At Cottons Farm, our aim is to equip children with the necessary skills and knowledge to prepare them for a world which requires them to use a wide range of mathematical skills on a day-to-day basis. Our Mathematics curriculum is delivered through daily Maths Meetings for 20 minutes which focus on developing secure rapid recall of key facts and skills and Maths lessons that are 50-60 minutes in length.
Since September 2016, we have been introducing and developing a mastery approach to our teaching and learning in mathematics. The mastery learning model involves spending a greater amount of time going into depth when learning concepts and procedures rather than racing through the curriculum. By taking a steadier and deeper approach we are trying to ensure that no child falls behind as well as providing deeper and richer experiences for those children who are above the national expectations for their age. Each class focuses on all children achieving what is expected for their age group rather than going beyond this. Evidence shows that children need to be taught a concept, learn to apply it in a variety of situations and then be creative with it in order to really understand it. Going beyond age group expectation does not guarantee understanding, it just shows they are able to follow a procedure/algorithm correctly. By not being extended beyond their year group expectations, our children are spending time becoming true masters of the relevant year group content ensuring that strong building blocks are in place as they move through their primary schooling.
At present our school follows the White Rose Scheme of Learning. This scheme maps out the expected learning for each year group. It provides ‘small steps’ which break down each area of learning into more manageable chunks of learning for the children as well as some resources to support in the delivery of the curriculum. Our teachers also use a range of other resources to support their planning and teaching of each concept.
What do our Mathematics Lessons look like?
At present we start our daily maths learning with Maths Meetings. These twenty minute sessions are an opportunity for children to rehearse rapid recall of key facts such as multiplication tables and practise using skills they have already learned to ensure they are fluent in them. Sometimes a range of skills will be covered to ensure children are retaining their learning. At other times the session might focus on one area of learning to further develop fluency in this area.
The Maths Lesson itself comprises of a number of key stages. At the start of the lesson children have the opportunity to use their mathematical language to recap prior learning. This language is displayed on the Working Wall in the classroom as a reminder for the children throughout the unit. The teacher will then develop new learning through demonstration and practical activities. We follow a C-P-A approach which means that we use concrete resources that the children are able to manipulate to aid their learning, followed by modelling and demonstrating using a pictorial approach, and then an abstract approach using mathematical symbols. Not all concepts lend themselves to this approach but it is used wherever possible. At this stage, children may be taking notes or trying out their maths learning on whiteboards or in their books.
Children then have the opportunity to apply their new learning in groups or independently. The have access to ‘Use it’ tasks which develop their understanding and fluency, ‘Prove it’ tasks which involve them using their reasoning skills, and ‘Solve it’ tasks which allow them to use their skills to solve problems. Children who are finding the area of learning tricky work with their teacher until they are ready to go and tackle the concept with peer support or independently. The teacher will also take the opportunity to further develop problem solving and reasoning with those children who are attaining beyond year group expectations. During independent and group tasks pupils continue to have access to the concrete/pictorial/abstract approaches to scaffold their learning.
Throughout the lesson teachers may also bring the class or parts of the class back together for ‘plenaries’ to address misconceptions or further the children’s learning as appropriate.
We develop children’s depth of mathematical understanding through encouraging communication about their understanding using the correct mathematical language. By asking them to explain, justify and prove their ideas their understanding of a concept deepens. We also provide opportunities for children to investigate questions and problems that involve them sorting, comparing, seeking patterns and looking for rules. As we take the mastery approach further forward at Cottons Farm we will develop our curriculum to give further opportunities to the children to ask questions and create their own problems to explore. This will deepen their understanding and further encourage curiosity and creativity in maths.
At Cottons Farm we have a Calculation Policy which shows how each of the four rules is taught at each year group following through the concrete/pictorial/abstract approaches. Teachers use their knowledge of the children to move them through this at an appropriate pace.
Currently we have access to two mathematical websites that children are able to use in school and at home. TT Rockstars is a web-based game which helps children to practise the multiplication tables in a number of ways. Teachers set the tables that are relevant for individual and groups and children can compete against themselves and others to improve their fluency with multiplication tables. MyMaths is an online learning platform that teachers may choose to use as part of their whole class teaching, with small groups or individuals and also for homework activities. Children are able to access this and practise skills they are currently learning or have learned previously.
Website links to develop maths understanding and skills
Key Stage 1
Key Stage 2
Mental maths boot camp (preparation for Y6 SATs) http://www.compare4kids.co.uk/mental-maths.php