'Championing the rights of children'

Translating maths in a multicultural school community

Garry Wed 05 Mar 2014 09:03

English is the second language at Sacred Heart primary school, but specially designed learning programmes and an inclusive environment enable students to thrive.

Imran holds up a magnifying glass and examines a piece of paper. "Turn half a turn anti-clockwise," he confidently reads to the teaching assistant (TA). "And which way is anti-clockwise?" the TA asks. "Left," he says without hesitation.

Imran is taking part in a "Talking Maths" intervention. Along with the other two children in his group, his maths skills are below the standard they should be for his age and his teachers are giving him extra support.

Talking Maths is a 10 week educational programme designed to help children with speaking and listening skills in a maths context. The children in the programme are struggling with maths not because they have a numerical competency problem, but because they lack the vocabulary to follow along with the teacher. It has been specifically designed for children who have English as an additional language (EAL).

"Because English isn't spoken at home, they don't experience all the vocab. The more you can embed it and repeat it, the more they learn," says Trudy Rennie, learning support practitioner who leads the Talking Maths programme. "It's mainly to close the gap in their learning so they can engage in the lesson, and so they can feel valued because they've got the language there and they're not frightened to speak out."

Read more... (The Guardian - 5 March)