Schools minister Nick Gibb hails Bilston pupils

Schools minister Nick Gibb hailed the success of a revolutionary maths programme when he visited schools in the Black Country.

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Mr Gibb visited St Martin's C Of E Primary School in Wallace Road, Bilston,and the Joseph Leckie Academy and the Ormiston Shelfield Community Academy, both in Walsall.

At St Martin's the minister spent time in classes to see the school's Maths Makes Sense programme in action.

It was launched in 2009 when achievement in the subject at the school was low, and focuses on teaching maths using solid objects.

Now St Martin's boasts some of the best maths results in the city, despite sitting in a deprived area with 58 per cent of pupils eligible for free school meals.

Nick Gibb in the nursery at St Martin's Cof E in Bilston
Nick Gibb in the nursery at St Martin's Cof E in Bilston

Mr Gibb said he was 'very impressed' with what he saw, and said he was pleased to see pupils displaying a 'deep understanding' of complex maths problems.

"The maths ability here is very advanced from all of the year groups I have seen," said Mr Gibb.

"It is clear there's a deep understanding of every element. The children know all of their multiplication tables by heart, which is fantastic to see."

Mr Gibb spent time at Joseph Leckie Academy after he was invited by Walsall South MP Valerie Vaz. She was keen for the minister to see the state of disrepair of the school's main teaching block.

With reception youngsters
With reception youngsters

Ms Vaz says the building needs to be replaced 'as a matter of urgency'. "The building opened in 1939 and is in urgent need of replacement," Mrs Vaz said.

"Until it is replaced, staff and students have to contend with damaged masonry, asbestos, leaking roofs, water running down the inside of the wall near to electrical sockets and rotting window frames and doors."

A new £3.4m teaching block is being built at the school, while bosses have tabled a £3.9m bid to the DfE to build a second block.

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