Abdullah didn't much care for maths until his school introduced Times Tables Rock Stars. Now he is so fast at multiplication, when he took on young maths minds from around the country, he came out number one!
For most people, an abiding memory of childhood is the relentless drilling of multiplication tables. Everyone – whatever their age – will have spent many hours at some point in their lives reciting their times tables. And, for many, it was a stressful, largely unpleasant experience.
Times tables, alongside reading, are an important stepping stone in education. Once a child has mastered basic numeracy and reading comprehension, learning other subjects tends to become much easier.
The age-old problem for parents and teachers has always been how to make times tables fun. Repeating lists of numbers over and over is hardly the most inspiring way to spend an hour.
This is the problem that was tackled head-on by teacher Bruno Reddy some years ago. He devised a novel way of improving the multiplication and division recall of his pupils that was fun and engaging.
With funding from SHINE, Bruno built a website that allowed children to answer maths questions against the clock. As they progress towards “rock legend” status, the children are rewarded with badges. They also compete against classmates and even other children around the world - an element of competition that encourages and inspires children to success.
Times Tables Rock Stars is now used by a high proportion of England’s primary schools and it is achieving fantastic results.
One of the recent converts to Times Tables Rock Stars is Marshfield School a large, two-form entry primary in inner-city Bradford. Marshfield’s catchment is in the top 20 per cent most deprived areas of England and the majority of its pupils are from an ethnic minority background, with many having English as an additional language.
Despite the challenges it faces, the school has been transformed in recent years.
“We’ve been on a real upward trend from the last, I would say, five years,” says Assistant Headteacher Scott Daykin.
“We had a new headteacher and things have just been improving and improving, especially our maths which is a real strength of the school.”