Richard Claydon is a newly qualified maths teacher at West Exe School – a mixed secondary school in Exeter. Richard has just finished his first year of teaching and was part of a trial for the classroom element of Sparx Maths.
How did you find trialling the classroom element of Sparx Maths?
Initially, I was very sceptical. As a newly qualified teacher, I was really worried that I was being told how I needed to teach my lessons and that I would have no freedom at all. I didn’t want to become a lazy teacher! But over time, I overcame those fears and quickly realised that Sparx Maths is a really useful tool with carefully written questions. It is really flexible; if you want to do something different with a lesson, then you can – just as you would with a textbook.
After a few lessons, I developed my teaching personality and made the lessons my own. Sparx has now become a seamless part of my lessons that flows organically. I can confidently say that I wouldn’t use Sparx Maths to the extent I do if it didn’t have such a strong calibre of questions. Knowing that each question has been hand-written and intricately designed ensures that I am teaching a high-quality lesson. Overall, it was a really positive experience.
How do you find your students interact with Sparx Maths?
They really enjoy it. Students are hugely motivated by the instant feedback which isn’t practical for teachers to give. I think that students, as well as myself, really appreciate being able to address misconceptions the moment they arise, rather than waiting until we go through the answers later in the lesson.
The extension and challenge questions for high attainers are brilliant. The content has been well thought through, and asking the same question from multiple angles is really good for testing a student’s understanding of a skill. This allows students to keep extending their genuine knowledge.
How did Sparx support you through the trial?
It was great to have two members of the Sparx Team as part of the maths department for the duration of the trial. Teaching can often become quite insular and it is easy to forget about other people’s points of view. I found it really fun to have another set of eyes in the department.
“ When I get something right, it makes me think I candoit”
West Exe School
What is the best feature of Sparx Maths?
As I previously alluded to, the best part of Sparx Maths is the strength of the questions. Beyond that, the immediate visibility of how students are doing and being able to instantly see how much progress they have made is fantastic. I also love that, in
a way, I can hold students accountable for their progress. I can easily show them how many questions they have attempted, if they have been inactive for a while and whether or not they have watched video tutorials, unlike any other resource. That evidence is great to motivate the more work-shy students and discover why they haven’t been working.
It is also great that the homework and classroom elements are so similar; students knew exactly how to use the classroom interface with virtually no training as they were so familiar with Sparx Maths Homework.
What advice would you give to schools thinking of joining the Sparx Community?
It is a really useful tool which plans really high-quality content for you. You are able to easily plan around this yet it takes away the need for you to spend loads of time searching for content online. You can spend more time planning other important things for your lessons, such as how you are going to model questions or teach content. It provides a really strong starting point for your teaching for the year.