Beaumont Maths Week

By Fiona Rosler

The idea to run “Beaumont Maths Week” arose after attending the Beaumont Teachmeet last November. I attended Sue Lutz’s seminar on “Raising the profile of your department” and came away feeling inspired. I wanted to do something that would get students thinking about the maths skills they were learning and how they could apply them in other areas, and also wanted to promote enthusiasm and excitement for maths around the school.maths cakes

We launched Maths week with an assembly where I shared the story of how I was drawn to the subject of maths when I was in school and the aspects of the subject which I found difficult. The idea of doing an assembly was quite a daunting prospect, but I knew that it would create the right kind of buzz about the subject and the activities that were coming up. I booked myself in for an assembly slot before I could overthink the idea and talk myself out of doing it so, although I didn’t sit down to properly plan what I would speak about until February half term, the thought process began months before and I always had a vague idea of what I wanted. I felt nervous before I began but once I started talking the story just came naturally. The high that I felt when I finished (and realised that people liked it) was amazing and it’s something I’m really glad I did.

maths cake 2There were various activities run during “Maths Week”. Because the idea had formed in my mind so early on in the year, I actually had a few months of being able to let ideas float around in my mind and decide what was good and what wasn’t, or what would work better than something else. This meant that when I sat down to actually write the challenges and questions I had a clear idea of what I wanted.

The staff questions were a big hit and I was so pleased with the response from so many different departments – who knew we had so many talented mathematicians? The competitive element obviously made it a bit of fun and I’m already thinking about more difficult questions for next year. It was really great the way staff talked about the quiz with their classes and the students who helped teachers couldn’t wait to come and brag about it to the maths department.

There were house activities for each year group and again, the response from these was amazing. It was great to see so many students working on problems together and to have students come up to me to chat about what they were doing and see the enthusiasm and excitement it had created.

There was the Numeracy based T&L Challenge which staff also got involved in and which really highlighted how numeracy skills can be transferred across subjects.maths cakes 4

As the finale, we ran a Maths-themed bake off and cake sale for the 6th form. This was the part I was most worried about as I knew that if there weren’t enough entries we couldn’t then have the cake sale that had been advertised. Believe it or not, I actually had dreams the night before about setting up a shop with nothing to sell, My fears were unfounded however – we had so many entries that looked and tasted amazing and the subsequent cake sale was so popular that it only lasted about ten minutes before we were completely sold out. We raised almost £90 which we donated to the National Numeracy Organisation whose work you can read about here.

maths cakes 3For the week to be successful, there was a lot to organise, but with everyone in  the lovely Maths Department pitching in, as well as the 6th form Maths Captains, all of the effort was definitely worth it. I was so pleased with the response from staff and students and am already looking forward to next year.

T&L Video Challenge (4) – Where were percentages used?

The Teaching and Learning Challenge this term coincided with Maths week, so naturally we aimed to include something mathematical across the curriculum. The challenge was to use percentages in your lesson – no matter what the subject. This is what some of our staff got up to:

Percentages in PE

“Students were asked to peer assess each others’ gymnastics performances and I had written a list of criteria on the board that had to be included. Students were then given a target board with 50%, 75% and 100% written on them in different sections of the target board. After watching each others’ performances, students had to indicate how much of the criteria was included in the performance. Students said they found this an easy way to feedback to each other and make a quick decision over something that they would normally take longer over. It also encouraged quick and easy self reflection.” Elena Dundjerovic (PE, Business and Economics).

Percentages in Languages

“I used percentages to jazz up a year 9 topic – talking about how much money they save and what they are saving up for. I wanted the pupils to engage with the vocabulary in a different way, and also hoped to increase their engagement. The previous lesson they had done some speaking practice and carried out a survey. The following lesson we looked at analysing statistics using percentages, based on a comprehension starter that I made. I think they found it challenging, especially as they weren’t expecting to be working out percentages in a German lesson. But by the end of the lesson they were fully on board and proud of the work they had done. It’s definitely something that I will try again, but next time I will think a little more about differentation from a Maths perspective, as I was surprised at how some of them struggled with the percentages.  It was, however, nice to see different pupils flourishing in the lesson because they could show off their Maths ability a little more, whereas they normally struggle with German.” Beth Ashton (MFL).

Percentages in English

“I got students to use percentages to work out how much of the Language GCSE each exam question was worth. The exam (total) is 60% which is a bit scary, so we broke it down to more manageable amounts.  It helped to show them where they needed particular focus as some questions had greater weighting towards the final outcome.” Frances Jackson (English).

“I simply asked students to convert their latest controlled assessment score out of 30 into a percentage. Two diligent girls found this straightforward as they scored 100%” Michael Tatham (English).

Percentages in Psychology

“We are doing the topic of statistical analysis in Psychology A2 at the moment and were discussing the common level of significance we use in psychological research, which is p˂0.05. The point the students needed to understand was that this means we can only ever be 95% confident that our results are not due to chance and there is always a 5% margin of error. This means that there is a 1 in 20 chance that our results are not actually statistically significant even if our statistical test says they are. This is all in the context of knowing which statistical test is appropriate for the kind of data and research being undertaken, which appears on our final A2 paper.” Carly Thomas (Psychology).

Teaching and Learning Challenge Video 4 – Percentages

As part of Numeracy week (9 – 13) March) the next Beaumont Teaching and Learning Video Challenge has a distinctly mathematical theme. So brush up your percentage skills and have a look at the ideas in the video from Fiona Rosler.

The Video Challenge slip is in the resources section on the home page (and for Beaumont Staff it will arrive in your pigeon hole).

So, in Challenge week, the aim is to:

T&L Challenge video1. Watch the video and do the challenge

2. Get a student in your class to sign the Challenge Slip (click on the picture for a link to the challenge slip)

3. Post the slip into the Challenge Box in the Staff Room

4. Have a chance of winning a ‘star’ prize the following week if their slip is selected from the Challenge box.


Remember to share your ideas from the challenge week by sending a  couple of sentences about what you did and maybe a picture and we can pull them all together in a future post.

Challenge week starts on Monday 9 March.

As mentioned in the video, listed below are some subject specific ideas for this challenge. We’ve chosen subjects in which it might not be immediately obvious where you can incorporate percentages in your lessons. If none of the ideas appeal to you, don’t forget that even small things like having students calculate assessment scores, examine grade boundaries or even take a short class survey are all positive ways of encouraging students to use their mathematical skills in other subjects.

English – Encourage students to vary their writing by counting the number of times a certain word or sentence starter is repeated within a paragraph or piece of writing. This amount can then be expressed as a percentage of the total words or sentences. This could also be applied to texts that are being studied by looking at repetition within various authors’ works.

Languages – A variety of class surveys could be done in the target language, incorporating the keywords of the current topic – e.g. Family, shoppin, travel. The results could be expressed as percentages and even put into a pie chart if you’re feeling creative! There could also be a “beat the teacher” challenge where the student comes up with a maths question based around percentages, but with the numbers written out in the target language, e.g siebzehn instead of 17.

Geography – A variety of class surveys could be done to gauge reactions to current events with results expressed as percentages – the students could work out the percentages themselves! Other relevant areas include population statistics of various countries, the natural resources present in various countries, the percentage of different components that make up soil and the percentages of different gasses in the atmosphere.

History – Percentages of casualties in wars from different countries and looking at how population stats have changes over time. Students could be asked to imagine they lived in a certain time period and asked to “vote” on various issues. Results of the vote expressed as percentages and a discussion where students must back up their arguments for or against an issue, substantiating claims with what they have learned.

Music – Looking at how record companies make profits and how they divide up profits between artists. Linking half beats and eighth beats to fractions and subsequently linking fractions to percentages.

Art – A somewhat basic way of incorporating some numeracy into your lessons would be to have an informal discussion with students about the percentages of different colours they would need to mix to create new colours. This could be done before, during or after a painting lesson – for example if you want a light purple colour would there be a higher percentage of red or blue? Would it matter? What percentage would white make up? Simple questions like this is a great way of encouraging students to think about mathematical concepts in a different context to what they are used to.

Textiles – Think about percentage profits (or losses) for fashion designers – why are some clothes sold for so much more than others? What makes a Primark dress different to a Vera Wang? Could discuss what kind of costs designers need to take into account, what kind of market they are appealing to, what kind of materials they use…and how does all of this affect their sales and ultimately their mark-up percentages?

RE/Ethics – Opinion polls on various issues, looking at results as percentages and having students back up their arguments. Looking at zakat as one of the pillars of Islam and calculating percentages that would be given to charity (thanks to CGr for this!).

Food tech – Examining and discussing nutritional content of foods and relating to the recommended daily allowances as percentages.

IT – Surveys/polls looking at proportion of people using different brands of PC, laptop, tablets. Looking at percentages of various age groups that use different social media sites.


Teaching and Learning Challenge Video 3 – Music

We know you have all been waiting eagerly for the next Beaumont Teaching and Learning Video Challenge. Well a new year and new term must mean that Challenge Week 3 has arrived.

The Video Challenge clip is posted here on the T&L Blog and also in the resources section on the home page.

So, in Challenge week, the aim is to:

T&L Challenge video1. Watch the video and do the challenge

2. Get a student in your class to sign the Challenge Slip (click on the picture for a link to the challenge slip)

3. Post the slip into the Challenge Box in the Staff Room

4. Have a chance of winning a ‘star’ prize the following week if their slip is selected from the Challenge box.


As always, we like to share ideas from the challenge week on the blog, so don’t forget to send us a picture (or maybe a link to the piece of music this time?) and a couple of sentences about what you did.

T&L Challenge Video number 3 is from music teachers Dave Guinane and Hanh Doan (@daveguinane@myhanhdoan and collectively @BeaumontMusic). Challenge week starts on Monday 12 January.


T&L Video Challenge 2 – What did we get up to?

The second Beaumont T&L challenge video led to rummaging in children’s toy boxes and dressing up cupboards for those hidden treasures which can really help to give a bit of a “zing” to a lesson – or which can mean that, as a teacher or a pupil, you leave the lesson with a large grin on your face after some all important fun.

Here’s what some staff at Beaumont got up to in Video Challenge Week 2:

Sue Lutz (Languages)playmobil1

“My GCSE German class had been looking at advantages/disadvantages of living in the town/countryside.  I raided my children’s Playmobil box and came up with a variety of figures which I positioned around the room – two construction workers, some animals, a person shopping etc. The class had to look at each display and write about it using the vocabulary that they had been learning.  It was very engaging as they thought it was fun.  It also allowed them to work at their own level, some students coming up with very complex ideas!”

Hanh Doan (Music and Languages)

mrwolf1“I had genuinely forgotten quite how motivated students became when given a slightly bonkers prop! A student brought in a wolf mask for a German lesson so we could play ‘wie spaet ist es; Herr Wolf?’ Students took turns to be the wolf so they could say the time in German, whilst others took the appropriate number of steps, counting in German, and of course, asking the time! I think it went well, though chaotic. The repetition of the game helps too.”mrwolf2

Alison Macdonald (Geography)

“We had been learning about the weather conditions associated with the passage of a depression.  As a plenary, I had an image of a depression on the board and marked on a series of letters.  When I called out the letter two pupils had to run to the back of the room and race to ‘dress’ for the correct weather conditions – there was a real buzz around the room.”

Elena Dundjerovic (Business and Economics)

EDu T&L Challenge 2“‪I enjoyed it thoroughly! My Year 12 students were put into 4 groups and I gave them each a toy buzz light year and told them to plan how to add value to it. One group made a girlfriend for him, one made him a mega suit which I took home to my boys and they loved! It really was great fun and fitted perfectly with my lessons.”

Sarah Lofthouse (Science)

“We had a debate about ‘insulin production’.  We had a doctor who would be treating a diabetic and currently treating using GM insulin (from genetic engineering); a couple of animal rights campaigners who were against using pig insulin; a stem cell researcher looking for a cure for diabetes using embryonic stem cells; pro life campaigners who were against the use of using embryos; and, finally, the devils advocate who helped drive the debate along and an alien beamed in from another planet to make the final decision about where insulin should come from. Very amusing!”SLo T&L Challenge 2

Helen Wilson (Maths)

“Year 8 were given different coloured fly-swatters to attack the fly which was projected onto the board with the correct answer in its body – the problem was choosing which fly to swat – there were 3 others on the board to choose from.” (Look out on the Advent Calendar for a photo later in December)

Ella Dickson (Maths)

“Ms Dickson used a fly on the ceiling to explain how co-ordinates were created. It was also good to have some background information [about Rene Descartes and Cartesian co-ordinates] to help us understand why we actually learn about co-ordinates.” Bethan Hughes (10L)

Finally, a message from Michael Tatham, generator of the T&L Video Challenge:

Challenge Invitation

What would you like to set as the next T&L Challenge in 2015?

If you have an idea that can ideally be applied across subjects and key stages, please let us know via twitter or as a comment on this article. Ideas will be published on on the blog and then from these the next challenge will be set! We look forward to hearing all of your ideas.”