31st March

Hi Maths

What a very quick (but ridiculously busy) half term that was!

I have added the first four lessons of year 8 for next half term and the first two for year 7 to the scheme.

I know that the year 7 scheme has been taking quite a while to get through, so don’t worry if you are carrying on with that work next half term.

Many of the students seem to be quite efficient with the fraction algorithms, but aren’t particularly fluent.

For example, for questions such as:


Some students have been insisting on doing things like


Although this shows knowledge of a procedure it shows a lack of conceptual understanding. Those who have read the question properly should be able to think ‘Ah – one third add two is obviously two and a third!’  Students who display real fluency are able to choose the most efficient and appropriate method to find a solution.  The same situation appeared in my year 11 class just this week.  We were doing simultaneous equations by substitution. As you know, the final step is to find y by substituting their value of x. Their value of x was a negative fraction:


Despite having just substituted an expression into the equation of a circle, rearranged to form a quadratic, solved the quadratic by factorising, many students were stumped by this simple final step. ‘Do we have to find a common denominator?’ was a common question. They wanted to know the method rather than stepping back and looking at what the question was asking. I’m hoping that the focus on fractions lower down the school will stop this being such a problem when it comes to GCSE.

When we get back our main focus will be our exam classes. The government’s decision this week to change a grade 4 to a ‘standard pass’ and grade 5 to a ‘strong pass’ shouldn’t really affect what we do in class or for our preparation for the exams.  Many students will be relieved that their grade 4 will actually ‘count’ for employers and universities in the future though.

Have a restful holiday over the next couple of weeks. Happy Easter to you all!