We were very happy to grant Batchwood their second award this year, this time for a range of CPA maths equipment (inc. Numicon systems) and training.
In another well structured, convincingly argued application, Katharine Lane (TA/Interventions Provider) first explained her school’s need:
“As a person-centred SEMH institution, Batchwood School aims to be pioneering and creative in its pedagogical and curriculum approach. Staff aim to be research-led and take new developments from a range of settings and evaluate whether they could have a positive impact in our setting.
… The academic year 2020-21 sees the school expand to three-form entry, and the profiles of this new cohort are particularly complex or profound. Many have exceptionally low prior Maths attainment and are working at KS1.”
Then Katharine described their proposed solution and its strengths:
“In particular, the Maths department has been exploring the Concrete, Pictorial, Abstract [CPA] approach to building numeracy skills and Maths confidence. This pedagogical approach has thus far chiefly been the preserve of KS1 and 2 educators, but we feel that it would have great applicability for our students.
Developed by educational psychologists, the principle which underpins the CPA theory is to begin exploring topics using physical and visual aids, before exploring ideas at an abstract level (i.e. written sums/‘traditional’ Maths). Impact studies indicate that this methodology is highly successful, with students able to develop genuine understanding of concepts (rather than simply ‘parrot’ rote learnt sequences such as times table lists). Moreover, students engage more enthusiastically within the lessons, as numeracy suddenly becomes more ‘real world’ or relatable.”
For our SEMH setting a more sensory, less memorisation-heavy methodology may be particularly beneficial. Within our pupil body there is great diversity of needs, but the prevalence of autism means that the kinaesthetic element of the CPA approach e.g. tactile magnetic numbers, are likely to help scaffold students towards seeing how they could use their different cognitive strengths to solve more advanced Maths independently. Likewise, many of our pupils have diagnoses of ADHD and as this condition inhibits the brain’s memorisation capacity, a pedagogy which does not resort to rote learning, but instead builds understanding should be highly beneficial.”
And, to strengthen her bid further, Katharine focussed in on the strengths of the specific resources they were applying for e.g:
“We have chosen to base our pilot on the Numicon programme because this is particularly well suited to learners with SEND (the Break Barriers resources have been developed specifically for this purpose), and we have been in contact with another non-mainstream secondary phase school which has integrated Numicon within its teaching philosophy and seen positive results (pupil progress accelerated).”