UK National Conference 15th and 16th October, Queens Hotel, Leeds - a personal reflection on the conference by Catherine Staunton-Unsworth - Maths Recovery Teacher/Trainer, Wigan.
Representatives from 9 countries attended the two day conference in Leeds: England, Eire, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Sweden, Denmark, USA, Canada and Australia.
This year's Maths Recovery Conference was organised by Chris Porter supported by colleagues from the Executive committee and was generously sponsored by Normac. Chris did a fantastic job in choosing a fine venue which was central to local and international transport access routes for all our visitors.
The delegates came from a variety of backgrounds ranging from Teaching Assistants, Primary and Secondary teachers, Local Authority Advisers to University Lecturers. They appreciated the intimate, family atmosphere which the conference facilitated, enabling individuals to have personal conversations about their own practice with experienced Maths Recovery Teachers, Trainers and presenters. Another contributory factor to the inclusive ambience was that delegates were invited in the evening to attend a special dinner with the conference organisers and presenters to mark Jim Martland's long standing contributions to the Maths Recovery Programme.
The main highlights of the confernce were the presentations from the three influential international authors of the Maths Recovery books, Bob Wright, Jim Martland and Ann Stafford, who presented on a range of topics. The presentations included 'An overview and insights of Maths Recovery' and a master class by Bob. This spanned both ends of the scale of Maths Recovery experience, appealing to delegates who were just starting on their Maths Recovery Journey as well as the delegate who had already achieved Maths Recovery Teacher/Trainer status and Consultants alike, enabling them to share good practice as well as generating discussions.
Jim's 'What it is like to be a Maths Recovery Learner?' was particularly interesting and insightful as the workshop was very practical. It involved delegates in learning new information at their own level in a similar way as a child following the Maths Recovery Intervention. This created a reflective atmosphere in which delegates were able to focus on what it must be like for the child learner.
'The importance of locating numbers and nested numbers', which Ann presented focused upon the importance of learning the sequence of numbers up to and beyond 100, both verbal and written. Again, there were very practical elements to this session that were useful for giving ideas about how to develop this area when working with children.
Other international guest speakers were Petey MacCarty and Kurt Kinsey from Mountain States Mathematics, USA. They spoke about the importance of counting based strategies for addition and subtraction supported by their research from working with teachers and pupils across America. They also presented 'Structuring Number: Supporting Numerical Reasoning' which was enhanced by the use of video footage and interactive discussion relating topics across the strands in number.
Joan McCarthy and Chris Porter spoke about their recent experience delivering training in Southern Ireland using the purple book - 'Teaching Number in the Classroom' which incorporated lots of practical activities for the whole class and small groups of children.
Chris Porter and Julia Sheridan talked delegates through the beginning stages of introducing Maths Recovery as an intervention to their school as well as giving an outline to established Maths Recovery Teachers on how to advance their skills to becoming a Trainer.
I had the honour of presenting in some sessions alongside Joan McCarthy 'On the Journey of a Child', which gave an insight into one child's experience of Maths Recovery over a term. Using video clips, we showed how linking assessment and specific teaching can be used to monitor and show effective progress. The clips showed a child and myself at the start of our very own Maths Recovery Journey! It was quite scary to show to other practitioners but it was very powerful evidence that Maths Recovery does make a difference. The child in question moved from a National Curriculum Level 1c to 2b in just 14 hours of teaching spread over one term.
Jill Piotrowski, Rosemary Anderson and Noreen O'Loughlin gave presentations using case studies from Wigan, Cumbria and Eire. It was interesting to see how the three different regions have implemented Maths Recovery in their different settings. Of particular interest was the huge impact it has had on the all teachers and pupils involved evidenced by the data which was shared.
Finally, it was a wonderful opportunity to catch up with people we had met from previous Maths Recovery Conferences. I look forward to the next conference and hope that it delivers the same 'whole' package which included the personal touch as well as the expertise that this conference delivered.