Year 7 - ICCMAS project

We are delighted to be part of this prestigious Education Endowment Foundation funded mathematics research programme along with around 100 other schools. ICCAMS (Increasing Competence and Confidence in Algebra and Multiplicative Structure) is designed to teach algebra and multiplicative reasoning (e.g., percentages, ratios and proportions) to Y7 and Y8 pupils. Since September 2016, the maths department has been involved in extensive professional development and teachers are partway through delivering 40 evidence-informed lessons to the current Year 7. We are impressed with the response from pupils so far.

The project was piloted in 15 schools during 2010 and 2011 by researchers from King’s College London with funding from the Economic and Social Research Council. This study showed that students made about two years’ normal progress in one year.

The ICCAMS handbook offers plans for over 20 pairs of lessons to be used in Y7 and Y8. We are currently teaching lesson pairs c and d to Y7 and pairs x and y to Y8.  The lessons are designed to facilitate group and whole class discussions. The aim is to uncover existing knowledge and understanding and to require pupils to think and reason for themselves. The collaboration and discussion of models and representations aim to develop conceptual understanding of algebraic and multiplicative structures. ICCAMS encourages deeper understanding which will allow pupils to apply their knowledge and skills to increasingly challenging problems and to real world contexts.

If you see an ICCAMS lesson you will see teachers encouraging as much collaboration and dialogue as possible. Recording may be shared, e.g. on large pieces of paper, or transitory, e.g. on mini-whiteboards. The purpose of any recording will be to stimulate mathematical thinking around the models and representations in the ICCAMS lesson plan. Formative assessment is at the heart of ICCAMS with mini assessments delivered for each pair of lessons. By giving pupils time to engage with and talk about the mathematical ideas in the lessons, teachers have the opportunity to observe, checking pupils’ understanding, offering support where needed but also facilitating peer support.

The ICCAMS PD programme includes 9 days for two lead teachers who then cascade this training within the school. We have recently completed PD day x. The programme challenges the ways in which teachers deliver the lessons and supports them to develop their teaching practice. During PD sessions, teachers discuss lessons with colleagues and peers from other institutions to consider approaches for pupils. Once they have delivered the lessons, they come back together to reflect on how the lessons went and discuss experiences with peers from other institutions.  This then informs the cascade of training within the school, so that colleagues benefit from each other’s experiences.

The impact of ICCAMS on our 2016 Year 7 cohort will be evaluated by a team from Manchester University by measuring the progress made from each pupil’s Year 6 Key Stage 2 maths results to a specially designed assessment in summer 2018. In addition, the ICCAMS pre-test, delivered at the start of Y7 in 2016 gave teachers an indication of the variety of understanding of key areas of algebra and multiplicative reasoning. The regular mini-assessments and the lesson focus on formative assessment strategies means that teachers are much clearer about what pupils know and understand. The ICCAMS handbook includes additional extension lessons, short ‘revisit’ activities and alternative lessons so that teachers can modify the programme to suit the attainment of their groups. We are confident that this work will strengthen our KS3 mathematics provision and provide a secure basis for success at GCSE in 2021.