Mastery maths in EYFS – update

My name is Bridget and I am so proud to have been approached along with eight other Early Years practitioners across the city to work together. Our mission is to decide what mastery maths might look like in EYFS through research and lesson study, with a particular focus on developing Early Number Sense.

Historically, I admit that I have planned and taught maths lessons paying close attention to ‘next steps’ in order to accelerate children’s learning as soon as they appeared to understand a concept. I liken this to parenting my first child when I strived to meet every milestone (first tooth, sitting unsupported, crawling, walking, babbling). By this I mean that I was so focused on them moving on the next stage, I feel I missed all the small steps which showed how the learning occurred.


From day one of this learning journey I have been challenged on so many levels. I have learnt how to confidently use new language and thoroughly understand why terminology is important to support children’s conceptual knowledge. For example; during every lesson we empower the children to develop their own solution and refer to this as ‘releasing the kite’. We also challenge ‘rapid graspers’ by making them feel ‘mathematically uncomfortable’.

Every lesson that we have planned through the research group has been discussed in depth ensuring that key concepts have been broken down into small steps. Who’d have thought you could spend at least a week teaching number 4?

I have observed my research team (affectionately known as the purple group) teach some amazing lessons using innovative resources including a balance of familiar maths equipment alongside everyday objects such as egg boxes, ice cube trays, sticks and stones.

The beauty of working alongside other very knowledgeable people including university professors, Early Years specialists and of course Martin Tillbrook (East Midlands South Maths Hub’s, Teaching for Mastery Primary Lead) and his extensive knowledge has enabled us to enter into some thought provoking debates!

We are all at different stages of the journey, trialling lessons in different ways with different sized groups. Some of us are planning for our colleagues and some of us in collaboration with colleagues.

We have already seen the impact that working in mixed ability groups can have on all learners and there is still so much more to learn. I am so excited that Early Years maths mastery, along with developing Early Number Sense is going to be shared with all Nottingham City schools at the end of the project in July (1 x full day free training for 1 x F2 teacher from each school across Nottingham City).

Please excuse me I am off to ‘release a kite’



Recruitment and retention update

I’m here with a general update for all things EIB. Firstly, I am sad to report that Fran Cropper, the Recruitment and Retention Officer for the EIB has left her role to take up a promotion with her former team. Fran has achieved so much in her short time with the EIB and has given us our Teach Nottingham website, created a brilliant video promoting Nottingham as a place to live and teach and has forged some excellent partnerships both locally and nationally. We are now looking at how we can build on the work Fran has done and will announce plans for her replacement shortly.


And speaking of recruitment, I attended Transform’s excellent recruitment fair on Saturday 4 February at the Playhouse in the city centre. My role was to promote the TeachNottingham agenda and to share some vacancies from schools who are not in the Transform Teaching School Alliance (TSA). It was a brilliant morning and the turnout was excellent, a real mixture of NQT’s, experienced teachers, people considering the profession for the first time and Teaching Assistants. I shared a stall with Nottingham University who were there to promote the School Direct route and I am not exaggerating when I say they were busy all morning! The interest in this route in to teaching is obviously really high and comes from people with differing levels of classroom experience.


Our TeachNottingham bags went down very well and almost every attendee left with one, which was great because it meant they were spreading the TeachNottingham message as they went about the rest of the day. And I also can’t write this post without mentioning the donuts from the Nottingham Donut Company which were being handed out for free to all visitors. I may very well have left with a box of leftovers..


Attending a recruitment fair like this seems like an invaluable opportunity to fill roles in our schools and Transform have committed to opening up stalls at future fairs for those not in the Transform TSA. If you would like to go, please contact Sarah Heesom at Transform – – for details of future events.

Transition student conference, by Jennifer Hardy

On 30th November last year, we held a student conference in the Ballroom at the Council House to look at transition from primary to secondary school. Nine of the city’s secondary schools sent KS3 and KS4 pupils to the conference, pre-armed with their thoughts about how their own experiences of transition have impacted on their secondary education and their views about how transition could be improved.


I found the morning to be a brilliant insight in to how the work the EIB is doing affects the young people in the city and, as someone who is guilty of spending too much time at Loxley House, it was great for me to learn from the people we aim to help. All of the young people were enthusiastic and bought a variety of experiences and recommendations to the discussion, ranging from practical quick wins to aspirational transition activities.


Transition is one of the EIB’s key areas of focus and we have recently appointed Sarah Smailes as the Transition Strand Lead working a day a week for the EIB. Sarah will also continue to work as a Year 6 teacher at Claremont Primary School in the city. Sarah will start work for the EIB at the end of January and will do her own blog post when she is settled in to the role.


The feedback gathered from the conference will be developed in to a newsletter, which will be one in a series of newsletters produced and shared with all city school staff in the run up to the common transition day in July this year. We will also be publishing the transition protocol and working with Schools IT to make some tweaks to the common transfer form, so it is ready for use when details about secondary school place offers are released.


EYFS Maths Mastery-Securing the Foundations


We work in the Early Years Foundation Team at Nottingham City Council and we approached the Education Improvement Board to apply for funding to lead an EYFS Maths Mastery research group with 9 x F2 Teachers from 9 City schools (with varying levels of deprivation). This is a great opportunity to bring together experts from the field of Mathematics and we are working in collaboration with Martin Tillbrook (Teaching for Mastery Primary Lead with East Midlands South Maths Hub) and Professors from Nottingham University. By working together we are looking at how teaching in a mastery style can be weaved into Mathematics teaching in an EYFS classroom while maintaining Early Years pedagogy. We will be blogging on the EIB website over the course of the year and will be sharing an analysis of the project at the end.

Why are we doing this?

Many children in KS1 and KS2 are starting to be taught in a Mastery style since the changes to the National Curriculum. It therefore makes sense to start this journey in EYFS so we can enable the majority of children to have a secure understanding of Early Number Sense which will support the transition into Year One.

Sustainable CPD

In light of the addition of the Standard for Teachers’ Professional Development to the Teaching Standards, we are looking at creating a sustainable model for CPD in schools. Throughout this research project we will be using a Lesson Study approach (supported by Professor Geoff Wake, Nottingham University) to plan EYFS Maths Mastery Lessons. This approach is enabling teachers to reflect on their lessons, thinking about how the children responded to; the resources, the questions asked, the skill being developed and much more!

We’re going a Mastery journey!mastery-journey

Using a Mastery approach, children will work in mixed ability groups. Does this challenge your thinking? Interested to find out more? Hopefully this well-known story will help you to see how it works in practice.


The 4 C’s

In order to develop children’s Early Number Sense, weekly lesson planning will include elements of the 4 C’s (counting, comparison, composition and cardinality) as research has shown that if children have a secure understanding of these they are more likely to become successful mathematicians as they get older. Please see below for a very brief and simple definition of these terms. During the Summer Term training, these definitions will be unpicked in lots more detail.

Try this out..









We’ll be back with an update in the New Year.


Caroline Vissani and Lucy Savage, Early Years Specialists at Nottingham City Council

Want to find out more?

This is a link to a Year 1 lesson on finding the difference. Look out for the Mastery Style questioning and the children answering in full sentences (if you are not a member of NCETM you can register for free)

An article written for NRich by Sue Gifford who talks about Early Years Mathematics: How to Create a Nation of Mathematics Lovers?


Fran Cropper, Teacher Recruitment and Retention Officer

Hello everyone,

It has been an incredibly busy first few months in post for me – the extremely complex and ever changing nature of the Educational landscape in Nottingham/nationally is the backdrop to such an important agenda; how to get the best outcomes for our children.

Everyone remembers their best and most inspiring teachers, yet with the media focus on the teacher supply crisis, the big challenge is how we ensure Nottingham is a city of choice for teachers.   Unfortunately, there is no ‘silver bullet’ for this issue (wouldn’t it be great if there were?!)

In this context, over the last few months I have been mainly focussing on:

  • Meeting the Board and key stakeholders – I do appreciate I haven’t met all of you yet, but please bear with me!
  • Talking to lots of other cities around what they are doing to tackle the issue
  • Writing a strategic action plan, to deliver a programme of activity over the next few years
  • Developing a ‘Teach Nottingham’ brand, including launching a website, promotional materials, press coverage etc.
  • Making a successful bid for funding to run the acclaimed ‘Headspace’ programme for Headteachers (If you are interested in taking part in this please email me
  • Producing a CPD map – available to all schools
  • Arranging for all Academy Staff to get a great offer to City Leisure Centres:
  • Writing a bid to DfE for funding to allow Schools to review their policies to reduce teacher workload (result awaited)fran-at-recruitment-fair
  • Planning events to showcase Nottingham and the routes to teaching. I recently met lots of great graduates at an NTU Graduate Fair. There was loads of interest in teaching and the event really highlighted to me the confusion that exists around routes in to teaching, and that teaching attracts a diverse bunch with one thing in common: Moral purpose! We had lots of interest from some of our shortage subject teachers- Maths and Science which is fantastic to hear.

Two huge pieces of work have been around the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy, and what this means for Schools – including the potential new route to QTS though an Apprenticeship route. I will be discussing this at the 24 November School Directors Forum.fran-and-david-at-parliament

And last but not least, the Fair Workload Charter. I have been working through the logistics, fielding press enquiries, consultation, signing schools up, working on branding…and a trip to the Parliamentary Education Select Committee. Parliament was an amazing experience, and it is great to hear that our local solution to a national problem is attracting such attention.

You can watch the full video here.

Launch of the Education Improvement Board blog, a post from Sir David Greenaway

Welcome to our new blog, which is intended to help keep you in the loop about what we’ve been doing on the Education Improvement Board.

Apart from the Board members, who generously volunteer their time, we now have three staff working on the Board’s key priorities for education in our city – welcome to David, Jennifer and Fran.

David Anstead, Strategic Lead David Anstead–

David Anstead, who is already well known to Nottingham schools through his work as an HMI and adviser to the local authority, is the EIB’s Strategic Lead responsible for co-ordinating the work of the Board and developing and delivering the Strategic Plan, .


jenJennifer Hardy, Programme Manager –

Jennifer Hardy is the Programme Manager for the Education Improvement Board. She has worked in the education department at Nottingham City Council since 2012.



Fran Cropper, Recruitment and Retention Strand Lead – fran

Fran Cropper has particular responsibility for improving the recruitment and retention of teachers to city schools. On October 5th, World Teachers’ Day, Fran launched a new website to promote teaching in Nottingham and you can read more about what Fran is doing there.


Our main concern at our first meeting of this academic year has been to understand what the examination, test and teacher assessment results tell us about educational standards across schools in Nottingham. We invited Phillip Burton from the local authority’s DAISI (Data Analysis and Interpretation for School Improvement) team to lead us through this item on our agenda. The overall picture is far from where we want it to be, but there are some noteworthy improvements, which we intend to learn from and build upon.

In brief, Phillip’s presentation set out Nottingham’s outcomes in 2016 in comparison to the national picture for that year. The data and findings are provisional until the government has completed its accuracy check in early 2017.

The presentation showed that the proportion of children achieving a good level of development at the end of the early years foundation stage increased by 5.5% on the 2015 outcomes but is still below the national average of 69%. There was a marked improvement in the proportion of pupils meeting the expected standard in phonics at 75% (81% nationally). The biggest improvements were seen in the Key Stage 2 test results taken at the end of Year 6. Overall, Nottingham has moved up from low to broadly middling rankings when its primary performance is compared to its ‘statistical neighbours’ (which includes Bristol, Manchester and Southampton amongst others) and to all other local authorities in the country. For the first time ever, attainment in mathematics at Nottingham primaries is in line with the national average.

At secondary level, the proportion of students attaining good GCSE grades in English and mathematics (a performance measure known as ‘the basics’) improved by 4%, closing the gap on the national average by a modest amount. Three city secondary schools, although improving, are still below the government’s minimum floor standard. However, this is an improvement on the position three years ago when half of the city’s secondary schools were below the floor standard.

Whilst we are clear these results are not yet good enough, we are pleased to note that Nottingham schools are generally improving at a faster rate than other schools nationally, particularly at primary.

Phillip Burton’s fuller analysis of this year’s results is available here – presentation-to-eib-2016-results-analysis.

On September 16th we launched the Board’s Fair Workload Charter. This has been an important piece of work for the Board – part of our thinking about the recruitment and retention of teachers in the city – and we have been pleased to be able to work on it with the teaching unions. The Department for Education has identified workload as a national issue in teaching and our own Charter builds upon the practical recommendations of three DfE working parties set up to help tackle the problem. Locally, the launch in September was very well supported, with over 60 senior staff from schools and academy groups in attendance to hear, amongst others: Sean Harford HMI, National Director of Education at Ofsted; Jon Richards, National Secretary of Education and Children’s Services from UNISON; National Executive member Sally Bates and National Officer Paul Whitehead from the NAHT.

Nationally there has been a considerable amount of interest in what we are trying to do with the Fair Workload Charter in Nottingham, with some very positive media coverage, interest from other local authority areas and an invitation to present evidence on the initiative at the Education Select Committee in the House of Commons. The task now, of course, is to make sure the Charter really makes a difference in our schools, so we can attract the teachers who will be essential to improving education in the city and make sure that teachers’ work is focused on bringing the maximum benefit to our children and young people.