We endeavour to equip all children with the essential skills and confidence they will need in their future lives to tackle a range of problems through fluency with numbers and mathematical reasoning. We do this through fun, interactive lessons and help children to foster a ‘can do’ attitude in their Maths learning, an understanding that ‘Maths is fun and everyone can do it!’
During the past year we have embarked on a Maths Mastery programme as part of a Teacher Research Group led by Cambridgeshire Maths Hub to further develop our teaching and learning in Maths.
Our Mastery approach to teaching and learning in Mathematics
“Mastering Maths means pupils acquiring a deep, long-term, secure and adaptable understanding of the subject.”
“The phrase ‘teaching for mastery’ describes the elements of classroom practice and school organisation
that combine to give pupils the best chances of mastering Maths.”
(National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics, NCETM)
‘Teaching for Mastery’ is about continual improvement and the expectation that all children are capable of achieving high standards in their Maths learning. There are certain principles and key features which characterise this approach:-
What might a ‘Maths Mastery’ lesson look like in our school?
The importance of effective planning is key. We plan in line with National Curriculum requirements using the ‘White Rose Schemes of Learning’ and a recent addition to our curriculum planning resources has been ‘Power Maths,’ which also aligns with our mastery approach. Teachers work closely together across classes, phases and key stages to ensure continuity, consistency and progression. Regular staff training sessions are in place to develop our ‘teaching for mastery’ planning approach. Our support staff have been involved in this also as their role is seen as pivotal in the successful implementation of a mastery approach in the classroom.
Teachers build upon prior learning in carefully planned lessons which guide children through new learning ‘step by step’. Children move on to a new concept only when they are secure in the concept currently being taught.
Children work through the curriculum together as a class. Effective questioning ensures that all children can access the content of the lesson. They are guided through the learning in a series of ‘small steps’ with appropriate questioning and scaffolds to support differing abilities. We aim to help children develop a growth mindset to explore misconceptions and to identify their next steps in learning.
Identifying misconceptions is key to ensuring that there can be swift intervention as soon as possible so that all children are able to keep up with the concepts being taught. This is either done on an individual basis or in small support groups. If children are struggling to keep up or where a gap has been identified in understanding, specific interventions are put in place to support children, eg, ‘1st Class @ Number.’ These additional support sessions happen outside of the daily Maths lesson. More able attainers are challenged to deepen their understanding of the topic through complex and demanding problems. There are opportunities for our young mathematicians to take part in local events, eg, the Year 5 Maths Challenge.
A great emphasis is placed on the importance of ‘representation and structure’, using concrete resources in every classroom to develop key principles.
All pupils regardless of their age, have access to a range of representations:
Children go back and forth between each of the stages. This ensures concepts are reinforced and understood. The aim is that they will eventually have less reliance on the concrete resources and pictorial stages as mathematical concepts become firmly embedded.
We have adopted the 'Steeple Big 5' – key representations that children are familiar with:-
Place Value Charts & Counters
In addition we also use tens frames, bead strings and many other resources to reinforce the importance of the ‘Build it, Say it, Draw it, Write it’ model! These are visible in all classrooms on our interactive ‘Maths Working Walls.’
We value the importance of teaching children the correct mathematical vocabulary from the earliest age. ‘Maths talk’ is important to reinforce concepts.
‘Sentence stems’ form a key part of mastery lessons. These help the children to put their maths learning into words and give them a scaffold on which to verbalise new concepts.
Children are encouraged to make connections between the different elements of their Maths learning when reasoning about concepts. Making these connections will ensure that a deep knowledge is developed over time. If taught ideas are to be understood deeply, children need to think about them and discuss and reason with others.
The fluency of quick and efficient recall of facts and procedures and the flexibility to move between different contexts and representations in mathematics is recognised as key and comes from deep knowledge and frequent practice. We work hard to learn and recall key number facts at speed. At an early age (Year 2 onwards) we begin to follow our ‘Tackling Tables’ approach, detailed below:
Variation is twofold – conceptual and procedural. It is firstly about how the teacher represents the concept being taught, often in more than one way, to draw attention to critical aspects, and to develop a deep understanding, eg,
It is also about the sequencing of the steps, (procedural) - the activities and exercises used within a lesson and follow up practice, paying attention to what is kept the same and what changes, to connect the mathematics and draw attention to mathematical relationships and structure, eg,
How can parents help with mathematical learning at home?
Maths is all around us – house numbers on the way to school, weighing ingredients to bake a cake, working out change when shopping, telling the time, playing a game of snakes and ladders etc All of these real life scenarios have a part to play in developing your child’s mathematical awareness. The online learning platform we use to support with this too is detailed below:-
We encourage parents to take an active role in the development of their child’s Maths skills.
In Early Years and Year 1, mathematical activities are sent home to encourage children to recognise the maths happening all around them and to develop their sense of number, shape and space. Activities are practical and interactive.
Homework tasks are set using the Mathletics learning platform from Years 2 to 6. All activities set link directly with concepts taught in lessons and are aligned with the White Rose Schemes of Learning.
Pupils are encouraged to engage with the tasks and certificates are awarded in school to celebrate achievements.
Maths Open Mornings
We are keen to share our mathematical teaching and learning so that parents are confident in how best to support their child at home.
We have held two open mornings so far, one focussing on how we use practical apparatus and different representations to support our learning and the second focussing on key calculation methods and how they may have changed since parents learnt them at school!
‘Tackling Tables’ is the main method we use to practise our multiplication and division facts in school (from Year 2 to Year 6) with a great deal of enthusiasm! We practise with a series of colour coded cards:- Blue Phase - 2x, 5x, 10x tables, Green Phase -3x, 4x, 6x, 11x tables and Red Phase -7x, 8x, 9x, 12x tables. This is a fun and engaging way of improving our fluency and the weekly tests are a challenge against the clock! This work in school is supported by practice at home using our home packs. Our Friday Celebration Assembly gives the children the opportunity to share their successes – whether that is a pupil in Year 2 achieving their first certificate to take home or some of our older pupils challenging themselves with factors, fractions and decimals! This approach is supplemented with the use of technology.
If you would like to know any further information about our teaching and learning of Maths, please do get in touch via email:- firstname.lastname@example.org and we would be happy to help.
Jo Daniels (Maths Subject Leader)