Extended learning has taken on new meaning for the Year 5 and 6 students from All Saints Catholic Primary Liverpool who work to a high school mathematics timetable.
The Maths Challenge Class allows students in Years 5 to 8 from the primary school and neighbouring All Saints Catholic Girls and Boys Colleges to learn more complex mathematical concepts than they would be faced with in a regular class for the subject. About 30 students take part across the grades, with Year 5 and 6 students working to the Year 7 challenge class timetable and Year 8 students following their own timetable.
Maths co-ordinator Katrina Brubacher said the class began after some of last year’s high achieving year 7 boys were asked how much of the material they had learnt in the year was entirely new to them.
“The answer they were giving me was 15 to 20 per cent,” she said.
“That was where we realised there was time there that could be better spent some other way.
“My goal with the class is for them to work out how to approach those questions they don’t know how to get started on. Very able students often think ‘If I have to spend more than five minutes thinking about it I can’t do it’, so they haven’t developed the resilience to tackle problems they don’t know the answer to.
“Girls and boys for whom maths doesn’t come quite so naturally are already developing those skills because they are encountering those sorts of problems naturally in the maths classroom.
“I asked one of the students in year 8 what he thought of having the younger students in the class and the word he used was ‘humbling’. They’re realising that there are very bright students who are younger and that age doesn’t necessarily reflect ability.”
Year 6 student Brandon Alves, 11, said the class was helping him to become familiar with the high school environment along with positive and negative whole numbers, or integers.
“We get interesting work and some things we’ve never seen before,” he said.
“We’ve learnt about integers on a duodecimal system and a hexadecimal system. Maths is my favourite subject.”
Year 5 student Angelina Nguyen, 10, said she was excited to be asked to join the challenge class, and enjoyed English and Art as well as Mathematics.
“I feel happy to be part of the class,” she said.
Year 8 student Soubhag Gopi, 13, said he liked doing the maths set for the challenge class which has included work on rates and ratios.
“The worksheets are a bit more advanced that what we’re currently doing in school so it’s challenging and I have to think hard about every question to find the answer,” he said.
The All Saint’s Boys and Girls Colleges, which teach years 7 to 10, will merge in 2016. This change will bring further innovation to the curriculum, with core classes including Mathematics, English, Science and History remaining single-sex, and all elective subjects becoming coeducational.
“This will build on the proven record of the All Saints’ community of schools, in terms of academic achievement, learning gain, and the quality of our graduates,” said Principal Stephen Gough.
“While the primary school is co-ed and the senior school is co-ed there are some families who have traditionally wanted some gender specialist opportunity in the middle years. We will maintain single-sex core classes and co-ed electives to offer the best of both worlds.”