Caroline Curran is SENCo, assessment coordinator and Year 6 class teacher…
St Mary’s is a Roman Catholic Voluntary Aided Primary School based in Rochdale. Our school which has 425 pupils aged between 4-11, is part of a vibrant local community where we aim for families to quickly feel part of our school community too.
We were looking for a solution to help us close the attainment gap in maths and boost the progress of our students across a range of abilities.
We liked Whizz Education’s virtual tutor Maths-Whizz because it assesses knowledge and tailors its sessions to the individual child and their level of learning.
The children love it as it’s also great fun! We have now used Whizz Education’s services including Maths-Whizz for three years for all our students across a range of needs with particularly positive results.
At St Mary’s, we teach numerous children with moderate learning difficulties. Some are on the Autistic Spectrum, and some have dyslexic tendencies which can impact their learning in maths as well as other subjects.
Maths-Whizz is great for our SEN students because it tailors lessons to their individual ability. It can also read out questions so students who struggle with reading can work with the tutor unaided with their headphones on.
The great thing about the virtual tutor is that the children find it such fun! When we arrange a Maths-Whizz lesson once per week, they all cheer! They enjoy the games; they like to earn coins and the characters are engaging.
Children often learn best when they are having fun and interacting with what feels like a computer game means they think its play, but they are still learning all the time.
Often SEN students don’t want to speak up if they find a particular topic challenging and will sometimes copy a neighbour’s work in class, so it can be difficult to make a true assessment of understanding in a mixed ability setting.
With Maths-Whizz, in a good way, there is nowhere to hide. The tutor assesses and identifies any weaker areas and structures its lessons to scaffold learning in that area.
Whizz Education arranged a zoom meeting with our teaching staff and a separate one with parents which was attended by 80 families to demonstrate the capabilities of Maths-Whizz. This was really helpful to increase engagement during the lockdowns.
Maths is a subject which needs constant practice to keep skills simmering. Regular use of Maths-Whizz during COVID has really helped our students mitigate learning loss.
As teachers, we can also access the assessment tool to get a clear picture of where a student may need further support and offer additional provision if necessary. It enables us to identify knowledge gaps on an individual basis and prioritise topics for teaching in class too.
During COVID and the lockdowns, we arranged zoom lessons every day and Maths-Whizz was an additional benefit where we could set tasks for homework.
Resources were not an issue as Maths-Whizz can be accessed anywhere and from any device including a mobile phone. Parents also all have a login so they can see how their child is progressing.
If I had to offer some advice for other schools with SEN students considering EdTech implementation, I would say try before you buy.
Play with the programme and understand if it’s appropriate for your cohort and right for your school.
Accessibility it is also an important consideration, particularly where a school has students from lower income families who may not have the resources of laptops and home computers to access programmes outside school.
Most importantly, to ensure engagement, choose a solution that is easy and fun to use! Using Maths-Whizz at St Mary’s means we have been able to make maths fun!