Is Just Having The ‘Map’ Enough?

Posted in Inspiration & Ideas

In my role as an independent maths consultant, I am very fortunate to work alongside incredibly inspiring people who are determined to do their very best for the children they teach.

This Monday was the first day back after the half term break and I delivered a whole day’s training on ‘Developing Essential Number Sense’ to a fantastic group of primary schools in Halifax. Unusually, I then stayed in school the next day as a learner myself to find out about how the school have been implementing changes as part of their involvement with the ‘Maths Hubs’ national initiative. It was incredibly worthwhile and I came away buzzing with new ideas and eager to share what I’d found out. (Thank you so much for your time, welcome and enthusiasm Copley Primary!).

I now need time to really think about what I’ve learned. Whilst I have been thinking, I found myself reflecting back to how I spent part of half term on the beautiful Welsh coast and the parallels between planning a walk and planning our own ‘learning journeys’ as professional educators…

Is Just Having The ‘Map’ Enough?

As keen walkers, we own many OS (Ordnance Survey) maps. We’re always looking for new places to explore or better ways of experiencing places we already thought we knew well.

3d illustration of city map over white background

However, even with the detailed information given: the contours, symbols, labels and key, we often find it challenging to design my own walks especially when the territory is less familiar.

Instead, we often purchase local walking guides written by people who have explored the area extensively and are keen for others to gain a first- hand experience of something they’re passionate about.

These guides use the same information held on our map (and in many cases, there may be in fact a lot less detail) but the author’s insight, knowledge and love of the area enables us to access something we were unlikely to discover for ourselves.

Having walked using the guides, the OS map begins to make sense. We see the potential of developing our own versions of walks and even detour down new pathways we discover for ourselves along the way to suit our particular needs.

Tourist on the mountains background. Sport and active life concept

(I’m sure you see where I’m going with this……)

In order to operate with the level of skill and confidence we desire and need, just having the ‘map’ is rarely enough. As Primary Maths Teachers, we’ve all been given the ‘map’ (The National Curriculum) but in order to use it effectively, and gain real knowledge of the territory within it, we need access to high-quality investment in the form of inspiring and regular training opportunities. Accessing the valuable knowledge and insights of people who have studied an area of learning in great depth, and can help us see the many and varied paths we can create for ourselves, truly brings our ‘map’ to life.

So, are we all ready and willing to take the knowledge of the ‘local guide book’ (fellow teachers, consultants and researchers) and apply it to create our own exciting journeys following any great training we’re fortunate enough to access?


Karen Wilding works with schools across the UK and internationally to support high-quality maths teaching which builds teachers’ confidence and enjoyment and engages children in meaningful and challenging maths learning at all levels of attainment.

If you’d like to explore ways you or your local cluster of schools could invest in inspiring training please email Karen at

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  • ‘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!