Home Ed – Sept/Oct 16 (Maths et al)

So after a summer of trying different routines out for our children, my wife and I decided we needed a bit more structure to the home education of our children. Our children thrive on structure and have really got to grips with independent learning activities. They now each have their own laptop and have use of our iPads so as well as finding interesting activities/worksheets for them to tackle, we have been looking at online resources.

  1. Daydream Education Interactive Resource pack – this has lots of great interactive posters and quizzes for the kids to investigate. It covers  lots of subject areas and if we give them free learning time this is one of their ‘go to’ apps. (
  2. Khan Academy – this had been recommended when we first began Home Ed but I only recently signed up to it. The kids spent hours on it doing some fractions work on their first use but the potential is immense. Disney Pixar have also teamed up with KA and produced some courses on the science/maths/programming behind the films. (
  3. Times Table Rockstars – I had been meaning to sign up for this for a while, even while the kids were at school but after chatting with creator Bruno Reddy at mathsconf8 a few weeks ago and some of my other maths teacher friends commenting on how much their classes enjoy it, Bruno convinced me to get signed up that day. My kids LOVE it! They have already improved massively with their times tables and I know this will have a huge impact on some of the future topics I plan to teach them.(

These and many other things form part of our daily structure. It’s not all just about Maths and English. Any opportunity to do more creative subjects are jumped on. We now have a halloween (play)House of Horror after a messy week of craft.


Another thing we have insisted on is that they both join some clubs. Brownies and Beavers didn’t work out so we needed to branch out and search for some for something different.

One of the first I managed to get them to was an under 12’s basketball club run by Southend Swifts coach Steve Pearl ( They learning ball handling skills, mixing with a lot of children of different ages and Steve has a great view that it doesn’t matter how good they are – it’s just about having fun. Every week they get a little better and if he feels they might like to have a go in a match he’ll invite them to a training session with the other members of the team. His attitude is great and all of the children that go to the club show a huge amount of respect for him and each other.

We’ll now have a noisier house since they both joined the Essex Marching Corps ( This was introduced to us by another Home Ed family and on our first introductory evening I automatically saw the benefits they could get. The instructors, helpers and children all seemed welcoming and is exactly the kind of family community I would like my kids to be part of. It will promote dedication and perseverance as well as teach them a huge amount of skills. They will work through music theory and learn a range of instruments.


Now its half term I’ll get to join in the fun at home as well as spend some time teaching them. We have been working our way up to area of shapes so I’ll be breaking out the manipulatives and dotty paper. May also get a chance to read some spooky stories in the (play)House of Horror!







So it was time for another Mathsconf and this one was back in Kettering where it all started. On Friday, as usual, there was as pre-conf social event in at the hotel bar. It was packed! I haven’t been to all of the mathsconfs so I can’t speak for them all but this was the biggest gathering the I had witnessed and it was a great night. There were lots of new faces that were set to attend their fist conference and the usual crowd welcomed then all in as they do every year.

Anyway –  to the actual day. I joined many others (@corbettmaths, @mrsdenyer to name but a few) for a full english and too many pastries before heading to Kettering Conference Centre. The 2 cups of tea and 2 lattes reminded me to get some cash for the TuckShop, raffle tickets and inevitable impulse purchases. (Little did I know I would be buying my second calculator in 2 days!)

Mark McCourt (@EmathsUk) and his excellent team at La Salle Education (@LaSalleEd) had everything organised, Rob Smith (@RJS2212)  had the TuckShop and raffle tickets under control and it got off to an excellent start with talks from Andrew Taylor and Mark himself getting a huge group of maths teachers to do some actual maths with the 1089 problem.  It highlighted the fact that Mathematical Mastery is not something that is ever complete but something that everyone needs to work at,  no matter how mathematically qualified you think you may be.

Session 1  – Kris Boulton (@Kris_Boulton) – Siegfried Engelmann and Direct Instruction

I have been to previous talks by Kris  before and have found hos research fascinating. From his previous tweets I had done a little bit of my own research on Direct Instruction and was looking forward to seeing how Kris had put it into his own practice. There is no doubt that the ethos at KSA adds to the effect of his methods but the effort he puts into to the fine detailed planning to avoid early misconceptions and his clear simple delivery was definitely the main reason his lessons were so successful. I left that session with a lot more to think about both for my own school teaching but also for the home tuition of my children. Not only will it help in my delivery of maths but I can see it help them with lots other subjects.


Session 2 – Me, Julia Smith (@TessMaths)  and Amir Arezoo (@WorkEdgeChaos)  – NQT/RQT Advice Panel

We were not expecting a huge turnout and the small group we had enables us to target the individual questions and I think nearly everyone there had a question answered. I enjoyed offering my advce to new teacher and it is always nice to her Julia and Amir give there point of views which thankfully were similar to my own. Julia set up a Padlet in which we had a few prompts to help them along and she also recorded the extra questions and our responses. The Padlet can be found here –


Session 3 – Ed Southall (@solvemymaths) – Enhancing Your Subject Knowledge

Ed is a very clever man and I was looking forward to hearing him present. Fresh from our joint ranting the previous night,  Ed again manged to make me doubt my own subject knowledge with a few gems. He made us all question the things we teach to pupils – do we fully understand why these methods work? If we were asked by the pupils we teach to explain why, could we do it? His slide an be found on his site here –


Session 4 – Jo Morgan (@mathsjem)  – Teaching New GCSE topics

Jo highlighted to newly added topics once again and focused her talk on iteration, quadratic inequalities, area under a curve and gradients of curves. One thing I had forgotten,  that Jo highlighted was the small differences on how each exam board interprets each topic and the sort of details they will be trying to test. AQA and Edexcel had very subtle differences in there teaching guidance, so anyone thinking of switching boards at the last minute will need to be very careful. Jo provided a nice sheet of challenging exam questions and talked through how she was planning to tackle these new topics with her classes. She made it very clear where she thought the pupils would struggle and I agreed completely with her concerns. Her slides can be found on her own blog of the day here –

As the day finished Mark yet again promised to double the amount of raised by the TuckShop and raffle tickets, making a grand total of £3500 for MacMillan Cancer.

We ended the day in the bar. It was nice to chat to people like Pete (@MrMattock), Ania (@amaxmaths), Jo (@mathsjem), Bruno (@MrReddyMaths) and others, and after hearing how much Jo’s year 8’s enjoy TimesTable Rockstars I was conivinced by her and Bruno to finally sign my kids up. I look forward to seeing them attempt to become Rock Gods!







New Blog!


1st Blog Post!

So I have dumped my old website to start this free blog. The resources I had on my old site can be found here.

Worksheets and Powerpoints

Mastery Scheme of Work

I’ll still update them and add new things when I have time but my life has changed dramatically since my wife and I decided to home educate our children in April 2016.

It was something both of our children were keen on since not settling into a new primary school we had recently transferred them to, and it suited my wife who had started up a successful English tutoring business which she is running from home in the evenings.

Now we have control of our children’s education and we believe we have the necessary skills to give our children of 7 and 9 a fantastic opportunity to learn in a happy, stress-free environment. We are all happier since we made the decision but it isn’t easy and it didn’t start perfectly.

We joined lots of Facebook groups, found other home educators on twitter got amazing support from family friends but, for the first few months, as most home educators would admit, we worried about doing enough or too  much. Now though we have found a happy medium and both kids are showing more and more enthusiasm for learning. They can at times work longer hours than they would in a normal school day, but its because they are engrossed in a topic or activity and they know that they don’t have to stop for a bell or a change in direction.

We structure our day with some ‘non-negotiables’ (reading, arithmetic, writing) but also give them free-learning opportunities and plenty of time to just be kids. My wife has found some amazing educational trips that have been organised by other Home Ed parents, and both kids will happily learn 7 days a week.

We have invested in a lot of resources and recently bought both kids a laptop each. Home educating is not cheap but bargains can be found and many establishments offer Home Ed discounts.

In terms of teaching, my wife is an English teacher and a linguist so that base is covered. I’ll be covering the maths, ICT, CDT and we’ll share out the rest. We are all going to learn a lot from this new life. We will still look at secondary schools to see if the kids want to go but we are all open to the possibility of carrying on with Home Ed through secondary and further education.

What I do know for certain at the moment is both my son and daughter are happy and making massive progress with their learning. Today we worked for about 4 hours. In that time the kids learnt about degrees, how to draw and measure angles, and played a game estimating angles – After that we finished coding a game on Scratch. I say WE, really it was all them! I helped them with a couple of previous games to get them used to it but now they are able to follow instructions from a book and create some fum games. They then tweak and improve them to make them exactly how they want them. When they were finished with Scratch, I got out the new sets of compasses that my father bought for them a few weeks ago. They learnt how to draw circles and made some interesting patterns to put in their Art folders.


I won’t always write about Home Ed. I have a school life too where I am Deputy Head of Mathematics and will be attending Mathsconf8 in a couple of weeks where I will be holding an NQT/RQT advice session with the help of Amir Arezoo (@WorkEdgeChaos) and Julia Smith (@tessmaths). I will write about mathsconf8 and other mathematics teaching stuff that interests me.