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Centres of Excellence School: Mount Wise Community Primary School

Posted by Sally Thomas About this blogger

Stuart Brooks, Year Six teacher and Head of Maths, has improved academic results through the Centre of Excellence programme

Mount Wise Community Primary School has been recognised as a Centre of Excellence in financial education, after successfully embedding the subject into its curriculum. Stuart Brooks, a Mount Wise Year Six teacher and the Head of Maths believes the programme helped pupils engage with maths, improve their aspirations and ultimately improve their academic results.

Mount Wise Community Primary School is an inner city school in an area of high economic deprivation in Plymouth. Research has found 80 per cent of students name their parents or family as their prime source of financial understanding and Stuart identified this as a problem. “As a school we were aware our pupils had a very poor concept of money and how to use money. A lot of this was inherited from parents, who unfortunately are often in debt, live week to week and don’t have good understandings of saving.”

The Centre of Excellence programme is designed to ensure that all students enter adult life with the skills, knowledge and confidence they need to manage money well. One of the first topics Stuart delivered in the Centre of Excellence programme was the difference between needs and wants. “Quite often, and this is something we see with pupil’s parents, is poor money management in buying the want before the need. So it was important to teach the children the importance of saving for things they want. In addition to the Centre of Excellence programme we set up a school bank via the local credit union to allow the pupils to experience what it’s actually like to save.” Said Stuart.

Stuart has found teaching maths in a financial context has made the pupils a lot more engaged in lessons: “They can see the value of and the reason why they’re learning maths and how they’re going to use this in the future. The pupils always look forward to My Money Week and the older pupils are always excited to share their money knowledge with younger pupils.”

Mount Wise Community Primary School has seen their SATs Maths results improve in just one year since joining the Centres of Excellence programme. Pupils reaching the expected standard for maths has increased from 73% last year to 92% this year and the percentage of higher attainers has increased from 23% to 32%.

“We definitely accredit this improvement to applying maths in a greater context.” Stuart said. “Previously pupils were perhaps capable of doing the maths but not applying it to a real life situation because of their limited experience. Through Centres of Excellence we’ve been able to use maths in a relatable context, pupils are seeing words like calculating profit, change, and the key terminology used in exams.”

Stuart also attributes part of the academic improvement to teacher development. “Through delivering the programme our staff have been upskilling themselves and bringing new skills into lessons without even realising it. When we started the staff agreed the initiative was a good thing for pupils but they didn’t realise how much they personally would get out of it. “

Mount Wise have reported they’re pleased and proud to have achieved the Centre of Excellence accreditation and Stuart is especially pleased with the impact for high attainers “As a maths lead one of the things I’m asked all the time is how do I boost attainment for higher achieving children. I would say that through joining the Centres of Excellence you will inherently achieve this as pupils gain a wider understanding of maths.”

Posted by Sally Thomas (About this blogger)

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