Episode 3: Kate Mole

Jan 15, 2019

Maths guru Kate Mole explains how for years we’ve been getting maths teaching wrong – and how, whatever we tell ourselves, there’s no such thing as a ‘maths person’.


Family Maths Toolkit – free ideas to help parents, families and children aged 13 and under enjoy everyday maths activities together

Maths with Parents – Parents can get support to help their child with maths if their child’s school subscribes

NCETM – Schools can get support here to develop Teaching for Mastery


London Southswest Maths Hub

About This Episode

A review of maths outcomes of young people in England from 2010-14 made for a sobering read.

Fifty percent failed to attain A-C in GCSE maths; if you were to line those children up on the M1 they would have stretched from London to Leeds. A staggering 22% of 16 to 19 year olds are innumerate, without the basic life skills to cope with using numbers in everyday life.

It’s perhaps not surprising that many parents can be heard declaring ‘I’m not a maths person’ – even if only in their heads as they help their kids with maths homework.

As a primary school teacher for 16 years with extraordinary results under her belt, Kate Mole, as part of the national agenda, is on a mission to change our approach to teaching maths in schools. Leading the London South West Maths Hub as their ‘Teaching for Mastery Lead’ and working for a multi-academy trust of schools called GLF Schools as their Primary Maths Lead, she helps both teachers and parents adopt new strategies to master maths.

Along with a growing army of progressive educators, Kate’s approach has taken inspiration from the Far East, places like China and Singapore, where, she says, children are years ahead of British teenagers.

She tells Planet Parent about how this relatively new pedagogy (method of teaching) is about equipping children with the skills to grasp mathematical concepts rather than procedures and tricks to get right answers, which offer ‘very shaky foundations to be able to cope later with more complex mathematics’.

Kate’s inspiring mission is to embed real understanding of maths at a conceptual level and move – once and for all – away from a ‘learning by rote’ mindset that’s become entrenched. She’s got her work cut out, but listening to her, it’s hard not to feel inspired – and a bit less daunted by maths homework.

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