Target Practice

An aqe summer school

Weekdays 15th july - 23rd august 2019

9am - 12.30pm

Looking to keep your child’s skills sharp this summer in anticipation of November’s AQE assessments?

Want flexibility to select as many or as few days as possible?

Seeking specific AQE goals for your child that can be explored in greater detail?

Looking for a balance between the intensive study provided by a professional tutor and light-hearted fun provided by Northern Ireland’s top board games café?

Then Catapult Tuition’s TARGET PRACTICE summer school is the answer.

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TARGET PRACTICE covers 30 different AQE Maths and Literacy themes, spread out over 30 days this summer. The image below shows the variety of themes and the dates on which they are covered. Scroll to the bottom of this page to learn about each day in more detail.

At the end of each day, clients will also receive access to a 30-minute teaching video relevant to the day’s theme.

Based at the Portview Trade Centre in East Belfast (click the contact link for full address), children can be dropped off as early as 8am and collected as late as 1pm. Before and in between sessions, children use the games kindly provided by Jack Straws board game café.

The day consists of three sessions, each an hour in length. All teaching will be carried out by me, Trevor Veale, a P6 teacher from 2015 to 2019, and now a full-time tutor.

A maximum of FOUR children may be registered for each day. Light snacks will be provided.

If a particular theme interests you but is fully booked, or you are unable to attend on that date, then contact Trevor. Once an overall picture is gathered of the more popular themes, it may be that your child’s goals can be addressed on a different date.


Each day costs £50. This not only covers the teaching but includes the provision of snacks, the hire of games, the access to 30-minutes of video teaching and the ability to have your child supervised for as much as five hours.

And as if that weren’t enough, you can book five days for the price of four: £200. You also have the flexibility to choose ANY five days from the summer school calendar.

Click here to go to the bookings page and either select the single day Target Practice option at the top of the page or scroll down to the package offer.

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The 30 days in detail

Click on a day to reveal more details.

+ day 1: speed tables / place value / decimals

Do not underestimate how essential times-tables are to AQE success. Though your child is unlikely to be asked a straightforward multiplication like 7 x 4, this knowledge lays the foundation for solving perhaps the majority of Maths questions on the tests. How can your child perform a long multiplication without this basic skill? How can they make an equivalent fraction, find a percentage, multiply with decimals, divide totals to find values within a pie chart...?

Starting with what they already know (2x, 3x, 4x, 5x and 10x tables), the students will quickly add 'square number' tables to their repertoire and realise that the only remaining barrier to mastering the tables is the DEADLY ELEVEN... (no, not the 11x tables).

The second session will focus on place value. Your child will revise each place value heading to the millions and use commas to assist them in saying large numbers.

Decimal place value to the thousandths is also addressed, with children learning how to compare numbers with differing numbers of decimal places and how to eradicate useless zeros. They will also be able to state how many tenths/hundredths/thousandths are in a number, e.g. 5.14 has 514 hundredths.

The final session will address multiplying and dividing numbers by 10, 100 and 1,000. Children will see why our decimal system enables an easy and fast method of moving digits to solve these calculations (please don't encourage the adding/taking away zeros approach).

+ day 2: tens & decimals calculations / manipulating calculations / long multiplication

Following on from yesterday's three sessions, students will use their knowledge of the times-tables and place value to quickly calculate answers to, for example, 30 x 8, 400 x 0.9 or 6.3 ÷ 7. The second session will focus on AQE questions that use a similar skillset: manipulating calculations. There are often questions that show a complicated multiplication or division with its answer. The student must then ascertain the answer to a similar calculation (perhaps one of the numbers is ten times smaller; perhaps both are).

The day finishes with the dreaded topic of long multiplication. Most children prefer to approach these the way we did at school: using columns and carrying numbers over. Though this is often NOT the quickest way to solve long multiplication challenges, there will be a focus on honing these skills before addressing other strategies that include estimating, horizontal partitioning and the very effective grid method.

+ day 3: long division / long subtraction / calculations with decimals

Formal division (sometimes referred to as the bus-stop method) will be addressed in the first session. Can your child identify how many times the divisor fits into each digit in the number and recognise where to place the remainder? Has your child confidently progressed from using remainders in the final answer to using decimal places? Can they spot divisions that are solved more quickly by using multiplication?

The second session - long subtraction - will seek to improve your child's understanding and use of the borrowing strategy but will also encourage them to identify when other strategies are faster (e.g. counting on, rounding and adjusting). Time is of the essence in AQE tests. Why waste extra minutes on a supposedly safer strategy when faster methods exist?

Finally, we will focus on calculations that involve decimals. Does your child struggle with lining up digits correctly in additions and subtractions? Do they get confused when a decimal number is to be used in a long multiplication or division?

+ day 4: factors & multiples / prime & square / cube & triangular numbers

The above terminology is essential knowledge for a wide range of AQE questions. Often children have to identify the probability of rolling a prime number with dice, placing square numbers and multiples of 3 into a Venn Diagram, finding a factor of 24 in a list of numbers, etc. Can they immediately recognise a three-digit number that is divisible by 3?

It will be extremely helpful for students to know the precise meaning of each of these six terms and memorise some basic facts related to them. Confidence with factors and multiples is particularly vital when simplifying fractions or finding common denominators.

+ day 5: patterns & sequences / function machines / basic algebra

The number and calculation theme for week 1 closes with three types of question that appear regularly on test papers.

Session 1 will focus on patterns and sequences. These could be lists of numbers that are increasing or decreasing according to a certain rule. Children may have to identify the rule of the sequence or find missing numbers within it. Alternatively, the challenge could be to look a series of pictures where patterns/shapes are changing. There is often a connection between these questions and yesterday's theme (e.g. the pattern may use triangular or square numbers).

Function machines test basic calculation skills but often require the use of inverse operations (i.e. using the opposite operation to work backwards from the answer to a starting number). Proficiency in these questions should have a positive knock-on effect upon other types of word problem, e.g. I am thinking of a number, I double it, add 17 and get 47.

The third session focuses on algebra. Replacing numbers with letters is highly confusing for many pupils entering P7, yet the same pupils may have no difficulty whatsoever in converting the word hours into a x60 equation when expressing 3 hours as minutes. The purpose of the final session is to therefore make students approach basic algebra with a high level of confidence.

+ day 6: simplifying and equivalent fractions / finding fractions of quantities / using a common denominator

Does your child recognise the rules for making equivalent fractions? Though it often does not take too long to get a grasp of the strategy, others aren't so straightforward (e.g. 6 eighths = ? twentieths). Your child may also know how to simplify a fraction but do they waste time by, as an example, continually dividing by 2 until they reach the lowest terms, or do they use their knowledge of factors to come to a faster solution?

Session 2 will help your child progress from simple fraction/division calculations (e.g. one-third of 96), through more challenging ones (e.g. three-fifths of 145) to the most difficult questions (e.g. 750ml is three-tenths of...).

Finally, students will learn how to order fractions. Often this requires only a fundamental understanding of fractions (e.g. one-fifth is smaller than one-quarter, but two-thirds is greater than both). Quite often, however, the use of a common denominator is needed.

+ day 7: ordering fractions and decimals / ordering fractions, decimals and percentages / percentages of quantities

Session 1 will begin with a reminder of basic fraction/decimal equivalences but, drawing upon last week's work with place value, will also seek to explain WHY fractions can be expressed in this way. Children will then seek to order lists of values consisting of both vulgar and decimal fractions.

It will then be time to add percentages into the mix. Session 2 will therefore not only be an opportunity to order lists of fractions, decimals and percentages, but an excellent opportunity to memorise all the key facts.

In the final session, children will find percentages of values (e.g. 20% of 80) by converting percentages into vulgar fractions. They will also carry out the inverse (e.g. 45 is 30% of...).

+ day 8: word problems using fractions of measurements / percentage reductions in prices / word problems combining fractions and percentages

Using the learning from Days 6 and 7, today's three sessions focus on the variety of word problems that use fractions, decimals and percentages.

Session 1 will deal with measurement word problems that use fraction language, e.g. Bag A = 20kg, Bag B is 10% heavier; Child A swims 400m, Child B swims four-fifths of this distance.

Session 2 concerns prices in a sale. Children will revise the strategies for finding a new price as well as the more complicated challenge of calculating the original price from a sale price.

Session 3's word problems focus on questions that contain a mix of fractions and percentages, e.g. in a class of twenty-four pupils, 25% prefer PE, one-third of the remainder prefer art and four prefer Maths...

+ day 9: improper fractions / mixed numbers / improper fractions and mixed numbers as decimals

In the first two sessions, children will revise improper fractions (also known as top heavy fractions) and mixed numbers, learning to confidently convert between the two.

In the third session, these fractions will be converted into decimal format, enabling children to solve trickier word problems (e.g. if 1.25L of juice costs 75p, how much would 2 litres cost?).

+ day 10: fractions and probability / the language of probability / frequency tables and probability

Probability connects well to fraction work. In session 1, we will see how the chances of various events occurring can be expressed as a fraction or percentage.

In session 2, children will learn key probability terms connected to likelihood. They will also learn how to represent these events on a probability scale, moving from impossible to certain.

Frequency tables can also be used to express probability. Children may be asked to complete a simple tally chart after being given a data set. Upon completion of such tasks it is often possible to express the information in probability language (e.g. what are the chances of a green counter being chosen from the container?). This will be focus of session 3.

+ day 11: nouns / adjectives / changing nouns into adjectives and vice versa

It is essential that your child be able to recognise nouns. This goes beyond obvious concrete nouns (e.g. pen) to abstract concepts (e.g. hope). They will also need to master the spelling of plurals, including a wide range of irregular plurals.

Adjectives are studied in session 2. Children will learn that 'describing words' is an insufficient definition of adjectives. They will be encouraged to connect every potential adjective to a noun before determining whether or not it is actually an adjective.

In session 3 we will consider how many adjectives have noun forms, and vice versa (e.g. angry/anger, argumentative/argument). Correct spelling is key.

+ day 12: verbs / irregular past tense verbs / adverbs

Although most easily memorised as doing words, there are other less obvious verbs (e.g. being words such as 'am', 'is' and 'are'). Upon recognising that verbs are to be found in every sentence, children will then be shown a wide range of verbs that could also be nouns, depending upon their use in a sentence (e.g. plant, dust, water). The spelling rules for regular past tense verbs will also be covered in session 1.

In session 2 pupils will learn a wide range of irregular past tense verbs. Again, learning the spelling of these words is key.

The final key part of speech to be learned is adverbs, which will be covered in session 3. Although most end with the suffix -ly children will identify adverbs that do not have this ending, as well as -ly words that are not adverbs (e.g. silly).

+ day 13: synonyms / phrase synonyms / antonyms

Synonyms appear in all AQE assessments. Although having a wide vocabulary range is extremely useful for these questions, children can learn to employ various strategies to determining the meaning of unfamiliar words (context, root word, word substitution).

This naturally leads to the focus of session 2: phrase synonyms. Employing the same strategies as session 1, children will view a wide range of phrases and find other phrases to match their meanings.

In session 3, the focus will be on antonyms (opposites). These are not necessarily going to be simple antonyms like heavy/light or long/short, but could require the child to choose appropriate suffixes or prefixes (e.g. proper/improper, thoughtful/thoughtless).

+ day 14: apostrophes for contraction / possessive apostrophes / finding errors (basic punctuation & spelling)

Session 1 covers a comprehensive list of contracted words that use an apostrophe. Children will be encouraged to recognise the position of the apostrophe in each word and the reason behind this positioning.

In session 2 the rules for possessive apostrophes will be discussed, with an eventual emphasis on apostrophes within irregular plural nouns.

Session 3 will focus on the regular AQE challenge of finding errors within a text, often punctuation errors (including apostrophe mistakes) as well as misspellings of common words.

+ day 15: homophones / metaphors & similes / rhyme & alphabetical order

Session 1 will focus on a wide range of homophone spellings and definitions. This will go beyond common homophones (there/their/they're, to/too/two).

In session 2, metaphors and similes will be contrasted. Children will look for key clues in a phrase to show whether metaphors or similes have been used and will discuss the meanings behind them.

Spotting rhymes and placing word lists into alphabetical order are also common AQE challenges. This will provide the content for session 3.

+ day 16: perimeter & area of quadrilaterals / perimeter & area of compound shapes / area of triangles

Your child should enter the AQE tests confidently knowing the difference between perimeter and area and how to find these values. In session 1 they will also be encouraged to find faster ways to calculate values when decimal numbers are included.

This will lead to a discussion of compound shapes in session 2, where strategies will be discussed for accurately calculating perimeter and area (without leaving out any bits of the shape).

In the final session, areas of triangles will be covered. These calculations are often performed in a slow, laborious manner. Children will learn that, on many occasions, faster mental calculations can be employed.

+ day 17: types of angle / finding missing angles / angles on clocks and compasses

The terms acute, right, obtuse and reflex will be explored in session 1. Children will also revise what the angles add up to within a full-turn, on a straight line, inside a triangle or quadrilateral. They will identify angle rules within intersecting lines or parallelograms and rhombuses.

They will use this learning to calculate missing angles in session 2 - another opportunity to work on faster calculation strategies.

Being able to recognise the angle size between numbers on a clock, or points on a compass (as well as using directional language related to clocks and compasses) is also a key skill to be practiced prior to AQE tests. This will be covered in session 3.

+ day 18: triangles / quadrilaterals / symmetry & coordinates

In session 1 we will be looking at the three classifications of triangle: equilateral, isosceles and scalene. Children will learn key facts about their angles, how to calculate missing angles and which types of triangle can be right-angled.

Session 2 covers the range of quadrilaterals that children should be expected to know: squares, rectangles, parallelograms, rhombuses, trapeziums and kites.

In session 3 we will progress towards plotting coordinates on graphs, connecting points to make these shapes, reflecting them through a line of symmetry and identifying lines of symmetry within each shape.

+ day 19: 3D shapes / 3D nets / 3D volume

In session 1, children will revise the names of all key 3D shapes as well as key terms such as faces, edges and vertices.

In the second session they will visualise which 3D shapes can be made from a variety of nets, using key learning from session 1. They will also look at a range of possible nets for a cube, some of which will work and some not.

In the final session, the tricky concept of volume is discussed. At first, children will practice multiplying three measurements together. However, they must also be able to calculate missing measurements when the volume is given.

+ day 20: comparing & converting measurements: length or distance / mass or weight / volume or capacity

In each of these sessions, children will revise the key conversion facts for measurements.

They will be encouraged to use the strategy of forming tables to compare and convert measurements. Too often children get confused when converting measurements ('do I divide/multiply by 10/100?'). The use of conversion tables, while at first unfamiliar to pupils, is a fast and effective tool that works with all measurement conversions and only requires the pupils to know the key conversion facts (e.g. 1000g in 1kg).

+ day 21: comprehension: summarising passages / summarising paragraphs / sequencing events

It is vital that your child be able to give a general overview of what has happened in a passage of text. Although tiny details are important for some AQE questions, and can at times affect the overall understanding of a text, if a child knows what is happening in general then they will be able to answer many questions that seek an overall summary of events.

Knowing where to retrieve specific pieces of information is also key. By summarising paragraphs (literally using just one or two words) your child will have a better idea of where to go specifically within the text to retrieve the relevant details. This is the focus of session 2.

Sequencing may sound straightforward but many passages do not tell a story in chronological order. In the final session, we will look at such passages.

+ day 22: comprehension: single-word synonyms / phrase synonyms / new vocabulary

Today's learning will be connected to Day 13 of the summer school. This time we will use AQE-style comprehensions to find words and phrases with similar meanings. Children should not hide behind the excuse of a limited vocabulary. They can use a logical process of elimination to get closer to the answers. There are ways of narrowing options (context, root words, word substitution) to give your child a higher likelihood of success in these feared questions.

+ day 23: comprehension: nouns & adjectives / verbs & adverbs / words that fit more than one category

Following on from the key learning of Days 11 and 12, students will be presented with a range of comprehension passages in which they will asked to identify the nouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs.

Being able to select the correct part of speech for a word is a regular challenge in AQE assessments. Though often straightforward when a child recognises the different roles that words play within sentences, it becomes more complicated when a word is used in an uncommon way (e.g. though blue can reasonably be expected to be an adjective, it is a noun in 'out of the blue').

+ day 24: comprehension: poetry & rhyme / alliteration & personification / metaphors & similes

Poetry will form the focus of today's sessions, firstly recognising rhythm and rhyme within poems and also understanding that a flow of thought does not necessarily end at the end of a poem's line.

Rhyme will be contrasted with alliteration in session 2 before exploring a poem's use of personification.

Personification will then be contrasted with metaphors and similes in session 3. The poet's true intentions may be hidden behind comparative language and so children need to develop the skills of reading between the lines.

+ day 25: comprehension: fact & opinion / true statements / inference

Can your child tell what an author is really saying? Do they tend to read their own thoughts and ideas into a text? Lively imaginations, if not in line with the author's intent, can lead to misunderstandings. All three sessions deal with different aspects of understanding what the author is really telling us.

+ day 26: mean (average) & range / line graphs / pie charts

Faster calculation techniques will be explored in the first session. Children often add individual numbers either mentally or in a long column when trying to find the mean in a data set. We will explore faster ways of grouping connected numbers, as well as look at some faster division methods.

In the second session, we will read data presented in line graphs. This could be data connected to a wide range of mathematical concepts such as time, temperature or distance/length. Accurate reading of plotted points, understanding of the axes, calculated comparisons between certain points all come into play in this session.

Pie charts present a lot of problems to AQE students. Children will be encouraged to use their knowledge of fractions, angles and clocks to solve a range of pie chart challenges.

+ day 27: money: calculating prices / using coins and notes / balancing money calculations

In session 1, the focus will be on calculating prices or finding missing costs on a receipt. This will be presented in a range of word problems. It is a good opportunity to hone your child's long addition/subtraction skills, along with the occasional long multiplication/division challenge.

Knowledge of coins and notes is also extremely helpful. Can your child work out the least number of coins needed to make a set amount of money? Can they work out the highest amount of money that can be accumulated from a limited set of coins? This will be the theme of the second session.

Finally, we will look at how money calculations can be balanced in order to come to totals more easily, e.g. 99p x 18 = £18 - 18p.

+ day 28: time: 12-24 hour conversions / using timelines / calendar maths

The first session will reinforce the conversions between 12-hour time and 24-hour time. Some of the focus will be on reading analogue clock faces but the majority of our time will be spent on knowing when to use am/pm suffixes and how to use the 24-hour format.

This will then lead to solving problems that commonly occur in AQE tests: measuring time lapses. In order to avoid common mistakes with time calculations (children often try to use to decimal place value system for adding/subtracting times), the use of timelines will be encouraged.

The final session will move the focus towards calendars. Children will be expected not only to know the number of days for each month of the year, but be able to work out the day of the week on which a specific date will fall. Knowing the 7-times tables could be useful...

+ day 29: time: hour-day conversions / minute-hour conversions / reading timetables

Children may be asked the number of days and hours in a set number of hours (e.g. 114 hours = how many days and hours?). Being able to quickly count in 24s will therefore be a key part of the first session. This type of Maths may also take the form of word problems.

The second session takes a similar format, this time focusing on minute/hour conversions. The use of the 6-times tables is very helpful, converting the answers to groups of 60.

Finally, we will focus on the reading of timetables, being able to determine when transport arrives/departs, which bus an individual should catch, etc.

+ day 30: faster multiplication strategies / rounding & adjusting strategies / estimation & checking strategies

Too much time can be wasted performing long multiplications using the column method. Not only this, its written form, if untidy, can lead to unnecessary errors. In the first session, we will focus on faster strategies that can be more effective in reaching an answer: these include horizontal partitioning and the grid method as well as faster ways to multiply large numbers by 5 and 9.

In the second session we will look at addition and subtraction and how the rounding & adjusting strategy saves much time (e.g. subtracting 100 and adding 2 instead of trying to subtract 98 directly).

In the final session we will see the usefulness of making fast estimations before performing a long calculation. A range of 'finished work' will also be presented for the students to check. Will they be able to mark the work correctly?