Tyrone pupils enjoy ‘sum’ fun

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Families have been having fun with sums as part of an innovative shared education project delivered by two Co Tyrone primary schools.

Fivemiletown’s Shared Education project employed fun maths activities to bring children together in the classroom and foster collaboration between their parents in after school workshops.

The project involved Fivemiletown PS and St Mary’s PS in Fivemiletown.

Fivemiletown PS teacher, Mark Bloomfield, said the longer term aim of the project “is to bring people together to build strong communities that are respectful of difference in all its forms”.

The initiative involved the use of teaching and learning resource Izak9, which is designed engage more children in maths and STEM subjects by making sums enjoyable for all.

Mr Bloomfield said Izak9 had proven an “excellent vehicle” in the Shared Education process.

“It is very engaging for children and very effective in stimulating conversation and developing thinking and problem-solving skills,” he said.

Bringing the parents of the children from both schools together “went very well”, he added.

“The family event was delivered in a very relaxed manner which put everyone at ease. It gave the children the opportunity to showcase their maths and communication skills to their parents. Parents also enjoyed sharing in their children’s learning and also the social aspect of forming new friendships with other parents.”

St Mary’s PS, Fivemiletown teacher, Siofra Gallagher, said: “The Izak9 parents’ evening was very successful as it showcased all that is good about Shared Education - children enjoying working together with a shared goal free from any inhibitions.

She added: “Izak9 provided the perfect platform for our children from both partner schools to engage with each other.

“Through the various maths challenges that Izak9 posed, the children gradually came out of their comfort zone and were willing to take risks in their processing and decision making.

“They freely explored, discussed and collaborated to find solutions and were all chomping at the bit to share their answers and methods in front of their peer groups.”

Mr Bloomfield added: “Shared education is very important as it aims to build relationships within local communities through providing a platform where pupils, teachers, support staff and governors can learn together in pursuit of common goals.

“The main aim is to raise the educational outcomes of the children along with schools sharing resources.

“It is also a useful means for providing staff development opportunities.”

Erin from Fivemiletown Primary said: “I liked it because we got to learn maths and have fun at the same time. I liked making new friends and working as a group.”

Nancy, also from Fivemiletown Primary, said: ““I thought it was fun to see the different ways people work things out because there were some ways I would never have thought of. It was really educational.”

Lukas from St Mary’s added: ““IZAK9 is awesome!”