Mathematics at Sir John Heron
The aims of the mathematics curriculum
“Together We Learn. Together We Achieve” is embedded into all elements of school life and learning at Sir John Heron Primary including in the mathematics curriculum and lessons. Mathematics is an important part of the school’s broad and balanced curriculum. We believe it is important that all children have access to a coherently sequenced mathematics curriculum which is relevant to their needs and interests and equips children with the necessary knowledge and skills needed to succeed in their next stage of education and prepares them for life in modern 21st century Britain.
As part of this, mathematics plays an important role in working towards the school’s curriculum aims which are ensuring children master a range of knowledge and skills, provides vocabulary rich learning, encourages children to become healthy and active citizens and provides enrichment opportunities and cultural capital development while also supporting the development of key skills needed for successful learning such as resilience and risk taking.
We believe mathematics is a cross curricular and interconnected subject which is grasped through practise and discussion of mathematics. As much revolves around the discussion about mathematics between talk partners as it does the completion of calculations. We believe being able to communicate and use mathematics through the strong use of vocabulary can lead to a love of mathematics and further learning opportunities. Children are given the tools to master the basic skills in order to use mathematics purposefully so they can apply their skills to everyday life. To that end, a high-quality, inter-related and creative experience should be one that develops the children’s ability to think mathematically and one which allows them to apply the tools to which they have been exposed in a variety of ways.
How mathematics is taught at Sir John Heron Primary
In EYFS, Key Stage 1 (KS1) and 2 (KS2), teaching follows the National Curriculum and uses White Rose Mathematics and is supplemented by NCETM and NRICH materials. A curriculum map covers the blocks to be taught, with a focus on mastering the basic skills and as a result these may be spaced in order to revisit key areas. Lessons are carefully timetabled to occur each day, generally during the morning sessions, with additional basic skills sessions to respond to further consolidate learning, address misconceptions found and deeply embed basic skill strategies.
From this, Medium Term Plans have been created and adapted to support staff with exemplification for maths objectives and are broken down into fluency, reasoning and problem solving, key aims of the National Curriculum and identify resources and appropriate scaffolding. They support a mastery approach to teaching and learning and have number at their heart. They ensure teachers stay in the required key stage and support the ideal of depth before breadth. They support pupils working together as a whole group and provide plenty of time to build reasoning and problem solving elements into the curriculum. Reasoning and problem solving sessions are also focussed upon during Friday sessions which enable children to practise using a range of problem solving skills as well as developing their oracy skills when discussing how to tackle such problems.
Lessons begin with a flashback four which focus on fluency within the starters to develop the basic skills and recap prior knowledge which may be required for the lesson concept to be taught or as a way of spaced revision as a strategy to support long term memory formation. Subject matter in lessons is presented in a clear fashion with teachers using I do, we do, you do approach to demonstrate the small steps required for each subject. This is used in order to model thinking strategies to children by the teacher narrating their thought process while working through a calculation. Key vocabulary is modelled and is expected to be used throughout lessons and can be seen through the use of sentence stems in order to scaffold for children when vocalising their mathematical explanations. New or frequently used vocabulary linked to each specific strand is placed on display on working walls and teachers check understanding by asking for those words to be used in a sentence.
There is regular interchange between concrete/contextual ideas and their abstract/symbolic representation for children to develop a deep and sustainable understanding of mathematics. Children are encouraged to use whatever resources are available to them in the classroom and which they feel would be beneficial to help them when completing mathematical work.
Discussion is at the heart of learning within mathematics with children using their talk partners to provide opportunities to increase their understanding and explaining mathematics or to address misconceptions. The reasoning behind mathematical processes is emphasised. Teacher/pupil interaction explores how answers were obtained as well as why the method worked and what might be the most efficient strategy, building on one of the key school values of reasoning.
A key component within lessons is to demonstrate how mistakes are valuable and they are acceptable to make in lessons. Teachers will draw out learning points from mistakes and misconceptions in order to further deepen understanding of concepts. This is supported through a range of questions used, both open and closed, with an expectation that all students are to answer in one form or another. Furthermore children are encouraged to ask questions, proving and justifying their approaches used and developing connections.
Conceptual variation and procedural variation are used extensively throughout teaching. This helps to present mathematics in ways that promote deep, sustainable learning. Conceptual variation is where the concept is varied and there is intelligent practice. Positive variation is showing what the concept is, and negative variation is showing what the concept isn’t. This clears away misconceptions at the very start. Within positive variation, both standard and non-standard representations are shown. Procedural variation is where different procedures and/or representations are used to bring about understanding. For example, teachers may collect several solutions for a problem (some right, some wrong) before guiding the class towards the most efficient method. It also involves highlighting the essential features of a concept or idea through varying the non-essential features.
Handy hints are given to further scaffold learning for children, be it through the concept being broken down into clear steps or use of a sentence stem to remind children of the process at hand or suggestions for the use of manipulatives to reinforce and deepen understanding. Challenges are shown through the use of targeted questioning of children, as well as yellow box questions within flip charts and books which are used to deepen understanding of key concepts.
Links to SMSC, British Values and cross curricular links are identified within the first page of planning and shared with children during appropriate times in lessons. Key skills are used across subjects in order to demonstrate the importance of mathematical skills across the curriculum and how they can be used in a cross curricular fashion. This is supported by real world problems being posed to children and building problem solving techniques and strategies, of which children will need to use in order to face challenges in the real world.
Assessment of mathematics
Formative assessment techniques are used regularly in lessons to continuously check children’s mathematical understanding and progress towards their end-of-year outcomes. Mathematics is assessed through listening to children talk about their understanding, asking a variety of open ended questions, jotting connections made and strategies used. From this, children are given instant developmental verbal feedback to help consolidate or move learning forward. Work is marked against success criteria, in line with the school marking policy. Children are encouraged and given opportunities to self-assess and peer assess work as well as to make corrections or improvements.
The information gathered is then used to inform teaching, where teachers can plan subsequent lessons if needed to further consolidate learning, address misconceptions found and next steps. Sufficient time is spent on key concepts to ensure learning is well developed and deeply embedded before moving on.
White Rose End of Block assessments and Rising Stars Progress in Understanding Mathematics Assessment (PUMA tests) are used to monitor children’s knowledge and understanding of concepts taught in all year groups from 1 – 6 to aid teachers with their judgements.
On SIMs, at the end of each term, children are given a teacher assessment judgement which comprises work in class, end of block assessments, PUMA tests, observations and work in books over a sequence of lessons. Children are assessed as emerging, developing, secure or mastery dependent on the stage they are working at related to age-related expectations. The assessments are used to identify trends (e.g. with groups of children, year groups), strength and possible areas of development. The information is also used to inform curriculum reviews which take place regularly. Progress is discussed at termly ‘Pupil Progress Meetings’ and focus children are indicated.