Case Study - Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School

A Commitment to Excellence in Mathematics Education

Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School students have a long and proud tradition of academic excellence in Mathematics. The Maths Active School initiative was seen as an ideal opportunity to demonstrate the manner in which these standards are achieved.

Year 6 and Prep students regularly sharing Mathematics experiencesBeing a multi campus school with enrolments from Kindergarten to Year 1 in excess of 2300, it was the most practical approach to initially register our Junior Schools for MAS consideration. Although on different campuses and being located in 2 different suburbs, the Junior Schools work closely together on curriculum design and implementation. Both have full time Mathematics co-ordinators whose multi-faceted roles involve:

  • Curriculum and policy design
  • Teacher resource development
  • PL leadership and model lesson delivery
  • Teaching Prep – Year 6
  • Early years testing
  • Designing and the running of Maths Games Days
  • Preparation of students for assessment exercises and competitions
  • Creation and analysis of internal and standardised tests
  • Co-ordination of concrete equipment purchase and distribution
  • Conducting workshops and curriculum education sessions for parents

The strength of the schools Mathematics standards centres upon both its developmental policy and program and its philosophical approach to the teaching of the subject. Although the school’s program is based on the National Curriculum and AUSVELS it transcends these guidelines and aims to offer a deeper and more comprehensive approach to the subject.

The philosophical approach to the teaching and learning of Mathematics in the school is based on a number of assumptions:

  • Mathematics is an inherently exciting subject with the capabilities of captivating the imaginations of students
  • Mathematics is ubiquitous and forms an essential part of our everyday lives
  • Every student will succeed in the subject and will reach his or her full potential
  • Mathematics is best learned by primary students when they have the opportunity to manipulate materials, or see pictures, diagrams or models
  • Students of Mathematics must learn to approach problems in a strategic and systematic manner by applying acquired thinking skills
  • The best learning outcomes are achieved when students are supported by informed parents who are interested in the educational experiences of their children

The teachers at the school are expected to be thoroughly conversant with its Mathematics policy and regularly attend PL sessions to enhance their pedagogical knowledge and skills. Their teaching is enhanced by the intervention of both the Mathematics co-ordinators, support staff and teacher aids. These extra staff often enable the students to be taught in small groups, usually determined by ability. This approach obviously assists when catering for differentiation, which in turn, occurs within the groups.

Each class has its own annual Mathematics budget and over time, has built up a rich and diverse set of concrete materials. The schools have their own Maths Room in which the co-ordinators’ teach and in which a large array of materials can be found.

Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School has adopted a culture of thinking in its approach to all curriculum areas. Based on Harvard’s Project Zero initiative its application to the teaching of Mathematics can best be seen in the manner in which its students pursue Mathematical problems in a strategic manner, applying thinking routines when solving problems.

Year 2 boys working on the 2013 Maths Trail Investigations play an important part in the Mathematics life of its students. Each student from Year 2 is invited to enter the Maths Talent Quest. During the Junior Schools’ annual Maths Week celebrations every student presents a research project designed to demonstrate the manner in which the subject is linked to both our everyday lives and cross curricula areas. Every student, partnering with a cross-age buddy, works through an annual Maths Trail around the campuses and every student will be involved once a year in the World of Maths Travelling Problem Solving Show.

Regular Mathematics assemblies highlight student achievements in competitions and offer an opportunity for student research and investigations to be presented. Parents are invited to attend such events and are regularly taught by the schools Mathematics co-ordinators in the aspects of curriculum content and pedagogical approaches.

The Junior Schools’ send its students to the MAV Maths Games Days for Years 4, 5 and 6 and runs the Year 5 event at the boys’ Essendon Campus. An annual Maths Games Day is also conducted for the 150 Years 6 boys and girls at its 2 campuses and the school performs with distinction each year in the Australian Problem Solving Mathematical Olympiad competition run by the University if New South Wales.

Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School as a Maths Active School, is delighted to be recognised for the quality of its academic program and for the manner in which it supports its students and staff in their pursuit of both academic and pedagogical excellence.

Peter Maher
Craig Rayner
Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School


For further information regarding Maths Active Schools please contact Ellen Corovic on (03) 9380 2399 or

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