In implementing our vision for mathematics, we follow several key principles:
At St Mark's, we use the White Rose Hub as our main vehicle to support mastery in mathematics from EYFS to Year 6. Each year, learning is split into extended blocks where subjects can be studied in depth, progressing through a variety of small steps. These build sequentially to develop secure skills in each block, whilst throughout, exposing the children to reasoning and problem solving opportunities to enable them to apply their understanding and make links.
For most children, it takes several revisits of an area before they are truly confident working with it. By carefully structuring each lesson, we aim to revisit learning several times within a year. A key tool in this is the use of ‘Flashback’, a starter for each day, which explores up to four different areas.
We than move onto a fluency/ arithmetic session which offers the flexibility to consolidate, revisit and build on previous learning. Skills are built upon through repeated challenges and tasks, for instance through an increasingly tricky times-tables challenge.
Consequently, lessons are pacey and offer plenty of opportunity to reinforce previous skills and make links. Consolidation time is built into long-term planning to enable individual classes and year groups to spend time on identified areas as necessary.
This cyclical approach benefits all children and is recognised as being of particular benefit to children with SEND including those who have symptoms of dyscalculia.
Children are encouraged to develop key skills such as number bonds, doubling, halving, fluent addition and subtraction and multiplication tables. These skills are the bedrock upon which all is built: the more confident and proficient children become in these, the more fluent they will become in all areas maths. Given this importance, a portion of every lesson is spent in securing these foundations, especially in the use of the four operations; key fraction, decimal and percentage skills; and the development of a solid appreciation of place value.
It is easy to see Maths as a set of unrelated rules to be learnt and followed. We feel that it is far better to equip children with a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts and show them how areas link together, so that they can confidently apply their understanding to a wide range of problems and investigations. All lessons contain reasoning opportunities and extension activities for children to demonstrate a deeper and wider understanding. Use of the White Rose resources allows children to move rapidly from conceptual understanding, to becoming fluent and then mastering each area of learning.
Central to the White Rose approach is exposure to a wide range of visual and practical models. Therefore learning always takes a concrete-pictorial starting point and mathematical models are revisited throughout. Right the way through the school, children’s understanding is developed and reinforced by carefully selected models and practical resources to cement children’s understanding of their learning.
We use manipulatives and representations to expose mathematical structure. By ensuring that there is a consistent approach across year groups, children’s cognitive demand is lowered as they re-encounter familiar representations – this supports the children in forming rich connections and an incremental development in understanding.
During lessons, almost all children work towards achieving the same learning intention. We teach mathematics through small steps so that gaps do not develop, and any misconceptions are remediated at the earliest opportunity. Through this approach, children make rich connections within their mathematical understanding and can talk about these. We want children to ‘think’ mathematically.
However, we recognise that children develop an understanding of mathematical concepts at different rates, and require differing levels of support at times. Through breakaway teaching those children who we identify as needing additional support can immediately receive it, often utilising alternate models and resources to address misconceptions or gaps in learning.
We understand that some children will need their learning carefully scaffolded so that they can access the curriculum at their level. These children’s needs are carefully planned for within each lesson.
Where further additional support is needed, flexible, targeted and responsive intervention groups run outside of the maths lesson where small groups of children can receive specific extra support to enable them to progress appropriately. A full range of auditory, visual and kinaesthetic approaches, including Numicon, are employed.
We believe that almost all children are able to thrive through the mastery curriculum described above. However, where individual children have profound and specific learning needs, which cannot be addressed through breakaway teaching and intervention, their needs are carefully matched with another year group’s curriculum alongside any other programme or resource they might use (for instance one recommended by an educational professional or outside body). These children are always supported by a member of staff including their teacher.
Homework is set each week on Teams to reinforce learning. Guidance is given to enable parents to see methods used at school, to enable them to better support approaches being taught. Parents evenings and written reports identify specific focus areas for children to work on at home. In addition, children have full access to IXL and Times Tables Rock Stars and are encouraged to make use of these at home to enhance their learning. Maths events are held on occasions to help raise the profile of maths in the school, for example 100 Day. Periodic parental maths information events have been run to enable current approaches to maths to be modelled and for parents to have questions answered.