Mathematics teaching at Elmhurst Primary School is based on the principles of Teaching for Mastery, which originally came from exchanges with teachers in Shanghai. Mastering maths means pupils of all ages acquiring a deep, long-term, secure and adaptable understanding of the subject. This is achieved using a range of pedagogical strategies, most notably small steps of learning and careful variation of representations and questions.
Research shows that children taught following a mastery approach have a much deeper and more connected understanding of mathematics and can not only carry out procedures, but understand and explain the maths underpinning them too. The approach is based on a large amount of research, some of the key articles can be found here: https://www.ncetm.org.uk/teaching-for-mastery/mastery-explained/supporting-research-evidence-and-argument/
Maths No Problem
As a school, we use the Maths No Problem scheme to deliver our curriculum. This is one of two schemes approved by the Department for Education to deliver a mastery approach, whilst covering the full National Curriculum. The teaching for mastery principles are embedded within the lessons, representations and questions. We train all new members of staff in using the scheme and provide ongoing training and support for existing teachers through CPD, team teaching and lesson visits.
The Maths No Problem scheme covers the full National Curriculum across years 1 to 6. The scheme splits the curriculum into a range of topics throughout the year and the lessons have a fixed structure which is designed to reflect the teaching for mastery pedagogy:
- In Focus: an open anchor task to start the lesson where children explore a variety of methods to solve one problem
- Let’s Learn: the selection of methods are brought together and teaching focuses on the key strategy or learning point for the lesson
- Guided Practice: questions for children to practice the strategy / key learning for the lesson with support from their peers and teacher
- Independent Practice: questions for children to answer independently in their maths books (or workbooks in KS1)
As well as learning new content, children need to become fluent and efficient in their arithmetic skills. There is daily arithmetic practice built into maths lessons, the content of which has been carefully mapped to reflect the learning from the previous year that should then become automatic.
For the 2021-22 academic year, we are going to trial a focus on retrieval of facts previously learnt as well as fast and automatic recall of number facts. We will be using a style called “Flashback four” where the lesson starts with four retrieval questions from:
- last lesson
- last topic
- last term
- last year
The intention is that this will increase retrieval and will minimise the need to re-teach content. Each week, there will be dedicated time within maths lessons to teach an arithmetic skill and then throughout the week, a selection of questions to lead towards automatic recall.
Times Table Rockstars / Numbots
By the end of year 4, children should be proficient in all of their times-tables up to 12x12. In the summer term, the children in year 4 sit the Multiplication Tables Check (MTC) to test their knowledge of times-table. To support the learning and continued practise of times-tables, we use Times Table Rockstars (TTRS). This is an online platform where children engage in a range of games to improve their speed and accuracy with times-tables.
Prior to learning their times-tables, children need to become proficient in their basic addition and subtraction skills. To support this, we use Numbots. This is linked to TTRS, but children compete this time to become faster and more efficient at their basic number bonds.
All children are encouraged to practise on the relevant game daily at home and weekly at school.
Recovery curriculum for 2021-22
Due to school closures over the last few years, a normal maths curriculum will not be delivered this academic year. A number of evaluations were carried out to establish what has been taught and what has been learnt. From this, the maths curriculum plan has changed significantly this year and a number of guiding documents have supported this.
The Department for Education, in partnership with the NCETM, released non-statutory curriculum guidance to go alongside the National Curriculum. The document has broken the curriculum down into key areas that children need to learn to be able to access the learning for the following year. The curriculum has been slightly rearranged to be more coherent across year groups and topics.
This document has been used to help plan the curriculum for Years 1 – 4 for the academic year 2021-22. In September 2022, Maths No Problem will be releasing a new text-book which will be more in line with this guidance therefore children are being prepared for some of these changes.
Years 5 and 6 will not be adopting some of these changes as it is likely that the SATs will still reflect the National Curriculum.
Some of the main changes that have been adopted are:
- increased teaching of number facts in KS1 (see Number Sense section below)
- increased linear representations (number lines) to support a stronger understanding of number
- moving of a lot of fractions objectives to be more coherent and reflect the link with multiplication and division learnt in certain year groups
- moving the teaching of decimals to follow place value rather than fractions
- integrating measures and statistics into number units rather than teaching them on their own
Number Sense Maths
Following school closures, one of the most important areas of maths that children really suffered from was their knowledge and fluency of basic number facts, especially in KS1. To address this, we have introduced the Number Sense Maths programme which is a systematic and structured approach to teaching early addition and subtraction skills. Just as early reading skills are taught with a structured phonics programme, so should early maths skills.
The programme includes stages such as adding 1, adding 0, making and breaking numbers to 10, addition and subtraction of numbers below 20 and then applying this to larger 2-digit numbers. Lessons follow a structure of some explicit teaching using an animation and also carefully designed practice questions for the children.
Some of the stages will be taught in Year 1, some in Year 2 and some will be used for revision at the start of Year 3.