Laura Reynolds, Year 3 Co-ordinator, answers questions about the impact that Busy Ant Maths has had at South Farnham School.
Why did you choose Busy Ant Maths as part of the new curriculum and not another resource?
We have used Collins resources previously and as a four form entry we need to ensure that the consistency goes across all four classes, and the Busy Ants scheme made sure that we could continue that consistency and it was in keeping with the new Programmes of Study for the New Curriculum. It’s got the lovely levels of challenge, the differentiation, the support and extension, along with really detailed teacher notes, and areas for success and learning objectives. So it was really clear to implement across each class and across the whole school.
So Busy Ant Maths isn’t just textbooks for the children, there’s also the teacher’s guide and an online resource?
Yes, we use the Teacher Guide to take our planning from, so we prepare our medium-term planning based on that. We work as year groups to take the resources, we look at the resources, and we sit and plan and think about how it’s going to work within each of our classes. It does allow each class to be achieving the same objective and then what we think about as teachers is how we will deliver that planning. So it’s really clear in the Teacher Guide, really clear and really well presented in the Pupil Books and then each class in our year group will adapt its teaching style depending on the cohort of that class.
So it does have flexibility to it, it’s not just a prescribed lesson?
It does, it gives you very clear objectives and success criteria but the way that you deliver it using your kinaesthetic activity or perhaps a visual on the board can really be adapted for the children within your class. So if you’ve got a large majority of children who would really benefit from a hands-on “let’s use a big dice on the floor” or “take some counters out” or “have a little loop card activity”, then it allows for that.
So what happens if the children who need a bit more time with the resource are focusing on that, what do the other children do?
We have a very good adult to child ratio within our school, we’re fortunate enough to have the members of staff to support children who might need a little extra support, and the Busy Ant support documentation can help with that and activities. We also then have the adults, if there was a group of children who needed a little bit more challenge, then they can go and work on the extension activities within the classroom, at a table, or in one of the many rooms that we have around the school.
So how have you found implementing the Busy Ant Maths guide into your planning, has it been a straightforward process or have there been challenges?
It has, it’s been really straightforward. We’ve got a very extensive maths curriculum team who met on a regular basis throughout last year looking at how the changes are going to affect our planning and having decided that Busy Ants was going to be a really good step forward for us we were then able to sit together in year teams and take the planning, take the Teacher Guide, look at the Pupil Books, and put the planning in place so that when September came we were all ready to go.
What sort of impact or benefits have you seen with the children themselves?
The children really enjoy the books and the colours. The word “challenge”, the fact that it is “challenge 1, 2 and 3”, is really the vocabulary that extends their learning without us needing to continually prompt “have you thought about what you could do next”, “what might your next steps be”. Having it in the book itself takes them to want to become independent and want to challenge themselves. They’ve really enjoyed the learning activities and I think the children have seen it not just as an activity which can extend their learning but also consolidate whatever they’ve done previously to that activity.
Are you enjoying using the resource?
We are, it’s lovely to have the opportunity to make sure that we’re using the new Programmes of Study and including the level of challenge that comes along with it. The support material is fantastic for the children who need support and the challenge material, the extension material is great for challenging those children. The children are loving it – they’re loving the activities and following the scheme and books really well.
Can you think of an example of when the children have responded very well to the resource?
I think the learning activities and what we have experienced so far, bearing in mind we’ve only implemented it over the last four weeks, I think the learning activities the children are seeing a large impact from them from a consolidation and extension point of view, I think they can see the benefit of it. They are thoroughly enjoying it. Lots of them are game-based which is always going to encourage and excite the children.