Goffs Learning Matters

Numeracy by Tom Cahill - October 2017

“Good numeracy is the best protection against unemployment, low wages and poor health.”

Andreas Schleicher, OECD.

Numeracy is a fundamental life skill and not just subject specific, therefore needs to be developed across the curriculum and not just independently by the maths department.

There are many ways you can improve your student’s numeracy skills within your subject areas, whether it is the use of chronology in History, profit and loss in Business Studies, time signatures in Music or the use of geometric shapes in Art.  Planning opportunities that allow your students to improve their numeracy means you are planning opportunities to help them improve their life chances. As Sophie Everist said in her article on literacy “We all know the content that must be taught but it’s how we teach it that makes a difference”.

If you are unsure on how to do this please take a look at the National Numeracy website’s “essentials of numeracy” https://www.nationalnumeracy.org.uk/essentials-numeracy as a starting point. They highlight numbers, shapes, space and measures, handling information and operations and calculations as the crucial elements of an individual’s numeracy. So don’t worry - we are not talking algebra or trigonometry, we are talking understanding percentages and how to manage a budget.  

So there is no reason you cannot make the use of numeracy in lessons count.

Please watch this short youtube clip on the importance of Numeracy in the contemporary world https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jQJKA2aTMY


Literacy Learning does Matter! by Sophie Everist - Sept 2017

Effective literacy across all subjects: it’s not all about writing and spelling you know!

There are many ways that we can develop the literacy skills of the students that we teach and these are through the following areas: reading, writing, speaking and listening; having advanced literacy skills means that our students are competent in all four of these areas.

Allowing your teaching methods and styles to incorporate opportunities that allow your students to use each of these areas means you are building their literacy skills. We all know the content that must be taught but it’s how we teach it that makes a difference to students’ literacy.

Are we allowing them to talk about it, write about it, listen to it and read about it?

Adding a mixture of these ingredients to your lessons makes for a successful literacy recipe that your fellow teacher friends will be asking for!

“How do I do it in my subject though?” you ask. Well, let me offer you some suggestions because literacy learning does matter!


Talking? Noise? No writing? Surely not? For the right reasons, YES!

  • Think- Pair-Share- allow students to discuss the task, new piece of content or how they work out/do something before they get their heads down independently.
  • Chunk and Chew- chunk your lessons in sections and allow students time to chew the information in pairs or groups.
  • Turn your lessons in the House of Commons - allow students to voice their opinions on and debate the importance of The Arts in schools or the need for good health and social care in the 21st century.                                                               


In English our students wrists are always hurting but when was the last time they hurt in yours? When you’re writing you can’t escape thinking, how can you get students to write in your subject?

  • Could it be a paragraph to explain how they work out a sum?
  • Could it be a mind map of what they know about the population figures of The Weimar Republic by 1925? (Yes, Nigel Appleyard was my History teacher!)
  • Could it be an essay exploring the benefits of social experiments?
  • Could it be a presentation on the importance of technology in today’s society?


It doesn’t have to be the works of Jane Austen! (How dull!)

  • Flipped learning, ask students to read up on something so that they are better prepared for what you want to teach them
  • Read for a purpose
  • Read to make predictions and connections
  • Read to educate
  • Read to build stamina
  • Read to calm, soothe and control behaviour


How do we know they’re actually listening to us; the ever unanswered question?

  • What questioning techniques could you use to build their listening skills?
  • In your lessons, could they have an opportunity to listen to each other speak as well as themselves?
  • Could they present their ideas and watch their presentation back?
  • Could they record voice notes for revision?

If we take away the label of ‘Literacy’ and start thinking about how we are getting our students to read, write, speak and listen in our classrooms, we are much more likely to increase their literacy skills without even mentioning the word literacy.

Give Literacy a go, you never know, you might even secretly enjoy it!