Lytton Street School: ALiM report

Number of
Year Initial stage
Final stage
Time in
4 3 1 student - stage 2
2 students - stage 3
1 student - stage 4
3 students - stage 4
1 student - stage 5
5x30mins weekly Targeted Learning
Group Programme

Advice for other teachers

  • After looking at the children’s data, ask yourself “What is going to be the most benefit for the child/ren to be targeted?”
  • Have a structured programme such as the Targeted Learning Group programme.
  • Send homework home as this gets the parents on board.

We are a consolidated decile 3 primary school with approximately 430 pupils. The Board of Trustees pays for extra teacher aide hours to work in the low maths classes, one year 5/6 and one  year 3/4 class. I chose four year 3 children to see if I could lift their learning. One of these children was a boy with behavioural issues who has a GSE funded teacher aide to help during the class maths. I decided on an afternoon slot. After testing, three boys and one girl were identified.

I decided that I would implement a Targeted Learning Group (Marilyn Holmes and Anne Lamond) programme as I had read about this programme in the Gazette and already had the necessary information about it. This suited the group I had, and kept me on track with a structured 30 minute, five days a week programme, starting at 2.00pm.

Initial testing quickly showed a very good place to start. There was a teen/-ty confusion for two of the four children.

The sessions followed a basic plan/routine

  • Count
  • Order
  • Say
  • Dictation
  • Basic facts
  • Revise known game
  • Revise known strategy
  • Introduce new game
  • Homework

Homework was an issue for three of the children because homework was lost, left at the other parent's house, or forgotten and then when it did come back it wasn’t done. After 2-3 weeks I let this drop.

The key I found was to keep it simple and not try to fix everything.

Count: We worked on FNWS/BNWS to 100, then 150, then 200. The children became confident quite quickly with counting forwards, however counting backwards took longer, as coming backwards over the 100 seemed to confuse them. I used the 100 board for visual assistance. When this was established we skip counted in twos, fives, and tens.

Order: I used packs of cards to 50, then to 100, and later to 1000 that had to be ordered. This helped further develop number understanding.

Doubles: To 10 then to 20.

Dictation: Hearing numbers  and forming numbers correctly and quickly.

Basic facts: Flash frames, using the listening in and writing equations. Various games, worksheets and activities were used to reinforce number knowledge and strategies. Most popular were Bingo, hundreds book (for quick finishers), Listening Tin, Snakes, Number Wheel, Rocket, and Money ($10.00 notes are great for skip counting in 10's).

I had to be careful not to move on too quickly, or go off on a tangent. I kept to the basics, showing and encouraging the transfer of knowledge. For example if 7 + 3 = 10, then 17 + 3 = 20 etc, and adding in tens, 3 + 10 = 13, so 13 + 10 = 23 etc. I kept cheerful and encouraging and expected good outcomes. If a child had some difficulty understanding we worked together at the end of the session after the others had gone.

Rather than use a journal I used my modelling book. I started a journal but found I was doubling up and repeating myself. It was good to refer back when a child did not understand, and the other children referred back to the relevant page.

Very early on in the programme I was able to give feedback to staff on ways that they could help children. I reminded them of the importance of:

  • FNWS, but more importantly BNWS (all the children I tested were slow and not confident doing this) especially back over 100
  • playing Bingo with quite a few numbers missing on the board
  • dictation for children unsure of writing the numbers - they need to form them correctly and quickly
  • connecting doubles and halves
  • imaging
  • in the year 1/2 classes, the need to get through about two stages a year.

On reflection:

I am going to run a Targeted Learning Group for a five week stint in term 1 next year (and probably each term). The short, sharp focused 30 minute sessions give the children confidence and help in their class lessons. These are the children who, for some reason, have not learned important pieces of knowledge. The children were keen to learn. Other children whom I tested and who were not included in the programme expressed the wish to be a part of it. All the children were keen and felt special because I, the teacher, was taking a special interest in them and their learning.

Re-reading and reflecting on Effective Pedagogy in Mathematics by Glenda Anthony and Margaret Walshaw for The International Bureau of Education, I realise that I demonstrated an ethic of care, I arranged for learning, I built on students’ thinking, I had worthwhile mathematical tasks, we made connections, I used assessment for learning, we had mathematical communication, we used mathematical language, we used tools and representations, and I used my teacher knowledge!