MP who ‘hated maths’ praises Cranbrook school’s teaching methods

PUBLISHED: 17:17 13 June 2019 | UPDATED: 17:17 13 June 2019

Sir Hugo in the classroom for the maths lesson. Picture: Pedroza Communications

Sir Hugo in the classroom for the maths lesson. Picture: Pedroza Communications

Pedroza Communications

Sir Hugo Swire sat in on a class where maths was being taught using a high-tech interactive system

Dan Sandhu of Sparx and Sir Hugo, with pupils Benjamin Gale and Hannah Mobbs, Picture: Pedroza CommunicationsDan Sandhu of Sparx and Sir Hugo, with pupils Benjamin Gale and Hannah Mobbs, Picture: Pedroza Communications

The MP for East Devon has joined a maths class at Cranbrook Education Campus on Friday, May 24.

Sir Hugo Swire was not there to brush up on his own numerical skills, but to experience for himself an innovative teaching system which has dramatically improved the pupils' achievements in the subject.

During his visit to the school, on Friday, May 24, Sir Hugo met Dan Sandhu, the CEO of the Exeter-based company Sparx which developed the system, before experiencing its teaching method for himself.

He said: "We sat in on a lesson which I found very interesting, because I was taught maths extremely badly and I hated it."

Sparx spent seven years working with local schools to research the technology. It assesses each pupil's level and sets homework tailored to their ability, constantly adapting to their progress to make sure they are stretched. It also gives teachers detailed information which helps them support pupils, and saves them around two hours a week on admin, planning and marking.

The system was tried out in 16 Devon schools, and the Cranbrook pupils achieved the highest rate of progress in Year 7 and 8, with those in the 'disadvantaged' category doing just as well as the others. The overall results across Devon were described by Sparx as 'staggering'.

Sir Hugo, who joined a Year 7 maths lesson, was certainly impressed. "It seemed to be a much better way of teaching maths and what is interesting is that not only do they make the pupils do the calculations on a screen, but they make them write them down as well. I talked to them and they love doing it because it's more like a problem-solving game, which they're used to doing on their computers."

Asked if he would be better at maths if he had been taught using the Sparx system, he said: "I might even be teaching it myself."

He added: "The technology being developed here in Devon is testament to the talent on our doorstep, and the ambition of schools such as Cranbrook Education Campus to deliver more for students. With the Department for Education recently releasing its Education Technology strategy, I am proud to see local partnerships like this act as a beacon of innovation in education that the whole country can learn from.

Stephen Farmer, Headteacher of Cranbrook Education Campus, said: "It was a pleasure to welcome Sir Hugo to the Campus to meet our wonderful pupils, see Sparx in action and learn more about what we do at the Campus. 'I love maths' is a common statement we hear from pupils and the Sparx platform has played a vital part, alongside the excellent teaching, in supporting our pupils to make amazing progress in maths."

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