CfESEND Blog: Engaging and Motivating staff for Maths and English Skills development

Nicola Lace, from Weston College explores the importance of investing time to identify the best methods to motivate and engage learners.

“He´’s not very good at maths but will make a great hairdresser!”

A familiar phrase, and one that might resonate as a teacher in post-16 education. With more than one third of 16-year-olds failing to achieve a grade C/4 in recent years, this data can feel depressingly low. With maths and English being two of those subjects that can make teachers and learners run for the hills, motivation and engagement to teach and embed can often be low.

Weston College are excited to announce that the ETF have commissioned an additional centre for Excellence in SEND maths and English. This is a fantastic opportunity to work together as a sector, share best practice, learn from each other, and have dedicated opportunities for outstanding continuing professional development (CPD) with a focus on engaging and motivating staff to make maths and English everyone’s business.

Within this new supportive collaboration there is a range of CPD programmes focusing on the delivery of maths and English within Further Education, supporting and guiding practitioners with evidence-based skills and resources to improve the quality of their mainstream vocational provision, to ensure that it meets the requirements of those with additional needs.

Sessions will focus on a range of neurodiverse needs, as well as how to assess and strategise for learners within mainstream vocational provisions who may display traits of certain additional needs, but do not receive high needs funding. The impact of this training is that staff will feel empowered to make changes to current delivery methods, leading to a notable increase in learner achievement and progression. Two dedicated sessions will also focus on the role of a support worker and how we can effectively utilise the expertise that this role can offer.

Weston College are now two years into “making maths and English everyone’s business” and we hope to share some of our key learning and mechanisms for upskilling and supporting staff through our delivery.

Some examples of the engagement and motivation for maths and English skill development include:

  • Investing time to understand what topics staff felt unconfident in delivering.
  • Identifying reading levels learners would need to access maths papers, looking at grades and the correlation between staff’s own results and their attitude towards maths and English.
  • Value of reconsidering all functional skills into the SEND department redesigning different modes of delivery from the alternative classroom to functional skills ladder groups, building blocks groups, to 1:1 interventions.
  • Pairing staff to the area of responsibility they would have, based on their own expertise.
  • Implementing structured CPD sessions for all staff regarding improving Maths and English.
  • Putting English and maths on the agenda at every team meeting, helping to improve communication and keep maths and English on everyone’s mind. Dissolving the barriers between “them” and “us”.
  • Creating opportunities for open discussion around English and math’s strengths and weakness that students were exhibiting  
  • How to tackle any issues collaboratively and in a timely way (attendance, engagement, motivation, behaviour) 
  • Reviewing planning approaches to share problem solving approaches.
  • Introducing weekly maths and English themed words with the aim of vocational staff planning this into their weekly sessions. For example, the buzz word might be measuring, and then we would expect to see an example of this within all vocational lessons that week.
  • Use of technology to support collaboration
  • CPD session for all staff regarding improving maths and English.
  • How to use the functional skills criteria to support a “universal language for all”.
  • Effective differentiation.
  • Effective use of support in the classrooms to support maths and English.
  • Building a culture that celebrated maths and English teaching as much as results.

CPD opportunities through the Centre for Excellence in SEND maths and English include:

  • Social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) Anxiety around English– Common anxieties around English and where they stem from, including common behaviours and strategies to overcome them.
  • SEMH Anxiety around Maths- Common anxieties around maths and where they stem from, including common behaviours and strategies to overcome them.
  • Additional SEND needs- opening up your maths curriculum – A session exploring common additional needs which commonly prevent learners from accessing maths curriculums.
  • Additional SEND needs- opening up your English curriculum- A session exploring common additional needs which commonly prevent learners from accessing English curriculums.
  • Innovative Teaching methods and modes of delivery in English – A blended session to outline different modes of delivery in English and the impact they can have on meeting individual’s needs. Outstanding practice through on location web cameras will allow access to Weston Colleges alternative classroom.
  • Innovative Teaching methods and modes of delivery in maths –  A blended session to outline different modes of delivery in maths and the impact they can have on meeting individual’s needs. This session will have a particular focus on planning for learning.
  • What makes an effective workforce in tackling maths and English (Support staff) – Session on Leadership in English, staff and student behaviours and how to use support workers to support these needs
  • Cross collaboration and effective planning (Support staff)
    This session will focus on how to plan effectively across college and what support is needed to make this as inclusive as possible. We will explore how effective intervention can be used to raise the success of English and Maths alongside how support workers can be invaluable in this process.

You can book onto these development opportunities via the ETF Course booking system.

 Other upcoming CfESEND events:

The alternative Classroom with Zoe Bodely – 24 November

Wellbeing at Weston with Sam Mayhew/ Ben Knocks – 1 December

Delivery at AOC SEND Conference – 7 & 8 December

We also have a wide range of fortnightly hot topic webinars and focus groups commencing at the end of December.

Leading SEND, Sharing our Trauma Informed Approach

Webinar 1: Bravery – Creating the Space

17 Jan from 12.30- 1.30pm

Webinar 2: Listening – The gift of curiosity in leadership

31 Jan from 12.30- 1.30pm

Webinar 3: Self-care – Authenticity and Celebration

14 Feb from 12.30-1.30pm

There will also be a round up with an “in discussion” webinar featuring Dr Paul Phillips and Kathryn James in March, so stay tuned to book.

You can also book onto any of these via the ETF Course booking system.

If you would like to find out more about the work of our CfE in SEND (People) or would like to work collaboratively with the CfE, we’re keen to hear from you, so get in touch with your suggestions and ideas.

For further details of the ETF Centres for Excellence in SEND, webinar recordings, resources and toolkits visit the dedicated CfESEND page of the ETF website.


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