In the spotlight: White Rose Maths

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In February 2020, St John’s Foundation launched its ambitious ten-year strategy, alongside the creation of its new Foundation Fund – a fund established with the specific aim of narrowing the key stage 2 attainment gap for children living in Bath and North East Somerset.

The Primary Empowerment Programme (one of the Foundation Fund’s workstreams that provides children with additional support with foundational reading, writing, oracy, and mathematics, as well as emotional and behavioural support) is working with 7 schools in the local area with high levels of disadvantaged children on their registers. Working together, the schools and St John’s have chosen six delivery partners that will most support disadvantaged children.

Our new spotlight series will shine a light on the delivery partners and schools that the Primary Empowerment Programme is working with and provide readers with an update on the work being delivered to improve children’s lives.

This month, we sat down with Caroline Hamilton, Managing Director of White Rose Maths.

Can you tell me a bit about White Rose Maths?

White Rose Maths is made up of a passionate group of maths experts (we’re all maths teachers at heart). We support the education sector by producing schemes of learning, assessments, and resources to help teachers and provide training to help better their approach to maths teaching.

For the last 12 months we’ve also been part of the National Tutoring Programme, working directly with disadvantaged children across England to make up for the learning time lost due to the Covid-19 closures.

How did the pandemic effect the way you reach children and help them with learning?

When the pandemic started, we had to react very quickly, switching our attention to home learning. We made all our ‘home learning’ lessons available for free online and every lesson came with a short video showing parents how to help their child complete the activity successfully.

Our approach was incredibly successful, reaching a huge number of children and our reach was like nothing we had experienced before. We had 70 million views and were in the top 1% of Vimeo users.

We were so successful in our approach that we won the Bett Covid Response champion award and the Best Covid-19 Community Award for our response and were shortlisted for another two.

How did you hear about the Foundation Fund?

St John’s reached out to us and raised our awareness of it. There was such a synergy between our work and the Fund that we went through the bid process to apply to be a delivery partner.

Why do you think it’s a good match?

White Rose Maths has various initiatives that help disadvantaged children which is why so much of our content is free. When we heard of St John’s and its Foundation Fund, we thought it was the perfect fit. Although we are a global organisation, having such a localised area of focus is a new approach for us and working with deprived or ‘opportunity’ areas gives us a specific goal to achieve results.

How will you be working with the Fund?

So far, we have met with all the seven schools individually to understand exactly what they need. We wanted to provide bespoke training based on the information we gathered so we worked with the headteachers to understand what they needed. Since those initial meetings, we have advised on action plans.

One common theme that emerged from all schools is that they want to upskill their Teaching Assistants so that they can lead on our tutoring packages. This will reduce costs in the long run and prove more beneficial to schools – their training begins at the end of February.

What are your key objectives/ what are you trying to achieve by working with the Foundation Fund?

We have a few key objectives to achieve. The first is, our early years focus and wanting to see key improvements in continuous provision and teacher questioning. The second objective is to upskill Teaching Assistants. We want to give TAs access to the National Tutoring Programme, which helps pupils make up lost learning time during Covid.

Aligning our initiatives with the Foundation Fund helps both White Rose Maths and St John’s reach a higher number of disadvantaged children and have a greater positive impact on their lives.