Press Releases

Cornerstone Maths brings a new era of Key Stage Three Maths teaching to UK classrooms

06 November 2013

(London, 7 November 2013) A new era of Key Stage Three Maths teaching arrived today, with the launch of “Cornerstone Maths” funded by the Li Ka Shing Foundation and Hutchison Whampoa Europe.

The programme of technology-augmented learning aims to improve maths achievement and reasoning, and will reach 100 UK schools by the beginning of the 2014 academic year.

The Cornerstone Maths programme is designed to give all pupils the chance to succeed in maths – an essential element for successfully entering into all careers in the knowledge-based economy. Using state-of-the-art dynamic computer representations, Cornerstone aims to enhance student reasoning and problem solving, as well as encouraging the pupil to use mathematical reasoning skills creatively to solve realistic and practical problems.

The programme, funded by the Li Ka Shing Foundation and Hutchison Whampoa Europe, is the result of a collaboration between SRI International and the London Knowledge Lab, Institute of Education.

Speaking at the launch event in Central London, Education Minister, Elizabeth Truss, said: “Maths is vital to getting on in life. Careers increasingly demand strong numeracy and reasoning and it is vital that more of our young people go into further education, training and employment with these skills.

“That is why we have instigated a system-wide overhaul of maths in our schools. The rigorous new maths curriculum focuses on the basics so that children from a young age have a strong foundation on which to build. The new maths GCSE will be more demanding than current exams, and we are involving our top universities in developing new maths A-levels.

“All students who do not get a grade C in maths GCSE now carry on studying the subject until they achieve the qualification, and new high-quality core maths qualifications announced last month will allow thousands more pupils to study the subject from age 16 to 18.

“Research shows the importance of maths to people’s careers – those with A-level maths earn between 7 per cent and 10 per cent more than similarly skilled workers who do not have the qualification.

“I want to see even more projects building children’s engagement with maths.”

Professors Richard Noss and Celia Hoyles OBE of London Knowledge Lab, Institute of Education said: “By building on what the research says, and designing state-of-the-art technologies in collaboration with schools and teachers across the country, the Cornerstone Maths project is poised to make a real difference to how maths is taught and learned.”

Notes to editors

Cornerstone Maths is a collaboration, funded by the Li Ka Shing Foundation and Hutchison Whampoa Europe, between London Knowledge Lab, Institute of Education and SRI International.

The aim is to enhance Key Stage 3 pupil engagement and learning of key mathematical concepts by developing and implementing embedded digital technology which will scale.

Following successful pilot schemes in the US, the Cornerstone pilot programme was rolled-out in eleven UK schools in September 2011.

There are currently four units in the Cornerstone Maths programme, focusing on the key ideas of linear functions, mathematical similarity, algebraic generalization, and ratio and proportion.

We are delighted to announce that the significant learning gains achieved during the pilot phases has meant that Cornerstone will now be rolled-out to more UK schools and by the 2014 academic year over 100 UK schools will be teaching Cornerstone, with over 50 already recruited.

Looking ahead, one of the key goals of the Li Ka Shing Foundation, Hutchison Whampoa Europe, London Knowledge Lab and SRI teams is to collaborate to find long-term sustainability models and partners for the project. In this way it can be ensured that work done in the pilot and scaleout phases of the project will continue to develop to benefit schools, teachers and students.

About Cornerstone Maths

Cornerstone Maths uses technology to enhance learning in mathematics. By integrating information and communications technology (ICT) into lessons, it uses representations and simulations—visual and interactive graphs, tables and equations—to demystify key mathematical ideas. Intended for use by pupils in Key Stage 3, current units address hard-to-grasp concepts in linear function and geometric similarity. Upcoming units will focus on algebraic expressions and ratio.

Cornerstone Maths began as an SRI International research project in the 1990s, and is based on two decades of examination into how technology can be used to help children learn important and abstract mathematics. In 2005, large-scale testing in schools across Texas and Florida yielded positive results. Teachers observed students making meaningful connections that led to deeper understanding and learning, and pupils involved in the programme showed significant learning gains over those who were not.

In 2011, SRI International collaborated with the London Knowledge Lab to launch a pilot Cornerstone Maths programme in England. With funding from the Li Ka Shing Foundation, the year-long study—which was developed and updated to align with England’s new national curriculum and migrated to a web-based platform—involved 19 teachers and 490 students from mixed backgrounds around the country. Targeted one to three week units help pupils achieve deep learning of the most difficult mathematics concepts through guided explorations and activities that foster reasoning and collaboration.

“There was a very distinct demarcation in my Year 8 class between those who had learnt it through Cornerstone Maths last year, and those who hadn’t,” says Liz Gould, a teacher at Ormiston Bushfield Academy in Peterborough. “I can categorically say that the retention a year on is significantly better than a class who had done similar work from a textbook.”

Teachers also learn. Cornerstone Maths leverages the crucial importance of teacher learning by offering professional development and involvement with a lively project community.

“It was a really valuable experience for me as a trainee to meet up with other professionals and other institutes,” says Alex Walley, a teacher at Ormiston Sir Stanley Matthews Academy in Stoke on Trent. “It was about seeing how this big mathematical idea, and this new technology, would actually work in our day-to-day practice.”

SRI International and London Knowledge Lab are now introducing Cornerstone Maths to 100 schools across the country, and plan to engage with more schools in the future.

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