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St Peter’s Primary uses Adapt with their Y4 middle attainers

About the school

St Peter’s Primary school is a medium-to-large primary academy which offers a values-based education to the diverse range of families in their catchment area. In common with many schools, while some children flourished over lockdown, others have struggled, and the school has placed a high focus on wellbeing, with staff being trained on running nurture sessions and interventions. The IT skills of staff and children have improved over lockdown, and children love the maths games they play online. 

What problem were you looking to address?

First and foremost, I wanted to improve the accuracy and precision of the insights into children’s strengths and weaknesses in the topics we had already covered.  Because Collin’s Adapt gives a question-by-question analysis of how children have done, you can instantly see the gaps in their understanding. That can then be followed up in class with further support, through targeted teaching or interventions.

The second aspect was to gain a better insight into prior knowledge before teaching a new unit or topic.  In maths, we assess all the time: before, during and after lessons, and we have to be reactive. By establishing pre-knowledge, the pace can be adjusted so we move more quickly through the concepts that they are secure on and spend longer on those where they aren’t.

What were the potential barriers or challenges?

The maths apps and programmes we already used were very games-based, and children don’t even know that they’re doing maths. Because Collins Adapt is a structured learning programme, which embeds learning and assessment in a more ‘educational’ format, there was a risk that children might lose heart, or give up because it’s too hard.

How did you use it?

I chose a group of children who were middle attainers, and allocated modules for them to do while the other children were busy on our more games-based maths programmes. These children should be working at the expected level and give a good indication of where the class is at. At this point in our Y4 curriculum, we’ve covered most of the content, so by setting them modules which we’d covered, I could see how much they’d remembered. 

I also set them a module on shapes which I hadn’t yet taught. It’s a hard one: some children just don’t get it. That was very revealing, and it flagged up things which suggested gaps in their knowledge and gave me a clear steer on what I needed to focus on.

I was also interested in seeing how they rated their own confidence: sometimes the middlies do a whole task without letting me know that they haven’t got it and need more help.

What’s the outcome so far?

It worked really well in both situations: ‘hang on, we’ve done it, but they’re not sure’, and’ here’s something new, what do I need to focus on? What are most children getting wrong?’ Sometimes, we move on before we’ve actually achieved mastery of all the concepts or learning, and that’s a key issue we need to address straight away.

 I’ve also been very pleased with their concentration. Based on observing them during our IT sessions, their focus has been better than with other digital resources which are more games based, and generate a lot of noise.

Sometimes you give them something and they lose interest because it’s too tough or meaningless. But this, the way it adapts is really key, because the questions adjust to their level of working.  We try to develop a growth mindset, and the Collins platform supports that in two ways: firstly, children have to keep on going until they get the questions right. Secondly, because they have to rate their own confidence for each answer given, it reinforces the message about not being afraid to admit they don’t know something.  Some of the kids knew that they couldn’t do it; others thought that they knew it all. I found that very interesting. Sometimes, when I ask them to hand in their books at the end of a session, I ask those who believed that they knew it to put the books in one pile, and those who didn’t in the other pile. Some are always confident, regardless of how well they’ve done, but overall, we don’t really analyse that enough.  Seeing the data in the Collins dashboard means I can follow up with children in a targeted and specific way.  

What are the next steps?

Starting with a small group has allowed me to get a grip on the data and see how I can use it. I’d like to widen the group from next year, so that I can get an even better picture of children’s prior knowledge, as a pre-teaching tool, and their understanding at the end of a topic.  I’m also going to start using it for interventions.  With our current interventions, we don’t have that comparative data at the start and end; with the data from Collins Adapt we’ll be able to show the impact of the intervention.

My second goal is to roll it out more widely across the school. With any new initiative you have to embed it in your every day so that everyone’s consistent in the way that they use it.