As a school we aim to ensure that all children leave us prepared for the world as ‘Global Explorers’ equipped to pursue any career they choose. Being ‘aspirational’ is one of our core strands to our curriculum. It is important that all children leave us with a good foundation in Mathematics so that they can aspire to be anything that they want to. We want every child to be successful and encourage children to develop an “I can do Maths” attitude. The success of our curriculum is seen in our pupils’ ability to discuss and reason mathematically and apply their knowledge and skills to problem solving and investigative tasks.
Maths at St Nicholas
We have embedded a whole school approach to planning, teaching and learning for Maths. Where possible, we take opportunities to teach maths across the curriculum, for instance handling data within science, using measures such as distance or temperature in geography or linking negative number to timelines in ancient history. It is important that maths is relevant and purposeful.
Mastery of Mathematics is a teaching methodology adopted by the most successful countries in Asia, ranking highest in the world in terms of mathematical attainment by the age of 15. The National Curriculum encourages a mastery approach and introduction of the ‘Expected Standard’ for each year group emphasises the importance of children achieving sets of key skills and knowledge. This approach dictates that children, once meeting the objectives, are extended through questioning, deep analysis and exploration to broaden their knowledge. Thus ensuring that concepts are fully and securely understood before moving onto new objectives.
An essential part of teaching for mastery is the CPA Approach (concrete, pictorial, abstract). The calculation policy focuses on the links between, and also the progression through, Concrete, Pictorial and Abstract. Teachers go between the three different stages to reinforce concepts.
Concrete is the ‘active’ stage, using concrete objects/manipulatives to solve problems. Manipulatives are chosen for the pupils by the teacher. Manipulatives are selected upon the most appropriate for the concept. Teachers may vary which manipulatives are used for a concept.
Pictorial is the ‘seeing’ stage, using representations of the objects involved in maths problems. This stage encourages children to make a mental connection between the physical object and abstract levels of understanding, by drawing or looking at pictures, circles, diagrams or models which represent the objects in the problem.
Abstract is the ‘symbolic’ stage, where children are able to use abstract symbols to model and solve maths problems. The ‘abstract’ concept is introduced when children has a firm understanding of the ’concrete’ and ‘pictorial.
In lessons, you will find the teacher engaging in whole class teaching, developing carefully scaffolded examples to build knowledge through small steps. Pupils will be using base ten, rods, counters, tens frames or Numicon to explore new concepts with a great emphasis on securing knowledge of Place value before anything else. Pupils will draw pictures to represent their objects and use part part whole, bar modelling and number lines to show these representations.
Pupils spend much longer than previously on core concepts to ensure that they are secure and embedded before moving onto new learning. Pupils who grasp concepts quickly will be encouraged to go to Greater Depth and use and apply that knowledge to different situations, solving problems and completing investigations. Pupils who are struggling to grasp concepts are not given easier work to do but are supported through targeted support and/or use of manipulatives.
As a school we use the White Rose Maths scheme of learning as a guide for small steps in learning. We ensure only high quality resources are used to support learning and these are selected from the NCETM resources Ready to Progress Documents, the Professional Development Spines and ‘I see Reasoning’ documents.
Long term plans have been carefully considered to ensure that sufficient time is given to the foundations of Number and Place Value, Number facts and Calculating before applying these to other areas of mathematics.
Medium Term Planning outlines the progression for each unit and enables Staff to identify objectives which may take longer to fully embed, misconceptions that may arise and where appropriate Greater Depth tasks can be included to deepen learning.
Children begin to learn the basics of maths mastery from the Foundation Stage where all their Maths is contextualised into real world experiences using objects initially before making links to pictures and abstract number. Maths in the Foundation Stage is always given within a real-life problem. Children in Reception class also begin to develop their number facts systematically by learning ‘Number of the Week.’ This enables children to start Key Stage One with firm foundations in partitioning numbers to 10, subitising numbers and the basics in addition, subtraction, grouping and sharing.
Lessons across the school follow an agreed coherent structure and include:
Rapid Recall: An opportunity for children to develop their fluency of Key Instant Recall Facts
Wizard Warm Ups: Daily arithmetic sessions to revisit and consolidate learning to ensure skills stay fresh
Guided Practice: A scaffolded session where learning is active and engaging. Children have the opportunity to use carefully selected concrete objects, followed by pictorial representations before moving to abstract tasks. Learning during guided practice makes connections between what children already know and new learning.
Independent Practice: During this stage children are given further tasks to apply, challenge and embed new learning and where appropriate support work is given to enable all children to succeed at their learning.
Star Challenge: Allows opportunities for children to develop further problem solving and reasoning skills through application of knowledge and skills to other contexts or ‘real life’ examples.
Brain Buster (Greater Depth): These challenges are available to all learners and consist of tasks or problems which extend learning through questioning, deep analysis and exploration to broaden their knowledge.
Supporting all Learners
At St Nicholas, careful design of lessons ensures that all pupils’ are actively involved in making links between previous and new learning. Staff look positively on learners’ potential and avoid putting a ‘ceiling’ on any child’s access to learning.
Throughout a lesson Staff closely monitor progress and support required by pupils and ensure tasks given during independent practice enable children to work on and succeed at their learning. Pre-teaching has proved highly successful to the success of learners across our school. The excellent knowledge Staff have of pupils’ and their learning needs means support can be given to pupils’ before a lesson (focusing on making links, new learning and addressing misconceptions) in order to build confidence and self-esteem. The impact of this is that our pupils’ feel more confident in lessons and so achieve more.
At St Nicholas we aim to ensure that children leave our school with a proficient level of fluency in fundamental mathematical facts. Number facts are designed to support the development of the mental skills that underpin much of the mathematics work in school. They are particularly useful when calculating, be it adding, subtracting, multiplying or dividing. Secure knowledge of these facts frees up areas of the brain for more complex problem solving and reasoning.
At St Nicholas we have ensured a systematic approach to acquiring a secure knowledge of fluency facts from Reception to Year 6. Every year group focuses on a certain Number fact each term and these are rehearsed during the Rapid Recall section of every lesson. Key Stage 1 focus on addition and subtraction number facts to 20. Key Stage 2 focus on Times Tables.
Times Table Facts
With the introduction of the times table check, Year 2 to Year 4 support learners to ensure fluency of all times tables facts by the end of Year 4 (these are also incorporated into our Number Facts). A progression document for these year groups has been designed to ensure daily, short practice sessions become a fundamental part of each classes’ daily timetable. Children complete two timed sessions of daily practice and Staff use scores to track progress and identify areas for support in learning.
As a school we subscribe to Numbots and Professor Assessor which we use for children to support their Number Facts at home. Teachers track engagement and progress and use this to inform areas of support in school.
Mrs Hill, our Deputy Headteacher has been a Maths Mastery Specialist for the Mobius Maths Hub for the last 3 years and spent time working with teachers in Shanghai to learn about Teaching for Mastery and best practice in global Maths education. Mrs Hill is also a Specialist Leader of Education for Pickwick Teaching Schools Alliance and has also worked for the Local Authority supporting Teaching and Learning in local schools. She hosts Teacher Research Groups (TRGS) of groups of local teachers to develop Maths Mastery and teachers from other schools come to St Nicholas to watch out teachers teach and develop their own practice further.
Internally all teachers and TA’s have access to regular support and training from our Maths Mastery Specialist. We ensure that all our staff are up to date on the latest guidance, methods and pedagogy.
Unfortunately not the ones with chocolate chips.
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