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Artificial intelligence is boosting Shropshire pupils' maths skills

By Lisa O'Brien | North Shropshire | Education | Published:

A Shropshire school is using an online platform powered by artificial intelligence to ensure pupils don't miss out on vital maths knowledge due to the coronavirus crisis.

Teachers at Criftins C of E Primary School, in Dudleston Heath, near Ellesmere, say that the Maths-Whizz program has been a vital tool to children's education.

The program uses artificial intelligence (AI) to mirror the behaviour of a human tutor through interactive learning and numbers games, in order to tailor maths lessons to each child's individual ability.

Mandy Jones, headteacher at Criftins school, said: "Our pupils have enjoyed using Maths-Whizz throughout the closure period.

"It meets the need of every child because there is enough scope and excitement to challenge the most able, as well as those who need support at every level.  

"We have been using it for several years but since the lockdown it has become all the more invaluable. It's a unique program with huge potential."

More Covid-19 coverage:

It is widely accepted that the Covid-19 pandemic, which has resulted in many pupils being out of school since March, will produce substantial losses in learning that will be further impacted by the summer holidays.

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Experts say maths knowledge normally regresses by two to three months over the summer break due to lack of practice.

This loss of learning is known as the 'summer slide'.

Double whammy

It means many schools will potentially face disruption in September – with pupils struggling to catch up.

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Richard Marett, CEO of global learning company Whizz Education, which supplied Maths-Whizz, said: "Many parents are rightly concerned about their child's education.

"They need professional support if home schooling is to be effective.

"There is strong evidence that a gap in teaching a subject like maths can actually result in a pupil's knowledge of that subject regressing.

"It's a double whammy, because not only does the child stop learning, but their progress can actually go backwards.

"For this reason, schools normally face a challenge catching up even at the best of times in September, but this year things will be far more difficult.

"There are huge benefits to schools and parents if they are able to take advantage of online learning between now and the start of the new school year."

Research shows that just 60 minutes of online tuition per week over the course of a year can boost a child's maths ability by the equivalent of 18 months learning. 

Maths-Whizz has been certified by kidSAFE, the independent certification service that reviews and certifies the safety practices of child-friendly websites and applications.

Lisa O'Brien

By Lisa O'Brien
Senior Reporter - @lisaobrien_Star

Senior reporter based at Shropshire Star's head office in Ketley. Covering the Telford area.

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