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A problem shared: Finally a place for teachers to share good quality problem-solving resources

The 2014 national curriculum made problem-solving a key part of the UK’s maths lessons – a positive step given what we know about its importance as a future skill. Beginning in lower key stage two (KS2), it holds increasing importance as pupils move towards their GCSE and A level examinations.

Unfortunately, the introduction of problem-solving created a new problem for teachers – coming up with these quality problems in the first place. As our Solved! report revealed – good problems combine knowledge and skills, and the wrong kind of problem can mean pupils struggle and lose confidence. But this is a tall order for a time-poor teacher.

There are few opportunities for teachers to access and share high-quality problems

While some schools may have a bank of resources they can draw upon, others are not so fortunate.

Solved! identified the need to "stimulate the production of quality collaborative problem-solving resources and training from primary onwards" in order to support time-poor teachers and the growth of collaborative problem-solving in the classroom.

The report recommended that this tapped into expert institutions (e.g. subject bodies, ITT providers) as well as teacher-led practice in the classroom (e.g. via innovation prizes, or sharing platforms).

That is why we’ve partnered with Maths Circle and Time Table Rockstars led by Bruno Reddy (the fourth experiment in our collaborative problem-solving series), to develop and test a distribution platform for schools to allow them to share and access high-quality problems and develop their pupils' skills in this area. 

Between 50-100 teachers will trial a mock-up of this platform and provide feedback into the site’s usefulness and usability. If the platform is a success, and initial feedback is positive, 5,000 pupils are expected to benefit. 

We want to ensure this platform is as accessible as possible and free places will be given to five state schools to trial the platform for the first two years. Also, an anthology containing 10 high quality maths problem-solving activities, along with teacher support documentation, will be made freely available for teacher use. 

We hope in this way to expand the platform’s scope and reach and lead to the creation of a permanent platform for teachers to access and share problem-solving resources and promote the use of more collaborative resources.

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Future skills

Author

Maeve Croghan

Maeve Croghan

Maeve Croghan

Education Intern, Innovation Lab

Maeve was an education intern at Nesta in the Innovation Lab.

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