It was interesting to hear first hand about Springmath colleague, Andrew Day’s experience of S Korea.

Do we teach to test or teach to educate? Well, in a sense, we need to do both. But perhaps the balance has gone too far towards testing and needs addressing. Certainly, we have to balance exams with what goes on in classrooms; we do need to assess learners, but there are a myriad of different ways of doing that.

My feeling is that in order to balance exams with what goes on in classrooms we need to assess learners in different ways. I saw Mike Ollerton at a maths conference talking about mathematics portfolios and arguing that too much assessment is conducted through testing. I'm especially impressed with the work of Malcolm Swan and his team on The Mathematics Assessment Project. There are lessons on this site that are brilliant examples of 'assessment for learning' in practice in mathematics lessons, as well as great ways to stretch and challenge pupils to extend their problem solving skills.

I see so many mathematics teachers trapped in a vicious circle where, because of the pressure to improve results, they resort to 'tricks' in order to get learners through the exam system, which means that they feel they don't have enough time to teach the underlying concepts. Pupils tend to come out of these classrooms believing that mathematics is about memory and procedure, and this can paralyze their ability to learn mathematics.

John Hattie backs this up; ultimately, if we are teaching maths for understanding, the improvement in exam results will follow. In a recent interview for BBC Radio 4 and in an article – Know Thyself - Professor Hattie outlines what can be achieved if we are brave enough to venture out from the vicious circle. It's a brave maths leader who, tasked with improving results, swims against the tide and does this by a relentless focus on mathematical understanding and pupils learning through, amongst other things group work and collaboration. He or she has a lot of persuading and selling to do to their SLT (senior leadership teams), as more and more jobs are on the line, based on the results from Mathematics and English teams. Nevertheless, teachers who are brave enough to break out tend to see improvements in results. I truly believe that, whilst intervention and tricks can bring results up in the short term, it is through the slow burn of improved teaching of relational mathematics that real change is within our grasp. A by-product of this will be improved results and outcomes for the students.

This is a difficult road to tread, even if you believe it in your bones, it’s difficult because everyone will be telling you different.

Do we teach to test or teach to educate? Well, in a sense, we need to do both. But perhaps the balance has gone too far towards testing and needs addressing. Certainly, we have to balance exams with what goes on in classrooms; we do need to assess learners, but there are a myriad of different ways of doing that.

My feeling is that in order to balance exams with what goes on in classrooms we need to assess learners in different ways. I saw Mike Ollerton at a maths conference talking about mathematics portfolios and arguing that too much assessment is conducted through testing. I'm especially impressed with the work of Malcolm Swan and his team on The Mathematics Assessment Project. There are lessons on this site that are brilliant examples of 'assessment for learning' in practice in mathematics lessons, as well as great ways to stretch and challenge pupils to extend their problem solving skills.

I see so many mathematics teachers trapped in a vicious circle where, because of the pressure to improve results, they resort to 'tricks' in order to get learners through the exam system, which means that they feel they don't have enough time to teach the underlying concepts. Pupils tend to come out of these classrooms believing that mathematics is about memory and procedure, and this can paralyze their ability to learn mathematics.

John Hattie backs this up; ultimately, if we are teaching maths for understanding, the improvement in exam results will follow. In a recent interview for BBC Radio 4 and in an article – Know Thyself - Professor Hattie outlines what can be achieved if we are brave enough to venture out from the vicious circle. It's a brave maths leader who, tasked with improving results, swims against the tide and does this by a relentless focus on mathematical understanding and pupils learning through, amongst other things group work and collaboration. He or she has a lot of persuading and selling to do to their SLT (senior leadership teams), as more and more jobs are on the line, based on the results from Mathematics and English teams. Nevertheless, teachers who are brave enough to break out tend to see improvements in results. I truly believe that, whilst intervention and tricks can bring results up in the short term, it is through the slow burn of improved teaching of relational mathematics that real change is within our grasp. A by-product of this will be improved results and outcomes for the students.

This is a difficult road to tread, even if you believe it in your bones, it’s difficult because everyone will be telling you different.