Maths at Thorndown Primary School
Maths Subject Lead: Liam Brook
EYFS Maths Lead: Hannah Williams
At Thorndown, we are passionate about maths! We firmly believe that all pupils are capable of understanding and doing mathematics, given sufficient time. Pupils are neither ‘born with the maths gene’ nor ‘just no good at maths’. With good teaching, appropriate resources, effort and a can do attitude, all children can achieve in and enjoy mathematics.
Our aim is that all children develop a deep conceptual understanding of maths. We aim to equip all pupils with the skills and confidence to solve a range of problems through fluency with numbers and mathematical reasoning. Children are encouraged to see the maths that surrounds them every day and enjoy developing vital life skills in this subject.
Teaching for Mastery
Over the last few years, we have been working to improve the teaching and learning of mathematics. We work closely with Cambridge Maths Hub and, through participation in the NCETM Maths Hub programme for Mastery Specialist Teachers and a number of other projects, we are continually developing our practice in teaching for mastery. We also collaborate with and support other schools to develop their teaching and learning of maths.
“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 do maths lessons look like in our school?
The importance of effective planning is key. We plan in line with the National Curriculum for Mathematics and the latest DfE guidance using the materials from the NCETM to support us. Teachers work closely together across classes and key stages to ensure continuity, consistency and progression. We hold regular training sessions for both teachers and teaching assistants to help all staff to develop their practice, and we enable staff to visit each other’s classrooms as we learn together. (See below for our curriculum overview.)
Teachers build upon prior learning in carefully planned lessons which guide children through new learning, ‘step by step’ in a coherent journey. Children move on to a new concept only when they are secure in the concept currently being taught. Sometimes, it might appear that learning is slow, but in giving children the opportunity to explore concepts in a variety of ways and with regular practice and retrieval of knowledge, they achieve deep, meaningful understanding which they remember and can apply to new contexts.
Children work through the curriculum together as a class. They are guided through the learning in a series of small steps with appropriate scaffolds and challenges to support differing needs. Some children might need additional support and we use strategies such as pre-teaching and interventions to help all children to be successful. There are also opportunities for our young mathematicians to take part in local events, such as the Year 5 Maths Challenge.
A great emphasis is placed on the importance of representation and structure. We use concrete resources in every classroom to develop key concepts.
All pupils, regardless of their age, have access to a range of representations and we use the CPA approach:
- concrete – use of real objects and manipulatives
- pictorial – use of pictures and symbolic representations
- abstract – use of numerals and equations
Children go back and forth between each of the CPA stages as new learning is introduced. This ensures concepts are reinforced and understood. The aim is that they will eventually rely less on the concrete resources and pictorial stages as mathematical concepts become firmly embedded.
- We value the importance of teaching children the correct mathematical vocabulary from the earliest age and do not shy away from using what, to us, might seem like difficult language. The vocabulary empowers children to be able to talk about their maths and explain their thinking. This online dictionary for children is great at explaining the technical vocabulary we use. (We are currently producing a glossary for parents. In the meantime, the NCETM have a National Curriculum Glossary which staff use.)
- Stem sentences are a key part of our maths lessons. These help the children to learn new concepts and give them a scaffold on which to verbalise their learning.
Fluency – the ability to quickly and efficiently recall facts and procedures and the flexibility to move between different contexts and representations in mathematics – is very important and comes from deep knowledge and frequent practice.
- In addition to the daily maths lesson, children from Year 1 to Year 6 take part in daily fluency sessions to improve their number sense and their ability to recall key facts with accuracy and efficiency, as well as developing their flexibility when working with numbers. In Reception, Year 1 and Year 2, we are are participating with the Maths Hub in the new Mastering Number programme and in KS2, we use our own ‘Rainbow Recall’ programme. (More information regarding our teaching of fluency will follow soon.)
Variation is twofold – conceptual and procedural.
Conceptual variation is 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.
- Procedural variation is about the sequencing of the steps – 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.
What do children learn in maths at Thorndown?
Mathematics learning starts in our Early Years and it is essential that all children develop firm mathematical foundations in a way that is engaging, and appropriate for their age.
There are six key areas of early mathematics learning, which provide a platform for everything children will encounter as they progress through their maths learning.
Planning takes account of carefully researched learning trajectories and, in addition to short, daily direct teaching sessions, children learn through play and exploration.
In Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2, we use the National Curriculum Mathematics Programmes of Study (September 2013) and the DfE Guidance for Mathematics (June 2020).
Whilst the Programmes of Study from 2013 set out the statutory curriculum requirements for maths, the guidance in 2020 aimed to bring greater coherence to the national curriculum by exposing core concepts in the national curriculum and demonstrating progression from Year 1 to Year 6.
The guidance summarises the most important knowledge and understanding within each year group and important connections between these mathematical topics.
It identifies the most important conceptual knowledge and understanding that pupils need as they progress from Year 1 to Year 6. These important concepts are referred to as ready-to-progress criteria (RTPs) and provide a coherent, linked framework to support pupils’ mastery of the primary mathematics curriculum. These RTPs are summarised in this document.
When planning, we use materials from the National Centre for Excellence in Teaching Mathematics. This document provides an overview of the core knowledge and skills prioritised within the latest DfE guidance.
Teachers adapt and supplement the resources to meet the needs of their pupils. Other resources commonly used are those produced by NRich and Gareth Metcalf (I See Maths). In addition, we enhance the curriculum with elements such as fortnightly Maths Eyes activities and Marvellous Maths Days.
We are constantly reflecting on and improving our curriculum, taking account of research and developmental learning trajectories. This is of particular importance at the moment due to the disruptions to schooling during the pandemic.
We have also been working to develop a growth mindset attitude, which is really important in maths, such that children (and adults) value effort, perseverance and the role of mistakes in helping us learn. Our learning climate is such that pupils feel safe to have a go and develop a positive attitude towards challenge and struggle. We talk explicitly about making errors, the need to think deeply and we often refer to being in the ‘Learning Pit’, and how ‘it’s good to be stuck’ and that we need to be ‘comfortable with being uncomfortable.’
Information for Parents
The maths we teach at Thorndown may look very different from the lessons that parents experienced when they were at school. We hold regular Open Classrooms so parents can see maths lessons in action, and we also host workshops so that parents can learn more about how children learn and build their maths knowledge and skills, and how we teach maths to support them to do so.
Please follow the links below to see the presentations and information from some of our parent workshops.
Click HERE to view Fluency Games for Addition and Subtraction – Instructions
Click HERE to view Fluency Games for Addition and Subtraction – Game Boards
Click HERE to view Number Sense Games
Click HERE to view Tens Frames Deck of Cards
For 2022, our Calculation Policy is now live. In this document you will find how we teach the four operations within Thorndown.