Minister Rabain On Math In Primary Schools

March 11, 2020 | 3 Comments

Minister of Education Diallo Rabain spoke in the House of Assembly today [March 11] about the Mathematics Intervention Programme that has been implemented in the island’s public primary schools.

Minister Rabain said, “In February 2018, I shared the Cambridge Checkpoint and IGCSE results for the 2017/2018 school year. During that press conference, I advised the public that our students were not performing at the expected standard for mathematics and this was a great concern.

“Subsequently, the following month, in March 2018, two specialists from Cambridge International visited our public schools to conduct observations in math classrooms and to facilitate training sessions designed to improve the teaching of mathematics.

“The Department’s technical officers used these recommendations as data for informed decision-making, in alignment with Plan 2022 Strategies 5.3.3 and 5.3.3.1, leading to the implementation of a comprehensive Mathematics Intervention Programme for the improvement of teaching mathematics across all of our primary schools.

“The mathematics programme at the Harrington Sound Primary School proved to be successful in improving the performance of their students. The school’s attainment for the Cambridge Checkpoints averaged 2.7 in 2019 with all P6 students included. However, after factoring out the scores of students who required access arrangements, the attainment average increased to 3.2. This attainment was notably higher than the 1.9 in the previous year.

“After one academic year, the mathematics intervention programme was contributing to an improvement in results for both Checkpoint, an international assessment, and the national math assessment.

“Consequently, the Department of Education contracted PAI Ltd. to build on this success with the wider implementation of a Mathematics Intervention Programme for all public primary schools. Primal Academic Innovations [PAI] Ltd is a team of school improvement professionals who have a strong track record of transforming schools that have underachievement in mathematics, to becoming centres of mathematics excellence.

“Since January 2020, the CEO of PAI Ltd., Mr. Adam Unwin-Berry, has been providing the Commissioner of Education with regular progress reports on the implementation of the mathematics intervention- programme. The deliverables outlined in phase one, which I just shared, are nearing completion.

“I was very encouraged by the most recent progress report the Commissioner shared with me during the last week in February. This is the what we are working towards – progress and transformation. I continue to say and will repeat as we move forward on this journey: it only takes one generation to transform our public school system and together – students, teachers, parents, principals and the community – we will all make this happen.”

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Mr. Speaker, Today I stand before you and my Honourable colleagues to share some of the exciting and transformative work that is now being undertaken across all of our primary schools to support and enhance the teaching and learning of mathematics in our primary school classrooms.

Mr. Speaker, Let me provide a brief backdrop for my Honourable colleagues, who will recall back in February 2018, when I shared the Cambridge Checkpoint and IGCSE results for the 2017/2018 school year. During that press conference, I advised the public that our students were not performing at the expected standard for mathematics and this was a great concern.

Subsequently, the following month, in March 2018, two specialists from Cambridge International visited our public schools to conduct observations in math classrooms and to facilitate training sessions designed to improve the teaching of mathematics.

I shared at that time in this Honourable House that during their visit, the Cambridge representatives held focused conversations with our students, teachers, principals and technical officers. They also visited several schools and made observations while students were learning in their respective classroom environments. Using the data collected, recommendations were made to the Department of Education on where to re-focus the direction of mathematics in our public schools.

Mr. Speaker, The Department’s technical officers used these recommendations as data for informed decision-making, in alignment with Plan 2022 Strategies 5.3.3 and 5.3.3.1, leading to the implementation of a comprehensive Mathematics Intervention Programme for the improvement of teaching mathematics across all of our primary schools. This intervention programme includes extensive professional development training in mathematics for our teachers to enhance and build on the quality of teaching and learning in the classroom; support and assistance for school principals; and, ultimately, we expect it to lead to the improvement of the Cambridge score results and other mathematics assessment results for our students.

Mr. Speaker, During the 2018/19 school year, the overseas consulting firm, Primal Academic Innovations Ltd. [PAI], was introduced to the Mathematics Teacher Leader at the Harrington Sound Primary School through a former PTA President of the School. Subsequently, financial support was received from the Bank of Bermuda Foundation, that facilitated PAI implementing a mathematics intervention programme at the Harrington Sound Primary School which included the same essential practices highlighted in the recommendations from the Cambridge representatives. These included:

  • Focus on conceptual versus procedural understanding;
  • Engage students more in talking, thinking and reflecting;
  • Scaffold less so that students build independent skills;
  • Allow students more ownership for their learning;
  • Encourage reasoning and problem solving;
  • Exercise questioning; and
  • Develop positive dispositions.

Mr. Speaker, The mathematics programme at the Harrington Sound Primary School proved to be successful in improving the performance of their students. The School’s attainment for the Cambridge Checkpoints averaged 2.7 in 2019 with all P6 students included. However, after factoring out the scores of students who required access arrangements, the attainment average increased to 3.2. This attainment was notably higher than the 1.9 in the previous year.

Mr. Speaker, The increase in student results for Harrington Sound Primary School students was also evidenced by the scores they achieved in the Department of Education’s common summative assessments in mathematics that students from P4 to P6 sat at the end of the 2018/19 academic school year. The math results for Harrington Sound Primary School were significantly higher compared with other primary schools.

Mr. Speaker, After one academic year, the mathematics intervention programme was contributing to an improvement in results for both Checkpoint, an international assessment, and the national math assessment.

Mr. Speaker, Consequently, the Department of Education contracted PAI Ltd. to build on this success with the wider implementation of a Mathematics Intervention Programme for all public primary schools. Primal Academic Innovations [PAI] Ltd is a team of school improvement professionals who have a strong track record of transforming schools that have underachievement in mathematics, to becoming centres of mathematics excellence. The PAI team has been responsible for transforming 31 primary schools in the North of England and the Midlands, from achieving low standards to exceeding the national average in all cases. The majority of these schools are now ranked in the top 5% of schools in the UK in regards to improved quality of teaching mathematics through training, resources, support and leadership development, which will ensure all schools are sufficiently equipped to support students to improve in mathematics.

Mr. Speaker, In January 2020, the PAI Ltd contract commenced to deliver in three phases, a comprehensive Mathematics Intervention Programme for all primary schools. The phases include the following:

  • Phase 1: January to March 2020 – training all primary school teachers on a mastery approach to teaching mathematics and align the mastery approach to learning with the Standards Based Grading programme; develop mathematics lesson resources for every primary class; introduce principals to an observation strategy and monitoring system; and, hold parent sessions with every primary school.
  • Phase 2: April to June 2020 –further training for all teachers; the provision of lesson plans and teaching resources; direct support for teachers with feedback; the creation of assessments; and support for parents and school principals.
  • Phase 3: September to December 2020 – create a “hub” of teachers who will lead and assist with math interventions at each primary school; develop capacity in the public school system to sustain intervention efforts; involve the modification of Standard-Based Grading pacing guides; and, review the impact of Phases 1 and 2.

Mr. Speaker, Since January 2020, the CEO of PAI Ltd., Mr. Adam Unwin-Berry, has been providing the Commissioner of Education with regular progress reports on the implementation of the mathematics intervention- programme. The deliverables outlined in phase one, which I just shared, are nearing completion. In addition, parent sessions have been held at all 18 primary schools and webpages for each school were established for access by principals, teachers and parents.

Mr. Speaker, I was very encouraged by the most recent progress report the Commissioner shared with me during the last week in February. The progress report was from the CEO of PAI Ltd. Mr. Unwin-Berry; and I want to quote an excerpt from his report verbatim as it relates to the P6 Math Booster sessions that were held

“The P6 event has been a huge success so far – I have had parents coming up to me in shops and in Hamilton over the weekend telling me how much the P6 event has boosted their child’s confidence in math”.

Mr. Speaker, P6 Booster Events are two-day sessions where a team of math education experts and P6 students across selected schools are brought together to work in small groups and address specific gaps in math learning. During mid-February the P6 Booster Event was held with Prospect, Elliot and Harrington Sound Primary Schools at the CedarBridge Academy.

Focus was placed on ensuring students understood and had a good knowledge of the Cambridge test questions. The team of math experts who assisted with the P6 Booster sessions were local tutors, P6 teachers and PAI/UK experts. This combination of expertise underscored an effective and sustainable model to raise standards in math for our primary school students.

Mr. Speaker, I was also privy to several photos of the P6 Booster Session shared by Mr. Unwin-Berry. What I saw stirred up a pounce of excitement within me. At one point during the sessions, the students were in groups sitting around several tables from which it was clear they were discussing and conversing. Then other photos showed them in huddle sessions spread out on the floor with flip chart paper, note pads and markers. Another set of photos showed some students at the flipchart in the front of the room.

Mr. Speaker, I saw engagement, I saw interaction and I saw participation. This is the aim of Plan 2022 Priority 1, “To increase academic rigour and student engagement” and Strategy 1.1, to deliver high quality instructional practices for students that are rigorous and foster knowledge, comprehension, critical and creative thinking, application and communication.”

Mr. Speaker, Let me also share with my Honourable colleagues, direct quotes made to Mr. Unwin-Berrey from students, teachers and parents about the P6 Booster Sessions.

    • Teachers: “Thank you for igniting the fire in our students.”

“What an amazing set up and so valuable.”

    • Students: “I never thought I would enjoy a whole day of math.”

“I didn’t know I could do this”; “I love learning this way.”

  • Parents: “Thank you, my child came home excited about math – I couldn’t believe it”; “My child has grown in confidence and now says she likes math!”

Mr. Speaker, This is the what we are working towards – progress and transformation. I continue to say and will repeat as we move forward on this journey: it only takes one generation to transform our public school system and together – students, teachers, parents, principals and the community – we will all make this happen.

Mr. Speaker, The expected outcome of the Mathematics Intervention Programme is to see our primary school teachers deliver high quality mathematics instruction and for our schools to become international centres for excellence in the teaching of mathematics. I believe this is possible. Improving the performance of our students in mathematics is a strategy directly linked to Plan 2022 and the transformation of the public school education. I will provide my Honourable colleagues with further updates as Phase 2 and Phase 3 of the mathematics intervention programme are rolled out from April to June, and September to December 2020, respectively.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I extend my heartfelt thanks to the Bank of Bermuda Foundation for partnering with the Department of Education in funding the Mathematics Intervention Programme for Primary Schools. I also thank school Principals and our teachers for their efforts and willingness to work collaboratively with PAI to improve the teaching and learning experiences for our students. This is a start to how our Public School System will progress forward on the transformative journey aligned with Plan 2022 – the strategic plan for our public schools and our children.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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Comments (3)

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  1. watching says:

    Well done Minister and the Ministry for implementing this program that seems to have benefited Harrington Sound tremendously.
    I look forward to seeing similar results in the other primary schools!

  2. Acegurl says:

    Mr Speaker,

    How many teachers, advisors, consultants etc, etc, does it take over so many years to bring government school children up to a passing grade? Look at the quality of the math teachers first and foremost. Teaching math to their students is their primary focus and they should be held accountable. Even the Minister has never been involved in educating children. The definition of insanity is alive and well in Bermuda’s government primary school system. Soooooo sad after all this time.

  3. Dunn juice says:

    How about flip flop furberts math.

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