#028 Primary School Teacher Rachel Webster: How your Year 7s have been taught maths

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On this episode of the Mr Barton Maths Podcast, I spoke to Rachel Webster.

Rachel is a former primary school teacher who is taking on the role of a Primary Maths Specialist with the White Rose Maths Hub from September.

The reason I wanted to interview Rachel is that for many years I do not feel I have been teaching each new crop of Year 7s as well as I could have done. Dylan Wiliam has said one of the most important things for a teacher to know is where their learners are at, and I have made the mistake of pretty much assuming these Year 7s know very little about maths. I have introduced concepts such as fractions, factors, ratio and algebra as if they have never seen them before. Perhaps just as importantly, I wasn’t sure exactly what these Year 7s would be expecting maths lessons to be like based on their prior experiences. Just in case any other teachers out there want to know a bit more about the mathematical background of their Year 7s, I thought it would be worthwhile having an experienced primary teacher such as Rachel on the show, and thank goodness I did, as it proved to be a cracker!

In a wide-ranging interview, we covered the following and more:

  • Rachel takes us through the planning and delivery of a Year 6 lesson on percentages, explaining the format and content of the lesson – and I learn all about steps to success!
  • We look at how Rachel differentiates
  • I ask how has maths teaching at primary school changed over the last few years?
  • We discuss the content and difficulty of the work students will have covered in Year 6
  • We look at Year 6 students’ experiences solving problems
  • Are Year 6 students used to explicit instruction?
  • Why is mindset so important?
  • What kind of homeworks would students be set?
  • If it was up to Rachel, what would the first few lessons of Year 7 maths look like, and what advice does she have for Year 7 teachers?
  • What are the best transition practices she has seen?
  • And then a big one that I almost forgot – the role of manipulatives and equipment. What are students used to using?

If you have Year 7s at all this year, or if you have any influence over your school’s transition policy, then hopefully this will prove an invaluable listen. I know it will change how I approach my teaching, and I will reflect on that during my takeaway at the end of the interview.

The books Rachel recommends, along with the book recommendations of all my previous guests, can be found at mrbartonmaths.com/teachers/books
My research page, summarising my takeaways to over 100 papers can be found at mrbartonmaths.com/teachers/research

Rachel Webster’s Big 3
2. TES for the White Rose Maths Hub Schemes of Work
3. YouCubed

My usual plugs:

Thanks so much for listening, and I really hope you enjoy the show!
Craig Barton

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