OK, I’ll admit it.  I’m a little star struck this week!  Its all well and good presenting on the webinar series with some famous names…but someone else organised all that.  When you actually have a celebrity agree to talk to you personally, well that’s something different!  I spent over an hour talking to Carol Vorderman this week about…well pretty much everything, including her maths program, Maths Factor.  What a great way to kick off Maths Month May!

Don’t forget to look out for the video on YouTube.  <<click>>

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Maths Factor review with Carol Vorderman

Carol is a passionate mathematician and educator.  When her own son experienced significant difficulties with his learning she realised what goes in to teaching some children, and that the classroom input alone is not enough.  With her team she set up a production and software studio and created Maths Factor. 

Each module is introduced with a video of Carol explicitly teaching the content.  She doesn’t teach tricks but instead explains the real story behind the calculations.

“Here’s a little trick…add a 0, that means you’ve multiplied by 10!”    (Wrong)

There is the opportunity to repeat the videos many times, practise questions and then play games.  How many times have we been in the classroom for the child in the corner to ask,

“Why?”   (Confused)

Her no-nonsense explanations helps children to understand what is happening rather than just mindlessly applying a formula to achieve an answer that then falls apart when the situation changes slightly!   

3.8 x 10 = 3.80.  Why have you marked it wrong? 
You told me to add a zero!  (Disillusioned) 

Students are rewarded throughout the program and  parents (there is a school version too) get regular emails updating them of the development of skills and tips to help them support their child further.

Carol’s enthusiasm for maths permeates throughout the program and the interview.  She’d make a great teacher!

The parent version of the program informs parents by email of any progress and they also have a dashboard to log in to to see what is happening.  Maths Factor helpfully provides information for adults on how to support their child with the concept they are working on.  This is particularly helpful where they perhaps struggle with maths themselves or just haven’t come across the method before.  All the material is aligned with the national curriculum requirements.  The nice thing is that the levels within the program have no ‘year’ attached to them.  So, a struggling child in Y5 could be working on Y1 material and not be aware.  Parental controls allow a ‘rewind’ from the level the child’s age suggests they should be at.  

The school version has an admin panel showing the stages and progress of all pupils and allows the teacher to adjust these appropriately.   

Children win marbles by participating in the program which is an intrinsic reward, however they can also donate those marbles to one of the chosen charities with Maths Factor making an appropriate donation at the end of the year.

And if all that wasn’t enough, there is a comprehensive collection of printable resources for each topic area to support maths away from the screen.  From number lines and digit cards to dominoes, flash cards and games. 

I’ll be honest, as I always am, and admit I thought this was just going to be another program with a celebrity name attached in order to increase the sales!  But it’s not…it’s much more than that.  Take away Carol, and the program would sell itself anyway through the excellent content and delightful graphics.  Add Carol in, and the program takes on a whole new life…especially knowing that the content wasn’t driven by some developer behind the scenes but by someone who understand and is passionate about maths education in every sense.

Carol no longer owns Maths Factor and sold to Pearson a few years ago, but still has her fingers in the proverbial pie.  During the Covid-19 closures she asked Pearson to make the program FREE to all parents (normally, about £2 a week). 

As for the evidence of impact?  Well, from the 100,000 students on the program prior to March 2020, they were seeing an additional 3 months progress over 12 months…often much more!  Just as importantly, as well as improving their maths children were more confident with the maths and enjoying it.  Currently over 500,000 children are accessing the program regularly!

I thoroughly enjoyed talking to Carol; about her background and how maths pulled her from poverty…about her son’s difficulties…and she is far more than a face on the screen, but an intelligent, highly articulate individual with a desire to give a quality maths education to everyone.   

Maths Factor is available from: https://www.themathsfactor.com/