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Skip early levels in Story Mode (NumBots)
Skip early levels in Story Mode (NumBots)

Turn off maths topics so your pupils can skip past those levels in Story mode

Sarah Parrish avatar
Written by Sarah Parrish
Updated over a week ago

We think it's best for all pupils to start at the very beginning of Story Mode, on Rust Level 1, and work their way through the stages consecutively. This is for a number of reasons:

  • All children benefit from reaffirming the foundations of maths.

  • You can be sure they have not missed out on any key maths skills which could trip them up later when the levels get more complex.

  • Children become accustomed to the way different types of levels work and familiar with the various representations.

  • They'll notice patterns and similarities between easier questions and more difficult ones, which will help them to answer the difficult ones.

  • They'll become more invested in the story of Rusty if they start at the beginning.

  • They'll receive rewards and unlock certain features at the optimum time to be most motivational.

Nevertheless, some older children may be reluctant to start at the very beginning of Story Mode as they consider it to be "too easy" for them or a waste of time.

In these situations, so that the child can still benefit from playing the more challenging levels on NumBots, you can turn off maths topics which you are certain they are already fluent at. They will then be able to skip these levels in Story Mode.

Word of caution:

Only recommended when you wish to permanently allow certain pupils to skip more basic levels.

Not recommended for hiding topics, that you wish to reveal at a later stage.


Levels are interleaved, meaning a single Stage (e.g. Steel) may contain many different topics. When you turn off a topic, individual levels across multiple Stages may be hidden. If you unhide topics after a child has been playing for a while, it will push the child back to a far earlier Stage to complete the additional levels, which can be demotivating.

How to turn off levels on early topics in Story Mode:

  1. Log in to your teacher's account here.

  2. Go to "Story Controls", then select the name of your maths class in the menu on the left.

  3. Click the green "Select maths topics" button in the first container, to turn off some levels for pupils in the Main Group.

  4. In the pop-up that appears, you'll notice all six categories are set to ON by default. This means that the pupils currently have access to all of Story Mode's levels. Click on the toggle switches to turn off the topics you do not want the pupils to practise. Then click "Save".

  5. (Optional*) If you'd like to set some children in the class different topics to their classmates, drag their names down into the container below, and set the maths topics for that group of pupils by clicking "Select maths topics" in that container.

Important: please ask the children to log out and log back in in order for the changes to take effect.


*Should I set my whole class the same topics?

Ideally, yes. When every child in the class starts in the same position, nobody feels left behind or like they've been unfairly held back while other pupils have been allowed to skip ahead. This helps prevent the children who stand to benefit most from NumBots becoming disinclined to play because they are being made to start at an earlier level than their classmates, who have had the easier topics turned off.

You'll know the individual characters and abilities of the pupils in your class best, however we'd recommend having the same topics turned on for all children in the class if possible as it will feel fairer to the pupils, they will all be able to follow the same story line, and you'll be able to compare their progress and achievements more effectively.

My pupils are in Reception / Key Stage 1. Should I turn off any topics for them?

No. We recommend that all of Reception, Year 1 and 2*, at least, start from the beginning of Story Mode. While more confident children in those year groups may quickly move though the first few stages before they reach levels that challenge them more, all Key Stage 1 children will reap the benefits of repeating foundation skills.

Through repetition, a skill becomes easier, eventually moving from the conscious to the subconscious. Once a pupil is able to perform a skill automatically, without having to consciously work out the answer, that frees up mental load when the questions become more complex and the skills required to answer them begin to layer up on top of each other.

*Equivalent to K1, K2 & Grade 1 (US)

My pupils aren’t ready to complete the difficult topics yet. Should I turn them off?

No. You should only turn off topics which your pupils have already mastered, if you want them to skip past those levels. Leave any topics that your pupils are yet to learn turned on, to avoid complications in the future. (And don’t worry! We'll never let your pupils move onto a new maths topic until they are ready to.)

I've turned off a topic but have now changed my mind. Can I turn it back on?

Yes, however do bear in mind that your pupils will have to return to any levels they skipped and complete them, before they can continue progressing through Story Mode. You may also need to explain why they have been sent back to a previous level or stage. This is a reason we recommend leaving all topics on from the start, unless you are absolutely certain that you’ll never want your pupils to complete a topic.

What happens if I move children between groups in Story Controls?

If both groups have the same topics set, moving a pupil between them will not affect which levels are turned on for that pupil.

However, if the groups have different topics set, the levels that are turned on will change according to the group they've moved into. Moving pupils between groups with different topics set has the same effect as turning topics off and on again, so it’s best to avoid moving pupils between groups once you've set the topics and the pupils have started using NumBots.

When should I turn the topics off?

Ideally never! We think it's best for all children to work through from the very beginning of Story Mode, so you should leave all the topics turned on, which is the default setting.

However, if you definitely want your pupils to skip some of the early levels, the ideal time to turn off those topics would be before your pupils ever start playing NumBots - and then never touch the topics again (as turning levels off and on again, once pupils have started completing levels, can complicate their progress).

If I turn a topic off, will my pupils still achieve the same in-game rewards?

No, which is another reason to leave all topics on. In order to collect all five robot parts and earn the “Stage Completed” badge, pupils need to pass every level in a stage. If your pupils are unable to complete every level in the stage because you have turned some of them off, they will not earn the rewards for completing the stage.

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