National Maths Conference, September 2014

This Saturday saw the second National Maths Conference in Kettering hosted by Mark McCourt (@emaths) and La Salle Education, sponsored by AQA. It was great to catch up with what are quickly becoming old friends & meet some lovely, inspirational people who have only previously existed in the form of Twitter avatars. They’re real!.

There was, as last time, maths cakes galore and lots of inspirational, entertaining and thought-provoking workshops to choose from with the added draw of the actual Johnny Ball. I think I chose more wisely this time and can honestly say I took something away from each.

I’m not going to critique the conference in this blog post. Not because I don’t have views or that I’m shying away from expressing them but the usefulness of such conferences does genuinely boil down to your experience & context & how well your choice of workshops are transferable or useful. All I will say is I admire Mark’s philosophy on education, I love the look of Complete Maths and the opportunity to network & share best practice for nothing is an awesome & immeasurable opportunity.

What I did want to do is just quickly blog a few of the notes I took in terms of things I want to investigate in more depth in case you didn’t make the same workshops as me & there’s anything of interest to you; here are the 15 things I’m taking away from the day (there’s a lot of Johnny Ball!!)

1) Loved Mel Muldowney & Christian Seager’s from Just Maths tracking grid for pupils across KS4. Nice visual reminder & record of their progress across time stick to their folder (or book).

2) Also loved the idea of using any under allocation teachers across the school for Intervention in core subjects. Mel has detailed more about her intervention strategies in this blog post

3) Quote of the day from Johnny Ball describing an over prescriptive curriculum as “to be quite frank, complete bollocks”

4) Johnny left me wanting to find out more about the ancient Babylonian tablet Plimpton 322 which I have via it’s Wiki page and sadly it answers my question that it’s not anywhere where I might be able to go and see it

5) May have been living under a rock but never seen this visual proof of consecutive triangular numbers making a square number either.


6) Loved the idea of demonstrating algebraic expressions such as (x+1)(x-1)via the use of a multiplication square too.

7) Need to research the Mesolabe Compass in more depth. (This YouTube video is a good starting point)

8) Parabolic curve calculator: say what. How. Why? Need time…and pencil & paper!


9) Rectangles in parabolic curves have a third above the curve and two thirds below. Need to find time to get my head around both. If anyone can give me more detail about what he was meaning here it may save me lots of frustration. He was being dragged off stage at the time!

10) Need to read Teach Like A Champion as recommended by Bruno Reddy

11) Need to really think about splitting commonly confused topics in our scheme of work (e.g area & perimeter) as touched on by Bruno & also later in Kris Boulton’s session. Makes absolute sense.

12) Love this wordle analysis if the current GCSE specification from William Emeny’s great site. May have a play and make one for the new spec to compare.


13) As I move in the next few months to leading my department in drawing up a new scheme of work for GCSE I liked Kris Boulton’s analogy to think “like a user, not an engineer” when scheduling topics.

14) Missed her session with so many lovely looking props but Julia discussed these; been a long time since I’ve done calligrams with pupils. This needs rectifying!

15) My final thing I’ll take away goes right back to the start to Vanessa Pittard’s presentation and it’s the reason we do this crazy, wonderful, exhausting, entertaining job; to give kids life chances.



  1. srcav · September 30, 2014

    Great post, thanks for sharing. You were in all the same workshops as me! how bizarre!

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