Eleven marks a passage of rite for many - at this age you can legally choose your own religion, have your ears pierced and be convicted of a criminal offence (Oxme). In school it usually marks the age at which you transfer from Primary to Secondary. Key Stage 2 SATs are the educational marker which the government uses to measure the effectiveness of Primary education, but SATs are also significant for the child as they are now aware of their own capabilities. Exams matter no matter how much they might be wrapped up otherwise.
Erin was ten - born in July she was a summer baby and come March her class was full steam ahead in preparation for SATs. I helped where I could, feeding back on numeracy questions, spelling worksheets and writing exercises. She found spellings difficult as the order of letters never seemed to stick for long. Numeracy questions she understood more easily, however there was one area she struggled with - finishing the question with sufficient time to spare. It was actually the calculation in the mental maths questions that burned time.
Watching her one day, I could see she understood the mechanics but just needed enough time to complete the problem. On the spur of the moment I fired a few times table questions at her - I started with a couple of easy ones (10x5, 4x4) and then progressed onto harder ones (9x7, 7x8, 8x4). Instead of reciting them, she began calculating the sums in her head - she didn't know her times tables. No wonder she was struggling to complete the maths questions!
My thoughts instantly shifted to getting her to answer rapid fire questions - an app, there had to be an app! A quick search on the Google Play store showed there were plenty of them. I tried a few and then settled on one which simply fired banks of 20 questions, timing you along the way, showing what you got right and wrong. Erin started playing - not all the time and not every day. But several times a week, 60, 80 or 100 questions at a time. Week by week she just kept answering questions and gradually, noticeably, she got faster on the timed clock and also faster at answering the SATs questions.
For Erin, the rote memorisation of times tables worked. There is nothing new in the idea - regular practice, repetition, is all that was needed. But the app provided a rapid way to practice and a yard stick to measure yourself by. How fast and which ones were correct. That suddenly made me think - if we log all the answers we are able to record performance over time, provide feedback to teachers and, more importantly, learners.
And so Flurrish was born - out of Erin's SATs came our unique vision for empowering teachers and enabling pupils.