New maths teaching system adds up to “staggering” success at Cranbrook Education Campus

PUBLISHED: 17:16 10 January 2019 | UPDATED: 17:28 10 January 2019

Cranbrook Education Campus. Picture: Philippa Davies

Cranbrook Education Campus. Picture: Philippa Davies

Philippa Davies

It was one of 16 Devon schools trying out a technology-based personalised learning approach, and got better results than any of the others

A technology-based maths teaching system has led to “staggering” progress among pupils at Cranbrook Education Campus, who have outdone others in Devon trying out the same technique.

Cranbrook was one of 16 schools chosen to trial the personalised learning system, which assesses each pupil’s level and sets homework tailored to their ability.

The Cranbrook pupils achieved the highest rate of progress in Year 7 and 8 among all the 16 schools, and pupils in the ‘disadvantaged’ category did just as well as the others.

Head teacher Stephen Farmer said: “This approach to personalised learning is so much better than anything before. The live nature of it is what makes it stand out from the crowd. It adapts as the pupil uses it, making it harder or easier according to how pupils are doing. With other systems everyone gets the same questions and it doesn’t adapt to get the best out of each pupil.

“Our pupils love it. It’s really built their confidence. And the analytics side of it has been really important for the teachers. It gives them specific detailed information on how each student is doing and what they’re struggling with.”

The system was developed by the Exeter learning technology company Sparx which spent seven years working with local schools to research it. Chief executive Dan Sandhu explained:

“Together we have developed a platform – initially for maths homework - where the best of modern technology works in harmony with the essential skill of the teacher. The system carefully assesses what level a pupil is at and sets and marks bespoke homework for each student. It adapts to ensure they are being stretched and provides insights for the teachers which help them support each pupil.

“The impact on pupil progress, and particularly on disadvantaged pupils, has been staggering in the schools which have adopted it. Free School Meals (FSM) pupils are now making equal progress to non-FSM. As well, a recent test showed that one of our schools, Cranbrook Education Campus in Exeter, which has nearly 50 per cent disadvantaged pupils, had the highest rate of progress in Yr 7 and 8 maths among 16 schools across the county.”

The system also saves teachers around two hours a week on admin, planning and marking.

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