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Independent UK and International Early Years and Primary Maths Consultant, Conference Keynote Speaker, Published Author, BBC ‘Live Lessons’ Maths Expert. NCETM (National Centre for Excellence in Teaching Maths) Accredited Trainer.

Hi there, I’m Karen! Passionate about changing how people feel about maths, lover of the outdoors and partial to a nice sit down overlooking a beautiful view with a glass of ‘something nice’ in hand.

In a previous life I was an overworked Primary School Teacher, ‘run-off-my-feet’ senior leader and later ‘dabbler’ in local authority consultant work (before deciding that the classroom was where I felt most at home). In 2009, fuelled by the desire to help other teachers and senior leaders make a similarly dramatic journey to my own from ‘maths hater’ to ‘maths lover’, I made the (big and scary) decision to set up my own business and share what I’d learned as widely as possible. It’s been an amazing ten years so far!

I don’t have a typical week anymore (a big change from my life as a teacher). I travel extensively supporting schools across the whole of UK, within Europe, the Middle East and as a far away as Kazakstan, where I deliver bespoke whole-school training, speak at conferences, work with senior leadership teams and support groups of teachers.  I learn as much as I teach others in this role; listening to teachers concerns and worries regarding their maths teaching, feeling the frustrations of constant change and looking at the many ways schools around the world respond to these challenges.

My experiences have taught me that in order to improve, the following areas MUST be our priority:

  • Subject Knowledge is Key: Improving practitioner (including support staff) subject knowledge must be given the highest priority (and is currently an area of real need in most schools whether its recognised or not)   
  • Fluency Is Impossible Without ‘Number Sense’: This isn’t a term I was familiar with when I was teaching and it turns out I failed to teach any of my children the skills I now know constitute this essential ‘tool box’ of skills. What’s most worrying is that most of my children still did well in their tests. I taught them to work mechanically rather than giving them true mathematical understanding. I now know that ‘game-changing’ approaches such as subitising, unitising and effective use of concrete resources and pictorial representations are ESSENTIAL tools to secure fluency and we must begin the Early Years.       
  • Building a Whole School’ Maths Mindset’: The fact is that EVERYONE with a healthy brain can learn maths well. It’s true that some individuals will learn maths to a higher level, but beginning with the scientific fact that human beings are highly mathematical is essential. What we need to know is what the essential ingredients that bring about success in maths are. Do you know?  
  • You Learn Maths to Live a Better Life!: Mathematics underpins every part of our lives and when we recognise and appreciate this we are motivated to learn aspects of the subject that may at first feel challenging. Children need to be shown the purpose of learning procedures before being asked to learn the procedure itself. When you know that comparing digit numbers  is the skill you’ll use to find out which holiday is better value you can guarantee most of us will see the benefit in this!
  • Accredited ‘Standard Holder’ of the NCETM (National Centre for Excellence in Teaching Mathematics)

  • Regular Conference Speaker (UK and international)

  • Co-writer on National Curriculum for Maths support materials for UK DfE (Department for Education) and NCETM

  • Co‐writer for the Bahrain National Numeracy Strategy 

  • Co-author of ‘Primary Mathematics in Action’ 

     

    Author ‘First Reference Maths’ book published by Penguin/Dorling Kindersley

    Writer for Teachwire and NCETM magazines

    Writer for NCETM EYFS Mastery Expert Lead Practitioner Materials

  • Trained in Japanese ‘Lesson Study’ approach to mathematics, Tokyo  

    Reggio Emila trained, world class approach to Early Years 0-6 years, Italy

  • Active member of UK mathematics’ associations: NCETM, ATM, MA and NAMA

  • ‘One of our EYFS Teachers has just attended this training and came back totally inspired and singing your praises. She said that she learnt more on this course than any course she has ever attended!’

     

    C Magnocavallo Head of Maths, Chesham Preparatory School, Bucks

  • Thank you for showing us HOW to change. So many courses just tell us what isn't working but not how to go about addressing this. Your approaches make so much sense! 

  • Just to say thank you again for 3 really brilliant talks at SGIS. We're a small school near Basel and we’d be interested in anything you’re doing nearby (Zurich way) so please let us know!