Music Survey – Can you help?

A colleague is carrying out a research study on music education in Scottish primary schools.

If you teach in a primary school and have 5 minutes to spare they would be very grateful if you could take the time to complete this survey.

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It’s not goodbye but see you later!

Today we sadly bid farewell to Seonaid who has been with the team for the past two years but as the title says hopefully it’s not goodbye but see you later!

Our positions are funded from various different sources and for reasons out with our control the funding that was allowing three of us to be out of class is no longer available and with a heavy heart one of us had to go back to class.

I feel like the last two years have been a bit of a whirlwind and as we’ve had to write various evaluation reports over the last few weeks it’s been a good opportunity to reflect on what we’ve achieved.  There are a vast array of resources and materials now available Highland wide and beyond that have only been made possible due to working in such a close knit team.  We are all quite different in some respects and all fiercely opinionated which as you can imagine makes for some fantastic discussions and in my opinion plays a vital role in terms of contributing to our improved understanding as a team and the quality of content that we produce for Highland and beyond.

Seonaid is, quite rightly, a strong advocate for ensuring pupils understand and enjoy mathematics and learn in ways that actually makes sense to them.  She’s been the driving force behind a lot of the Story Problem, Counting Collections and Choral Counting work we’ve been doing over the last few years and I’ve personally benefitted hugely from throwing myself into this whole heartedly and using it alongside the Highland Numeracy Progression.  We’ve seen some phenomenal progress with both children’s confidence, enjoyment and understanding as well as teacher enthusiasm for these approaches.

Seonaid is also very passionate about the Early Years and has been involved in this work in Highland for as long as I can remember and I’ve been very fortunate to learn a huge amount from her in that respect too.

Seonaid, you are widely respected and valued for your knowledge, passion and enthusiasm and I know the schools you’ve been working with are bitterly disappointed to see you go and I’ve no doubt you feel the same.

I hope we can continue working together in some capacity moving forward and hopefully one day the team will be back together again!

It’s been a pleasure Seonaid.

To everyone else, we hope you have a well deserved break!  Happy Holidays!

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CPD: Recordings from the SMC Online Conference 2021

If you missed us at the recent Scottish Mathematical Council Online Conference or our sessions clashed with other sessions you were attending but you still wanted to access the materials, we have now put links to the three sessions we delivered on the CPD section of the blog but for convenience have also added them here with a brief summary of what we were presenting on.  Click on the images to go to the session recording.

Counting Collections

Seonaid and Julie delivered a session on Counting Collections exploring how this can encourage all pupils to gain confidence in counting and develop better number sense.  It shares reflections from staff and pupils in Highland with the aim of showing how engaging, challenging and inclusive this activity is when supporting children working within Early to Second Level.

SMC Counting Collections Screenshot

Building Better Basics

Sarah presented this session based on work she’s been exploring over the past few years.  The presentation uses pupil work from all across Highland from projects that Sarah, Julie and Seonaid have been leading.

The presentation explores why some pupils may struggle to retain their basic facts if the starting point is not quite right, i.e. too abstract before solid understanding has developed.  It looks at the importance of building strong foundations through sense making, word problems and concrete materials/visuals/pupil drawings as well as making connections to prior knowledge.  It then looks at building on these strong foundations supporting pupils to develop fluency and apply their understanding with the overall aim of improving long-term understanding and retention.

SMC Building Better Basics Screenshot

Fractions Progression

Sarah and Andy (Northern Alliance) presented this session based on work that Sarah and Julie have been undertaking over the past few years.  The presentation uses work from pupils across Highland in schools where we’ve been running projects related to fractions.

The session explores a progression in fractions from Early Level to Second Level with particular focus on the measurement and quotient subconstructs.  The ideas shared aim to support pupils to make sense of fractions rather than just learn procedures to answer questions without necessarily developing strong understanding.

We are currently working on an update to the Highland Numeracy Progression and a fractions progression forms a large part of this update.  It has been a long time in the making… Sarah and Julie originally started this work back in 2015 but due to a number of other commitments and setbacks it has yet to be finished.  We are a lot closer now though and hope that we can share it more widely in the not too distant future!

SMC Fractions Screenshot

We hope you enjoy them and as ever if you notice any mistakes or disagree with anything we’ve said then please do get in touch.

For more of our recorded CPD, check out our CPD page.

If you want to take a look at other presentations that were delivered as part of the SMC Conference then you can find the presentations here.

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CPD Recording: Understanding Number: Part 1 (Early Level)

Happy Friday everyone!

If you didn’t manage to catch the live session of Understanding Number: Part 1 which was exploring number at Early Level then fear not, we’ve now added the recording to our CPD page.

You can access it directly by clicking on the image below:


If you want to check out the other 5 Early Level sessions in this series, click here.

Don’t forget that Part 2 of Understanding Number at Early Level will be running on:

Tuesday 23rd March at 4:15pm – 5pm.
Details/sign up can be found on the CPD calendar or the Highland Digital Hub training calendar.

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Evaluation of Live and Recorded CPD – Please help!

Education Scotland are evaluating the benefits and impact of the delivery of the STEM Grants Programme.

Highland were fortunate to receive funding as part of this and one element of how this was used was to put together the live and recorded CPD sessions that we have made available both within Highland and beyond.  

More recently, we’ve also been putting together some short videos (5 – 10 minutes) on our YouTube channel that are aimed at pupils but can also be used for staff CPD.  This is part of a wider project and explaining the rationale is beyond the scope of this post but if you have accessed the videos or quizzes we’ve put together this was also partially funded by the STEM Grant.

I know everyone will be struggling for time at the moment but if you have accessed any of these sessions (either live or recorded), the YouTube videos or the associated quizzes and are able to spare 15 minutes we would be grateful if you could complete the survey below so that the impact can be evaluated.  This is for anyone in Scotland, regardless of local authority, who has accessed our training.

Note: Question 6 asks Which grant-funded organisation(s) provided you with STEM professional learning? This will likely be the organisation(s) that sent you this survey link.’ 
If you are completing the survey and are evaluating the impact based on access to the recordings we’ve put out then can you put Highland Council as the answer to that question.

As a reminder below is a list of CPD that we’ve put out that was funded partially or completely by the STEM Grant.  All of these sessions can be accessed here on the blog and the shorter videos can be accessed on our YouTube channel.

  • Counting Collections
  • Number Patterns and Relationships – Choral Counting
  • Story Problems: Addition and Subtraction (Early/First)
  • Story Problems: Multiplication and Division (Early/First)
  • Story Problems: Mult/Div, Add/Sub (Second)
  • EARLY: Language of Maths
  • EARLY: Real World Use of Maths
  • EARLY: Curiosity, Creativity & Confidence
  • EARLY: Spatial Awareness
  • EARLY: Understanding Number (Part 1)
  • Making sense of fractions: Equal Sharing Problems (Primary/Secondary)
  • Language of Maths (Primary/Secondary)
  • An introduction to measure (Primary)
  • Multiples, Factors and Primes (Primary/Secondary)
  • Multiplication and Division (Early)
  • Multiplication and Division (First)
  • Multiplication and Division (Second/Secondary)
  • Properties of Multiplication (Primary/Secondary)
  • Diagnostic Assessment (Online Module: Part 1)
  • Diagnostic Assessment (Online Module: Part 2)
  • Range of short videos on a variety of areas on our YouTube Channel
  • Associated quizzes (only available to some schools in Highland at the moment) 

As with most things in life, there are many things that I, and I’m sure my colleagues would want to improve or adapt based on ongoing reading, research and work with pupils and teachers but what we have so far hopefully gives people a useful starting point, food for thought and opportunity for discussion and reflection with colleagues.

We hope you’re having a great week and for those that are back face to face with their pupils again, it sounds like both kids and teachers are delighted to be reunited!

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CPD: Understanding Number at Early Level

Last year we ran four CPD sessions related to supporting pupil understanding of numeracy and mathematics at Early Level which included:

  • Language of Maths
  • Real World Use of Maths
  • Curiosity, Creativity and Confidence
  • Spatial Awareness

These can be accessed here:

We are now bringing you the fifth and final module in this series on Understanding Number which will be delivered in two parts.
You do not need to have accessed the other four sessions in order to to attend this one but we recommend you view them at some stage.


The aims of the session will be to explore how young children develop their own informal knowledge of numbers. Through interactions with people and their environment young children make sense of the world around them.

The session dates/times are as follows:

Part 1: Tuesday 16th march 4:15 – 5:00

Part 2: Tuesday 23rd March 4:15 – 5:00

You can sign up and access the codes for the session on the CPD calendar.  Details are also on the Digital Hub calendar.

This course is for Highland staff only.

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SMC Virtual Conference – 6th March 2021

The Scottish Mathematical Council will be hosting its annual conference online for the first time ever!


The conference offers a fun filled informative day of mathematics for teachers in all sectors including but not limited to: Early Years, Primary and Secondary.

We are also very fortunate that the conference will also be a FREE event this year so not only can you attend from the comfort of your own home, you don’t have to pay a penny for the pleasure!

For details of the workshops that will be available click here:

For registration click here:

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Read and Write Training – this will be a game changer for many pupils!

If you are with the Highland Council, you will now have access to Read & Write.

I know this doesn’t sound like a maths related post but it will be useful for all subjects and for some kids it really will be a game changer in terms of accessibility to online learning if they have reading difficulties but I believe it offers a whole host of other benefits too.

Pupils can access this really easily at the click of a button and I’ve been promoting it recently at some training I’ve been delivering around the use of some online materials that we’ve been sharing with some schools.  If the difficulty is a reading one, rather than a maths one, Read and Write will read the text for pupils so they can access the information and therefore be in a better position to solve the problem.

Training for Read and Write is being offered to Highland Council staff on the following dates/times.  You can access all of this by checking the Highland Digital Hub Calendar.  
This is not being organised or delivered by the Numeracy Team, we’re just passing on the information.

Date: Friday 15th Jan 
Time: 11am
Title: Planning for Remote Learning Using Read and Write and More!
Description: We want to do our part to help minimise disruption to crucial teaching and learning time.  If you are migrating to remote learning practices, we want to make sure that you’ve got all the support you need to use our technology.  We’ll show you how best to utilise the Texthelp family of products during this difficult period to help with building resources, setting assignments, completing worksheets, grading, assessment and feedback.  It’s everything you need to know to support and enable remote learning with Texthelp.

Date: Monday 18th Jan 
Time: 2 – 3 pm
Title: Read and Write Training – Level 1 (Back to Basics)
Description: For staff unfamiliar with Read and Write.

Date: Wednesday 20th Jan 
Time: 2 – 3 pm
Title: Read and Write: Using PDF Reader

Date: Thursday 21st Jan 
Time: 2 – 3 pm
Title: Read and Write: Supporting Dyslwxia/Struggling Learners
Description: This will have a specific focus on supporting ASN pupils.

Date: Monday 25th Jan 
Time: 2 – 3 pm
Title: Read and Write: Achieving Outcomes for all Students
Description: Looking at how Read and Write can be used by ALL pupils.

Date: Wednesday 27th Jan 
Time: 6 – 7 pm
Title: Read and Write: An Info. Session for Parents

Please refer to the training calendar for links to the Google Meet codes where the training will be hosted.

I’m sure many teachers, parents and pupils will find this incredibly useful.

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Remote Learning Options: Recorded Training and Live Session

Welcome back and I hope everyone had an enjoyable Christmas and New Year despite the difficult circumstances we continue to find ourselves in!

Just before the holidays we ran a live training session giving ideas for remote learning which may be even more relevant now given the recent announcement that this will be going on for longer than expected.

I’ve added a recording of the video below so you can watch it at your leisure.  Please remember these are just ideas and hopefully offer some helpful suggestions and solutions but this isn’t the only way that things could be run.

I’ll also add this to the CPD section of the blog and the Highland Digital Hub where you’ll be able to find a PDF of the slides too.

I will run another live session on Wednesday 6th January at 4:30 pm.

I will aim to get the joining details added to the Highland Digital Training Calendar and also the CPD calendar but you can access it using the Google Meet Link below.  This is for Highland Council staff only:

The content of the live session will be the same as the one before the holidays and the same as the recording but with it being live, there will be opportunities to ask questions for anything that you are unsure about or need further advice on.

I hope you all have a great start to the New Year and the new term.

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Remote Learning Options: Training Session today

With the announcement over the weekend that schools will move to remote learning temporarily after the holidays, we wanted to offer a training session tonight that will highlight options available to you so you can continue to offer high quality learning experiences during this time.

The session can be accessed using the Google Meet code below: This is for Highland Council staff only.

The session will run today – 21st December at 4.30 pm.
The duration is set to one hour but it will most likely be a bit shorter than this.

The training will highlight three options that we think may be useful to people and how you might structure these online:

  • Instructional videos which can be used in one of two ways:
      • As an independent learning opportunity
        Teachers would share the instructional video and then set a series of questions related to the content.
        An example would be this video here on Understanding the Meaning of the Equals Sign:

    • As a group discussion
      Teachers would use the video to facilitate a group discussion online
      An example would be this video here on Incrementing and Decrementing in Fifths: 
  • Using Story Problems to facilitate high quality, rich discussions
    • We ran this successfully during the last period of remote learning and had great success with it with the classes we worked with.  
    • We will talk through options so you can find out more and use it with your own classes if you wish.
  • Using the Home Learning materials that are available on the Digital Hub

The session will be rerun in January before the children return, a date, time and link will be posted here in due course.

We hope you can join us as we think this will be useful for teachers and provide opportunities for high quality teaching and learning but in a manageable way that isn’t creating excessive work load.

If we don’t see you there, have a great Christmas and enjoy a well earned break.

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