Meet the teacher: Jo Quince
Tennyson Road Primary in Luton is the lead school of a new Multi Academy Trust, the Tennyson Learning Community. We spoke with their Director of Academy Effectiveness, Jo Quince, about
Tell us about Tennyson Road
The pupils at Tennyson come from a range of backgrounds, a number with special needs and many with English as an additional language. We have an amazing community of parents and they share the same ethos and drive as us in regards to aiming high and wanting the very best for their child.
Sumdog has helped us engage the hard to reach pupils
At Tennyson we were looking for something that the children could use in school and at home to really help with their maths skills, and we felt Sumdog ticked all the boxes. We use other online platforms too, but what we liked about Sumdog is that it was perfectly safe, and extremely engaging. We had some children, especially some of our year six pupils, who can be quite hard to reach but they were really engaged by Sumdog and found it exciting. And we liked that they could use it at home on iPads, tablets or even phones. We asked for feedback from our pupils and they all loved it, from reception right up to year six, and importantly the parents liked it too.
The staff set work in class, and for homework, without having any marking
Teachers have set work in class because it’s really easy to create activities and tasks for the children to complete during lessons. We’ve said to our staff; “why not use Sumdog as a maths lesson? Consolidate skills the class have already been taught” and the children have really enjoyed that. And of course, teachers then can set assessments without having any marking, it’s all done online for them.
Teachers have also enjoyed using it for homework. I recently had a year five teacher come to me and say that she had set her class 100 questions, and one boy had actually done over a thousand, and through the reporting on Sumdog she could see the accuracy, so he wasn’t just whizzing through and guessing, he got practically all of them right as well. It was a really fantastic success story for that boy and he was really proud of himself.
Personalised practice fits with the mastery curriculum
The teachers have found the diagnostic really useful, which ensures children are working at their own level. You could have a child in year six working on year six objectives, sat next to a child who’s perhaps working on year four objectives. The children may not know, and as far as they’re concerned they’re both doing their maths work on Sumdog. So, thinking about a child’s self-esteem, this is really valuable.
The contests really fire them up and they get excited to practice maths
There is occasionally a competition we can enter and classes can play against children in other schools. Each day you get emailed a list of who has played the most, who got the most questions right and we share that with our children. And that really fires them up. Across the school you can see which class has been on it the most, and you tend to find once we share that with the children they all go home that evening and spend loads of time on the competition because they want to win!
Sumdog also provide excellent training and support for teachers
Quite often you buy into new things and then you think I’m not sure how this works or what do we do about this. But we haven’t had that problem because Sumdog have always been there at the end of an email or a phone call. We found the online support to be fantastic. You’ve only got to email a problem or concern or ask them to help you and they’re literally back to you within the hour.
We also had a whole staff meeting where they ran us a personal webinar, someone talked us through all the features and our staff could ask questions. It really improved the engagement from our team. So, actually the staff have a better understanding, they feel more confident, and they’re really happy to use it, because they can see the benefits..
I’ve seen it from the parent’s perspective too
What’s also really interesting for me is that I have a child who is in year one and he uses Sumdog too, so I’ve seen it from a parent’s perspective at home. I can honestly say the progress both my husband and I have noticed in his maths has been fantastic.
He accesses it totally independently, and has done since the age of four when he was in reception, and that’s really important because a practice product needs to be based on the child’s knowledge and their understanding. I also like the way that it can read aloud the questions for them, which helps with both early stages and EAL.
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