Michael Brown is a Y5/6 teacher and Maths Lead at Kelsey Primary School and wrote this following PLC5, where the reading: Changing lives and providing equity through pre-teaching and assigning competence – Ruth Trundley (taken from www.atm.org.uk July 2018) was shared.

Pre-learning sounded counter-intuitive at first. Why should I teach something I’m going to teach to the whole class moments later? Surely they will then memorise the answers and only give the impression they understood the concept. And where am I going to find the time/space/cover to do this in the morning when we have 100 or so other jobs to complete?

However, I was soon convinced not just by what I witnessed in lessons, but also by the comments and feedback from my own class.

I began by sampling 6 children within my Yr 5/6 class, all 6 being lower-middle ability students, giving 3 pre-teaching for the lesson that day (group A). The other 3 were planned to be caught up in intervention the same afternoon (group B) as was standard practice. I set my class an independent reading exercise then began explaining the concepts to group A. We were looking at multiplying simple fractions, and I explained the method in advance while also reminding them of the vocabulary we would be using and demonstrating a few misconceptions. This whole process took between 10-15 minutes and was entirely within the classroom. Even though one child in group A still didn’t understand the process I ended the intervention as I needed to continue with the lesson.

The lesson continued as standard, ending with a plenary where I assessed the knowledge for the children in groups A and B. 2 of the members in group A understood the concept well and could explain their reasoning behind their answers. 1 in group B was confident and the remaining members in both groups had some understanding of the concept. During that afternoon, the students in group B were taken out of classes and provided intervention. This resulted in 2 being confident with the concept at hand and one still being unsure thus balancing the groups.

However, the following day I assessed all the children’s knowledge of the concept and found the children in group A had fared better than the children in group B. Of the 3 children in group A, 2 still remembered the previous days learning and could (with minimal prompting) explain the concepts taught. This was in contrast to group B where only 1 could remember the learning fully and the other needed serious prompting to explain the concept. Both groups had one member who still didn’t understand the concept.

On the surface you could argue that the results were fairly similar and that pre-teaching was as effective as afternoon intervention. However, upon asking the children their views the response became clear. Two children commented that they preferred it because afternoon intervention took them out of the lessons they enjoyed the most (usually PE or Art). All 3 of the children in group A said they also enjoyed having an understanding before the lesson started (one describing it as like a ‘secret club’) and felt more confident in putting their hand up for the lesson. Indeed, my TA noticed that these children who usually stayed quiet in lessons were a lot more eager to take part in the lesson. Finally, I asked my class would they prefer pre-teaching in the morning or intervention in the afternoon and they overwhelmingly voted for pre-teaching.

While in this (admittedly small) study I found little difference in the children’s attainment for a confidence booster it worked wonders. It meant that the children who needed help didn’t disrupt the pace of the lesson as much, they didn’t miss the lessons they enjoyed (thus increasing their overall enjoyment of school) and they felt more a part of the lesson at hand. A side note is that one child did mention that they would personally rather just get started and get it ‘over and done with’ and this could be an issue with some children in which case traditional intervention could work better.

The next stages are endless. While pushing this throughout the school is obvious, there are other possibilities such as providing my high-ability children with pre-teaching so we can jump straight to mastery. Maybe give the class a brief overview and offer the pre-teaching on a voluntary basis to whomever wants it, irrespective of ability. I look forward to seeing where this progresses in the future!