This question has been asked by several teachers enquiring about Arc Maths. Given that Arc Maths is a retrieval practice app wouldn’t it make sense for teachers to be able to affect the topics that pupils see so that pupils practise topics that have recently been taught? The obvious answer is ‘yes’, but our answer is ‘no’ – or more precisely ‘no, not yet’.
Now that Arc Maths has been up-and-running for a year, it is becoming apparent that many pupils have gaps in knowledge that are at a much more basic level than what is on their scheme of work. Often, the questions on Arc Maths run quite a long way behind and below what is happening in class because pupils have forgotten topics from a couple of years ago. (The question with the highest proportion of wrong answers is naming quadrilaterals.) What we are looking to see is whether the impact of Arc Maths has been sufficient to address the gaps in knowledge/strengthen the recall of core skills to an extent where the questions pupils are seeing on Arc Maths are more closely aligned to classwork. At that point, we may well need to finesse the content and offer some form of topic selection for the teacher.
A benefit of Arc Maths is that it embeds revision across the whole 5 years of KS3 and KS4. One of the advantages of this is that pupils are recapping both in advance of teaching as well as after teaching. So, for instance, by the time ‘Area of a Circle’ appears on a scheme of work, most Arc Maths users will know the difference between radius and diameter and how to find one from the other, what a circumference is, the difference between area and perimeter, how to substitute into a formula, how to apply BIDMAS, how to square a number, know the units for area. And then in due course, Arc Maths will test area of a circle and ensure that too is secure. Were Arc Maths directed by a scheme of work, there would not be the opportunity to organically check and cement these more basic concepts within ‘Area of a Circle’ until after the topic had been taught.
Being teachers, we know first-hand the pressure on time. We designed Arc Maths so that it could co-exist in your classroom alongside whatever you were teaching. We wanted it to take care of itself which is why follow-up practice questions are self-generating and the intervention cycle of spaced practice triggers automatically when pupils forget a topic. The teacher portal is there for you to view pupils’ data if you wish, but it was a non-negotiable requirement of Arc Maths that teachers were able to have confidence in Arc Maths as an educational tool no matter how much they neglect it or how busy they are. Clearly there is a need for teachers to support pupils with the maths by advising on the practice questions, but everything else is designed to be self-sustaining.
This was the thinking behind why we have not linked Arc Maths to schemes of work. It would create a different educational tool – one that has value but serves a different purpose. However, it is not a decision that is set in stone and we are keen to create tools that teachers can use in the way they want. So, if you have views, send us your thoughts….