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Illuminating Teaching is Lighting the Way for Others

Following the discovery that hundreds of local children had never seen the Blackpool lights switched on along the Promenade, schools have been taking coach loads of young people to see the famous Illuminations in position. They have then been using this experience to teach a range of new maths skills.

Pupils also visited the Illuminations Depot and worked through a range of specially created activities that aim to give a deeper understanding of patterns and sequences, as well as multiplication and division plus the design and symmetry that goes into making the lights such a popular attraction.

The programme is part of the Blackpool schools’ cultural programme, which is funded by Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England and Blackpool Council.  An added bonus is that this project also engages students in art, design, history and local culture.

The work is having a positive impact on the way that pupils understand the relevance of mathematics in everyday life, according to Sarah Coldbeck, Deputy Headteacher at Mereside Primary School, who said: “The project enabled us to take a fresh look at the Illuminations and to provide learning opportunities linked to something within children’s experience. It allowed us to provide contextualised teaching and a real purpose to areas such as calculations. Children and staff enjoyed the opportunity to work on a topic relevant to Blackpool.”

Councillor Ivan Taylor, Blackpool Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “We’re taking an active role in making sure that children’s maths grades across the town are at least at the national average. Part of that work involves showing pupils the importance of maths in everyday life and the Illuminations are a great example that the children can relate to. It is a fantastic teaching tool to have on our doorstep and the work that we’re doing to make the most of it has been praised by various education bodies across the country.”

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    Melanie Whitehead is the Creative Director of The Old Electric, Blackpool's newest theatre. She previously worked for the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre.

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