Outcomes in Our
Lee MacDonald and Carolyn Tavener
Malmsbury Primary School and Tylden Primary School both have improving student
maths outcomes as school priorities.
• Both schools planned to audit their maths curriculum.
• Both schools planned to have staff reflect on their teaching practices to see where
improvements needed to be made.
• We, Lee and Carolyn, decided that as we were planning similar things that there
would be value in having the staff from both schools working together.
• We have begun an audit process involving:
- surveys of students and staff.
- revisiting school documents such as policies, Strategic Plan and AIP.
- reflecting on AusVels Maths content strands to record areas we have taught/not
taught, areas we find easy to teach/hard to teach and resources we use regularly in
our classrooms when teaching maths.
Malmsbury Primary School is a small rural school about 15 minutes from Kyneton.
• In 2013 we have 81 students running four classrooms- P/1, 1/2, 3/4 and 5/6.
• I teach Grade 5/6 Mondays and Tuesdays. The other Grade 5/6 teacher works
• We have two part time Integration Aides.
• We have three specialist teachers (Art, French, Music) who each work one day a
Our Strategic Plan and AIP both have the Student Learning Goal “To improve student
learning outcomes especially Literacy and Numeracy for every child at Malmsbury PS.”
The focus for all our staff Performance and Development this year is to work on
improving the way we teach maths and to build a consistency of language across the
school amongst teachers and students.
Tylden Primary School is also a small rural school about 10 km from Kyneton,
Woodend and Trentham.
• In 2013 we have 99 students in four classrooms- Prep, 1/2, 3/4 and 5/6.
• I teach for 1 day per week.
• We have four full time and one part time teacher, and all are Expert teachers. We
have three part time Integration Aides.
• Our specialist subjects are taught by the staff already employed at the school.
Our Strategic Plan and AIP both have the Student Learning Goal “To improve Literacy
and Numeracy outcomes across all year levels.”
Like Malmsbury PS, the focus for all the Tylden staff Performance and Development
this year is to work on improving the way we teach maths and to build a consistency of
language across the school amongst teachers and students.
Staff and student surveys were developed based on surveys found on the South
Australia Department of Education website and DEECD auditing tools.
Teacher Attitude Survey questions
1. What is mathematics?
2. What is numeracy?
3. What are the three most important things in mathematics?
4. How do you try to convey these things to students you work with?
5. How did you feel about mathematics when you were a student?
6. How do you feel about mathematics now?
7. How do you use mathematics in your own life?
8. When is mathematics easy to teach?
9. When is mathematics difficult to teach?
10. How do you connect learning in maths to learning in other areas?
11. Do you think mathematics is important? Why or why not?
12. How would you rate yourself as a successful mathematician? Give
yourself a score out of ten and write why you gave yourself that score.
Observations Malmsbury Primary staff made about their completed teacher surveys.
Filling out the survey was -thought provoking, it was too broad, some of the
questions were SO big it was hard to get your teeth into it.
Many of us are carrying anxieties from our own schooling. Teachers have a life long
impact on us- positive and negative.
Whilst there was some overlap in our answers there were a lot of differences.
It is clear that as a school we need to have a conversation about what numeracy is,
what maths is.
What are our ( our school’s ) top three things in Maths? Need to talk about that and
make sure our students ‘get’ that too.
We need to build a common language around how we teach maths.
For the ‘successful mathematician’ question only one of us gave a high score.
Do we develop a mathematical comprehension ‘schedule’ like we have with reading
comprehension strategies? (visualising, synthesizing, predicting, cause & effect)
Student Attitude Survey questions
1. What is mathematics?
2. What are the three most important things in mathematics?
3. How did you feel when you do mathematics? Why?
4. Do you use mathematics at school? How?
5. At home? How?
6. When you play? How?
7. When is mathematics easy?
8. When is it difficult?
9. What do you do when you can’t work something out in mathematics?
10. Do other people in your family use mathematics at home or at work?
11. Do you think mathematics is important? Why?
12. Draw a picture of someone using maths.
Observations Tylden Primary students made in their completed surveys.
Three important things in Mathematics included maths ‘topics’ and
operations (such as multiplying, decimals and fractions) but also included
understanding it, the teacher, practice, remembering and thinking.
When our students can’t work out something in maths they suggest: ask
the teacher, put up your hand, ask a friend, try to figure it out, think
more, count on your fingers.
Almost all of our students think maths is important. Reasons include for
their future, to help you, for learning, for your job, you use it every day.
Our students do not distinguish between maths and numeracy.
Maths is perceived as easy when they understand, or have learnt
something really well and when they know how to do it.
Observations Malmsbury Primary staff made about completed student surveys.
Our students generally think maths is about number. They don’t mention
space, measurement, chance & data.
Our students tend not to make links between maths in the classroom and real life.
Our students tend not to make links between the different maths content areas.
Answers to Q3, “How do you feel when you do maths?”, show that for many of our
students how they feel are influenced by external factors such as noise in the
room, distractions, interruptions.
The drawings generally showed children ‘doing’ maths at school.
As a staff we wonder if, in our school, there is an optimum time for our students to
learn new skills? We could timetable new skills to be taught in that time slot.
Or, do we consider the idea that learning a new skill takes a lot of mental energy and
if our students are learning something new in maths that day they are revisiting a
concept in literacy.
We need to develop our students maths vocabulary.
Our next work will be to complete classroom visits and observations of
maths lessons in our own schools.
To bring our observations to a combined staff meeting of the two
schools to share what we have observed.
To find a common area to focus on and to begin visiting each others
classrooms in the other school.