Mathematics is a creative and highly inter-connected discipline that has been developed over centuries, providing the solution to some of history’s most intriguing problems. It is essential to everyday life, critical to science, technology and engineering, and necessary for financial literacy and most forms of employment. A high-quality mathematics education therefore provides a foundation for understanding the world, the ability to reason mathematically, an appreciation of the beauty and power of mathematics, and a sense of enjoyment and curiosity about the subject.
At Longthorpe Primary School, we strive to develop confident and curious mathematicians who have a positive self-belief and are willing to take risks, understanding that mistakes contribute to learning opportunities and therefore success. All of our staff aim to inspire and enthuse our mathematics learners and celebrate their perseverance and foster a positive growth mind-set. In class, our active learners are encouraged to collaborate through effective communication and exacting vocabulary, allowing them to reason and explain their systematic thinking. To inspire confident mathematicians, we aim to develop pupils’ number sense so that they can manipulate numbers, make links with new learning and spot patterns. Our mathematics curriculum has been designed to enable our pupils to:
- become fluent in the fundamentals of mathematics, so that they develop conceptual understanding and the ability to recall and apply knowledge rapidly and accurately.
- reason mathematically by following a line of enquiry, conjecturing relationships and generalisations, and developing an argument, justification or proof using mathematical language.
- solve problems by applying their mathematics to a variety of routine and non-routine problems with increasing sophistication, including breaking down problems into a series of simpler steps and persevering in seeking solutions.
At Longthorpe Primary School, we use the mastery approach to learning and teaching maths - utilising the Primary Advantage Maths (PAM) tool. We have chosen this tool as it has been devised by a specialist maths team and the backbone of this curriculum is the spiralling of maths strands, where each revisit builds on prior learning in small but stretching steps resulting in coherent learning that sticks. The mastery approach is characterised by the belief that by working hard all pupils can succeed at maths – and that maths can and should be an inclusive subject for all. At the core of our curriculum is the ‘Concrete – Pictorial – Abstract’ (CPA) approach; learning that is supported and scaffolded with concrete manipulatives or pictorial representations to ensure pupils gain a depth of mathematics understanding. Pupils move onto abstract recording when they are ready (e.g., the standardised method of long division) so they have firm conceptual foundations around the area of maths being taught.
Through our curriculum, pupils gain a rapid accurate recall of number facts after explicit input from teachers and a variety of fluency practise tasks. Where possible, maths units are linked to real life and purposeful processes and outcomes so that our pupils can see how relevant maths is in the ‘real world’. In our classes, learners feel safe to make mistakes and get stuck because we ensure there is a strong culture of error. Teachers will often pre-teach potential misconceptions and advise on barriers to learning and they will explicitly teach subject specific vocabulary. The teaching and learning expectations across each maths module include:
- Collaborative learning with frequent dedicated pupil talk time.
- Conceptual variation through mathematical structures (concrete and pictorial).
- Procedural variation so that pupils use patterns and adjustments for efficient calculation.
- Coherence and continuity so the same methods are taught and built on throughout the mathematics curriculum.
The PAM curriculum ensures that deliberate links are made between differing strands of maths so that these strands are not taught in isolation. For example, the teaching of the concept of ‘measure’ incorporating addition and subtraction skills. Additionally, the DfE ‘Ready to Progress’ objectives are woven into our PAM curriculum and are taught throughout the year. This ensures that priority is given to the key objectives which are needed in each year to allow a secure foundation for the next year’s learning.
At the beginning of a mathematics unit, a diagnostic activity is carried out to illicit prior knowledge and any misconceptions being displayed. Any misconceptions are then woven into the unit planning to ensure they are addressed within teaching. The first session is usually an exploration session, which focuses on key vocabulary for the unit and key concepts, which are explored with a range of manipulatives. Talk partners are a fundamental element of the sessions where discussion is encouraged and there is an expectation that all pupils will be able to share their ideas about their learning. As the unit progresses, learning will be deepened for those who are ready to move on through reasoning, application, explanation and problem-solving activities. They may also be seen as ‘experts’ supporting and modelling’ their understanding for pupils who need it. As part of the mastery approach, scaffolding and support will be offered to those pupils who need it. For example, the continuation of the use of manipulatives or sentence stems. Most pupils with SEND will access the maths curriculum with their peers.
When introducing a new times table fact, a 2-week approach is taken. Initially counting forwards and backwards along a counting stick and seeing the relationship between the multiples. Once the majority are confident with this, the facts are displayed as a mountain, with safe zones created as their ‘go-to’ facts. Multiplication and division are taught simultaneously at this time. When pupils are confident and able to explain their strategies, speed is developed with ‘practise’ sessions and other facts are linked with scaling up and scaling down questions for those who are able. ‘Times Table Rockstars’ is also being used to allow pupils to practise their fluency in school and at home.
Number bonds are a key focus throughout the school. All pupils from EYFS to Year 6 have half-termly targets to work on. We know that for a proportion of our pupils, there are gaps in their number foundations and therefore struggle to see links to new learning. For example, adding 3 multiples of a hundred is difficult if you are not able to fluently add 3 single digit numbers. Number Talks (Sherry Parrish) have been introduced across the whole school and are continuing to be developed. This allows our pupils to be flexible thinkers and expert communicators as well as building computation skills and reinforcing number sense. The pupils are expected to talk about the range of strategies rather than seeing just one answer.
To find out more about our curriculum please contact the school office.