Story: Riley’s Story

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Riley struggled at school. He felt frustrated when he didn't understand and was reticent about putting up his hand to ask the teacher.

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.

Brooke Nolan Teacher, Parklands Primary

Eleven-year-old 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 and he found maths something of a challenge.

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

Riley’s teacher at Parklands, Brooke Nolan, explains: “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.

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

“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.”

Riley says: “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.”

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!”