Analysing Data

In April last year I blogged about data analysis. Since then I’ve been adding to, and refining the data analysis tool that I’d created in Excel. The newest version allows you to paste information taken straight from your schools management information system (e.g. SIMS) in order to produce summary statistics and transition matrices.



Paste your in your data from SIMS and copy the contents of the blue cells as far down the spreadsheet as is necessary. [Click to view full size image]


Click the “current” or “prediction” tab in order to see the summary statistics. [Click to view full size image]


Click the “Analysis” tab and press the “update” button in order to see the transition matrix. Hovering your mouse over numbers in the matrix will tell you who the students in question are. [Click to view full size image]

The excel file can be downloaded from here. Please be aware that it relies on macros in order to work so you will need to ensure that macros are enabled.

If you have any suggestions for improvements then let me know in the comments.

Claiming back tax

Most teachers will be members of a professional body and/or union. As teachers, we are entitled to claim back any tax paid to us on the money we have paid as professional fees, and are entitled to do so for the past four years.

There are various companies around that will help you do this, but they will take a cut of the money you are entitled to. However, claiming back tax yourself is really quick and easy to do – and you’ll get to keep all the money yourself!

You will need:

  1. A copy of the P87 form (available from the HMRC website here)
  2. Your national insurance number (you’ll find it on your payslip, your P60 etc)
  3. Your pay number (from your payslip)
  4. Your employer PAYE reference number (on my P60 it is called a HM Revenue & Customs Office and Reference – it’s a 3 digit number followed by mixture of letters and numbers)
  5. The amount you’ve paid to your union for each of the last 4 years (if you don’t know these send an e-mail to your union and they’ll let you know)

Once you’ve collected that information, fill in the form, pop it in the post, and in two or three weeks time you’ll end up with several letters from HMRC. One of these will advise you of your new tax code (so you don’t have to repeat this process in the future), and one of them will contain a cheque.

I did this three weeks ago. This week I got a cheque for nearly £140 – all for the price of a second class stamp!

Avoiding the textbook

Maths is exciting, it is engaging, it is enthralling; yet all too often the enthusiasm, the buzz and the motivation to get involved can be sucked out of a lesson by boring, dull, lacklustre resources. In starting the planning for a new scheme of work with @Just_Maths, @el-timbre and others, a key feature of people’s requests was that our schemes should have ideas and links to other resources and rich tasks; basically anything that stops the default lesson planning involving a textbook, 10 ticks questions or a PowerPoint equivalent.

The following are tiny selection of books, websites, and software packages that might help you ensure your pupils avoid the doldrums and retain/regain their enthusiasm for the subject. The best place to find new ideas though has to be on Twitter. If you’ve not yet seen the light, read about why I think it is so wonderful here.

  • is a fantastic website with hundreds of free, pre-made Bingo activities and settlers for most topics on the GCSE curriculum. (Free!)
  • are made by the same people responsible for the MathsBox website. They are sets of loops cards for practising most GCSE topics, but presented in a completely different way. Pupils will end up doing more practise that they would working from a textbook/worksheet but without realising it! They have three free samples available on their website at Grade A, Grade C and Grade G.
  • We Can Work It Out – A resource produced by the ATM. It consists of sets of cards that together provide enough clues to solve a given problem. Ideal for group work.
  • What Kind of Game is Algebra? – Another resource produced by the ATM. It contains card based games for collaborative group work.
  • People Maths: Hidden Depths – A book produced by the ATM to give ideas for how to teach maths using people. I particularly like the ideas for loci!
  • Dance Mats – an idea I found on @NumberLoving’s blog.
  • 10 Quick Questions is a piece of software produced by Chris Farmer. It allows you to set 10 timed questions (ranging from a couple of seconds up to a minute) on literally hundreds of maths topic areas.
  • Using music in lessons – most people have seen the circle song on YouTube. There are other equally catchy songs for other topics. The link is to another blog post on @NumberLoving’s blog.
  • Jigsaws – The Tarsia jigsaw software (free!) is excellent.  @MrBartonMaths has loads of pre-made activities that you can download from his website.
  • Always, Sometimes, Never – by Andrew Jefferies – 90 Always, Sometimes, Never cards. [With thanks to @Jessica_r_b]

Curriculum Time Survey

Two days ago I conducted a survey via Twitter asking people how much curriculum time their schools currently assign to maths. Some of the replies surprised me. A significant number of schools assign more time to maths in year 10 than year 11 – something that I suspect will change in future years now that early entry has effectively been done away with.

In total, 31 people responded to the survey. Here is a summary of the responses.

Curriculum time


I’d like to return to this in a year or so to see if there are any changes based on the changes made to GCSE’s last week. I suspect that there will be!

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