What Makes a Magic Square twice as magic?!

Adam McBride’s Thoughts on my newsletter Magic Square Puzzle In my monthly newsletter for October 2021, I published the following Magic Square. It has the unusual property that if you square each number – it is STILL a magic square! I was very pleased that Adam McBride, legendary mathematician and lecturer sent me some very […]

Smart Motorways

Why should we be concerned about Year 3, and what on earth do Smart Motorways have to do with it? It all started in July 2021, during a call with Liz Thomas and Deb Ferris, maths consultants for South Gloucestershire LA. During the conversation, Deb mentioned that she was putting on some training specifically for […]

“I’m Stuck!”

For many children, it seems that even if their calculation skills are up to speed, being presented with a word problem can cause them to freeze in confusion as they struggle to make sense of it. For them, the issue is not doing the maths. It’s finding the maths to do. The question on the […]

Leadership: a Parable

I have a confession. I hate gardening. I don’t possess either the skills or the patience to create beautiful landscapes. It feels like I’m putting in huge amounts of effort for little return. Here is a true example. Years ago, when we moved into our current house, I bought my wife a young apple tree. […]


Subject Association Conferences Reflection, April 2021 Easter is the time when both the Mathematical Association and the Association of Teachers of Mathematics (I know, I know) hold their residential conferences. This year of course that simply wasn’t possible so they heade online instead. I have to say that both did an exceptional job under the […]

The Power of Gateway Questions

I’ve been experimenting with something I’m calling ‘Gateway Questions‘ this morning. This has come about because I am working with a KS2 class who have a huge ability range, perhaps as much as the equivalent of 4 NC years. This is not unusual in many classrooms, sadly. The truth is that a ‘whole-class’ Mastery approach […]

How Should a Recovery Curriculum Look?

So What Now? Catch-Up? Recovery? Or ‘Business as Usual’ ? I must admit I’ve been thinking A LOT about this since the new year. Come the 8th March, the vast majority of our children will be returning to us full-time.  Children and young people are anxious enough at the moment. They have missed school, missed their […]

Are we Dividing Wrong?

So I’ve been thinking really hard for a few years now why it is that children seem to get so confused by division. I’m not saying I have the full answer yet, but I do think that it might be a lot to do with the fact that for some reason we usually introduce division […]

Reflections of 2020

So today we finally say goodbye and good riddance to 2020. We marked it with a lovely walk up on Devil’s Dyke (see photo above). My natural tendency is to look for the positives, but that can feel a bit forced, and a bit ‘everything is marvellous’. For me, the secret is probably the way […]