A Sharing Practice blog by Andy Thompson, Numeracy & Maths Lead for the Northern Alliance

‘As part of the Northern Alliance regional improvement collaborative, it has been a pleasure working with colleagues across eight council areas to deliver practical tools to support teachers across Scotland.

‘I was seconded to encourage colleagues to share best practice and overcome shared challenges improving attainment in numeracy in maths back in 2019.  This means working alongside colleagues from Education Scotland and bringing together secondary maths as well as primary teachers with a range of opportunities to look at improving things together.

‘Since August 2021, in collaboration with 40 colleagues, we have been developing senior phase maths assessments in line with SQA specifications for National 5, N5 Applications of Maths, Higher and Advanced Higher courses. These will provide colleagues across the board with high quality tools for assessing learner progress against the national standard.

‘We have also produced item banks of questions which will give teachers greater flexibility over how they assess both in this session and beyond. Drawing upon expertise across such a large part of Scotland has allowed for an economy of scale not otherwise possible, with colleagues engaging proactively in all key aspects of task design and the associated quality assurance procedures.

‘We’re always learning and taking on board feedback but the response to these new assessment tools has been great so far. We’re tracking who uses them and with how many students so that we can see what kind of difference they make.

‘The next step is making the materials available to other regional improvement collaboratives, in an effort to further partnership working across Scotland.

‘There will also be an opportunity for all teachers to come together for senior phase moderation, which is part of a wider, ambitious offer of support across the entire senior phase. I will be facilitating this alongside Northern Alliance Secondary Curriculum Lead, Kirsty Campbell, and we look forward to meeting as many colleagues as possible online.

‘We also have a Fractions Network open to Primary 7 teachers to come together and address the barriers for young people in improving their knowledge and understanding of this critically important aspect of numeracy. The focus on P7 was chosen because it allows us to map out the developmental journey from early years to upper primary while providing a stable, fixed point around the transition into secondary and Level 3.

‘These practical examples of how we are standing shoulder to shoulder with colleagues across a huge geographical area to make a real difference help to underline what regional collaboration is all about. The conversations, the opportunities to tackle ‘wicked issues’ together and develop new resources together can help improve outcomes for children and young people.

‘If you are a maths teacher – or any teacher or practitioner working across our council areas for that matter – I’d absolutely urge you to get in touch and find out how you can join our Northern Alliance networks.

‘We have a huge opportunity to provide access to high quality materials, to help colleagues better understand the SQA moderation process, and to deliver equity and fairness on behalf of our learners. It’s colleagues coming together that really makes a massive difference.’

Practitioners interested in finding out more about opportunities to collaborate on maths and numeracy can reach Andy via email, Andy.Thompson@shetland.gov.uk

For more information about the work of the Northern Alliance, including a raft of new professional learning opportunities, visit: https://northernalliance.scot/  Practitioners can also find and join our professional networks via our Northern Alliance SharePoint site (Glow login required) where they can also find links to resources.

Andy Thompson.
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