Teaching for Success in Mathematics
What will maths look like at Eastnor Primary School?
Every classroom has a dedicated maths area, and maths displays, where a wide range of maths resources are available and accessible for all children to use in order to help them understand new concepts and skills. Interactive whiteboards and iPads are also used throughout the maths curriculum to help make maths exciting and accessible to all. We make regular use of game playing, both in class and at home for homework, especially to help with the learning and recall of important number facts.
In addition to our Maths lessons, daily Basic Skills sessions take place to enable our pupils to secure their fluency in arithmetic. Pupils should be able to recall and apply mathematical knowledge both rapidly and accurately. Fluency often gets confused for just memorisation – it is far more than this. As well as fluency of facts and procedures, pupils should be able to move confidently between contexts and representations, recognise relationships and make connections in mathematics. This should help pupils develop a deep conceptual understanding of the subject.
We have a whole school calculation policy which ensures that all staff and children are consistent in their use of effective and efficient teaching and learning methods. This helps ensure a smooth transition from class to class. The Calculation Policy is available for parents on the school website so they can see how maths is taught at Eastnor.
We make effective use of maths intervention strategies to target learners who might need additional support at times and also provide extension opportunities, sometimes alongside children from other schools, in order to challenge children to reach their highest potential.
Number at the heart of the curriculum
A large proportion of time is spent reinforcing number to build competency and fluency, with more time devoted to this than other areas of mathematics. It is important that pupils secure these key foundations of maths before being introduced to more difficult concepts. This increased focus on number will allow pupils to explore the concepts in more detail and secure a deeper understanding.
Focus on depth - Deepen understanding before accelerating content coverage
All pupils benefit from deepening their conceptual understanding of mathematics. Pupils must be given time to fully understand, explore and apply ideas, rather than accelerate through new topics. This approach enables pupils to truly grasp a concept, and the challenge comes from investigating it in new, alternative and more complex ways.
Multiple representations for all - Concrete, pictorial, abstract
Objects, pictures, words, numbers and symbols are everywhere. Our maths teaching incorporates all of these to help pupils explore and demonstrate mathematical ideas, enrich their learning experience and deepen understanding. Together, these elements help cement knowledge so pupils truly understand what they’ve learnt.
All pupils, when introduced to a key new concept, should have the opportunity to build competency in this topic by taking this approach. Pupils are encouraged to physically represent mathematical concepts. Objects and pictures are used to demonstrate and visualise abstract ideas, alongside numbers and symbols.
Concrete – Pupils should have the opportunity to use concrete objects and manipulatives to help them understand and explain what they are doing.
Pictorial – Pupils should then build on this concrete approach by using pictorial representations. These representations can then be used to reason and solve problems.
Abstract – With the foundations firmly laid, students should be able to move to an abstract approach using numbers and key concepts with confidence.
Fluency, reasoning and problem solving – teaching supports the aims of the National Curriculum
Mathematical problem solving is at the heart of our approach. Pupils are encouraged to identify, understand and apply relevant mathematical principles and make connections between different ideas. This builds the skills needed to tackle new problems, rather than simply repeating routines without a secure understanding.
Mathematical concepts are explored in a variety of representations and problem-solving contexts to give pupils a richer and deeper learning experience. Pupils combine different concepts to solve complex problems, and apply knowledge to real-life situations.
The way pupils speak and write about mathematics transforms their learning. Our approaches use a carefully sequenced, structured approach to introduce and reinforce mathematical vocabulary. Pupils explain the mathematics in full sentences. They should be able to say not just what the answer is, but how they know it’s right. This is key to building mathematical language and reasoning skills.
What does it mean to master skills in mathematics?
A mathematical concept or skill has been mastered when a pupil can represent it in multiple ways, has the mathematical language to communicate related ideas, and can independently apply the concept to new problems in unfamiliar situations.
Mastery is a journey and long-term goal, achieved through exploration, clarification, practice and application over time. At each stage of learning, pupils should be able to demonstrate a deep, conceptual understanding of the topic and be able to build on this over time.
This is not about just being able to memorise key facts and procedures, which tends to lead to superficial understanding that can easily be forgotten. Pupils should be able to select which mathematical approach is most effective in different scenarios.