Riley’s Story: Inspirational film nominated for award

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Meet 11-year-old Riley. He is one of almost one million children to have been helped by projects SHINE has supported.

Riley attends Parklands Primary in Seacroft, Leeds, one of the most deprived parts of the city, where more than a third of children are in low income families. Until a few years ago, Riley had struggled at school. However, thanks to an inspirational headteacher and the introduction of a SHINE-backed educational tool, his maths skills have blossomed. Indeed, his whole outlook on life has been transformed, as he looks forward to a bright future.

“I didn’t really enjoy school because I didn’t get anything and I always had to ask someone to help me,” Riley explains in our film. “It was really frustrating. I just felt like I didn’t want to do it anymore.”

Riley lives in Seacroft, Leeds

Riley’s teacher at Parklands, Brooke Nolan, says: “I think that he was struggling because he just wasn’t really interested. He was quite shy so he didn’t tend to put his hand up – he wouldn’t like to put himself out there.

“So, we were searching for an intervention to help and we found Times Tables Rockstars.”

Times Tables Rockstars is a fun, yet carefully sequenced, programme of daily times table practice. Since SHINE got involved several years ago, the format has become hugely successful and has now been used in more than 14,000 schools.

Its creator Bruno Reddy explains: “I came up with the idea of Rockstars about nine years ago, in my classroom, because I had a group of 30 Year 7s and they didn’t know their times tables and that was hindering them making progress in maths. When SHINE came in it gave me that opportunity to go beyond the perimeter of my school into many others.

Bruno Reddy, creator of Times Tables RockStars

“I am so proud to be associated with SHINE because we’re on the same page, we share the same mission of having an impact and creating something that’s going to make that difference.”

Miss Nolan says: “Times Tables RockStars can be used as a way of making children  see that maths can be fun.

“Projects like Times Tables Rockstars really work for children like Riley. His knowledge and love of maths now has helped him in other areas of the curriculum. He’s helping other children with their times tables – he’s really become a role model. I know he’s got the ability to do whatever it is that he wants to do and I know that he’ll succeed.

Teacher Brooke Nolan

Riley tells us: “I didn’t really like maths before Times Table RockStars came, now I’m really good at it. It just pushes people to do the best of their ability and if you practice that much, it’ll make you good at maths.

“I’m much happier at school because I can do stuff myself without asking anyone to help me. It just makes me feel like my confidence has grown.”

And it is not just Riley who has made massive progress. The whole school has benefited.

“Maths attainment four-and-a-half years ago, when I first started, was rock bottom,” says inspirational Parklands headteacher Chris Dyson. “Now we fast forward four-and-a-half years and we’re in the top one per cent of schools in the country and this all comes through by using times tables to create a love of maths which then actually spreads across the entire curriculum.”

Riley has attained the title of Rock God!

The last word must, of course, go to Riley. “It has taken me two years,” he says, “but now I am a Times Table Rock God!”

The film Riley’s Story has been nominated for the Charity Film Awards. Please cast your vote by clicking here.