Sparx Maths

Kirkby High School's Sparx Maths journey

Kirkby High School, situated in Knowsley, Merseyside, serves a community facing significant socio-economic disadvantage. With 60.5% of students qualifying for Pupil Premium funding, similarly high levels of students receiving free school meals (FSM), inconsistent parental engagement and a higher than average number of SEND students, the school has historically struggled with attainment at GCSE in maths.

In the light of these challenges, the school needed an innovative solution to improve student outcomes. This case study explores how the implementation and impact of Sparx Maths continues to bring about tangible changes to the homework habits, mathematical aptitude and general resilience of Kirkby High School’s learners.

The Sparx Leader and Deputy Head of Faculty (maths) at Kirkby High School is Lesley Gee.

Challenges before Sparx Maths

Before integrating Sparx Maths into their curriculum, Kirkby High School battled with widespread inconsistency of homework practices and completion rates. Previous maths homework systems were ineffective and lacking in detailed feedback for students, which understandably generated frustration among both students and staff. As a result, the school found it difficult to engage parents and motivate students to complete their homework assignments.

“The quality of the questions are much better. I think the problem solving and the twists that you put on some ordinary questions put that challenge in there to lead to better outcomes. It gets them thinking in a different way.”

“When I've booked laptops and insisted that they log on, I have not had one instance where they have wanted to go on other things. So when I used to do this for the previous platform they would get bored and switch off ...To be honest I haven't seen that with Sparx.”

Sparx Maths: addressing challenges

Sparx Maths has proven to be a much-needed, complete solution to such challenges. The adaptive nature of the platform combined with its high-quality question database provides students with personalised learning experiences. For Lesley, the standard of the problem-solving stimulates and engages pupils of all abilities - including those with the highest prior attainment. By incorporating challenging questions with ‘unique twists’, Sparx Maths encourages critical thinking in its truest sense. The fact that the Sparx Maths videos thoughtfully and specifically match their counterpart questions means that Kirkby High School has hit upon a solution to the issue of genericism they faced with previous maths homework systems.

The challenge and reward elements, such as the way in which pupils earn experience points (XP) and do times tables, motivate students at Kirkby High School to actively participate in their learning. The school is fully on board with the accountable practice of the bookwork system and Lesley believes this function of Sparx Maths is helping to instil the crucial habit of writing down working.

“It's a really good tool for just pushing and pushing the limits of thinking and challenge”

Moreover, Sparx Maths addresses the issue of insufficient feedback by offering modelled solutions for similar problems through videos and targeted resources.

“We also liked the style of the videos that it matched the actual question that they are answering. It was not just a generic topic video”

Embedding Sparx Maths

To ensure successful integration, Kirkby High School staff completed the comprehensive in-product training and Lesley continues to provide ongoing support through regular communication and feedback. An example of this is how, on a weekly basis, Lesley shares data-driven insights from her faculty's classes and provides her colleagues with personalised, troubleshooting tips on how to monitor student progress, identify areas for improvement and celebrate successes.. This comprehensive interrogation of the data, coupled with advice drawn directly from the EEF’s homework toolkit, demonstrates how robust leadership can enhance the impact of Sparx Maths’ data to an even greater degree. The best of the school’s weekly data is regularly celebrated on social media channels, too.

Further, Lesley has found that Sparx Maths’ approach to parental engagement has made contact with home a better, more frequent process that involves less conflict than it did before.

“I give them a little tip about what they can do to improve that data. So, for example, the first week it was 'Don't forget you can use Insights with the Follow Up Five'”

Impact and recommendations

Students at Kirkby High School have responded positively to Sparx Maths, demonstrating increased engagement and confidence in mathematics. The platform continues to promote a more positive homework culture and has laid the foundations for long-term academic success by building resilience, perseverance and critical thinking skills in their students. Lesley senses that Sparx Maths will contribute towards an increase in pupil resilience because of the product’s approach: “try it, get it wrong, try again”.

Kirkby High School is committing to Sparx Maths in the long term, and Lesley can see how it has the power to influence other departments across the school.

“They (the students) love the Shout Out page. So when we share who’s done it first and then the shout-outs for who didn't do it but then have done it - for them to get on that page and I personally give out rewards.”


Kirkby High School's adoption of Sparx Maths hopes to yield significant improvements in mathematics. By leveraging the platform's adaptive learning capabilities, the team is trying to transform homework practices, enhanced student engagement and developed a culture of continuous improvement among their learners and teachers. As a result, Sparx Maths has become an integral component of Kirkby High School's mathematics curriculum.

“I am a big advocate for Sparx by the way!”

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