take my identified next steps for each student and integrate that into play based learning, especially as moving into stage 3/4 there are more areas that need explicit teaching. Not sure how, but will have a go at integrating this!