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. The national curriculum for mathematics aims to ensure that all pupils:
become fluent in the fundamentals of mathematics, including through varied and frequent practice with increasingly complex problems over time, so that pupils 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
can 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.
Mathematics is an interconnected subject in which pupils need to be able to move fluently between representations of mathematical ideas. The programmes of study are, by necessity, organised into apparently distinct domains, but pupils at Westacre will aim to make rich connections across mathematical ideas to develop fluency, mathematical reasoning and competence in solving increasingly sophisticated problems. They should also apply their mathematical knowledge to science and other subjects.
The expectation is that the majority of pupils will move through the programmes of study at broadly the same pace. However, decisions about when to progress should always be based on the security of pupils’ understanding and their readiness to progress to the next stage. Pupils who grasp concepts rapidly are challenged through being offered rich and sophisticated Deep problems before any acceleration through new content. Those who are not sufficiently fluent with earlier material should consolidate their understanding, including through additional practice, before moving on.
At Westacre, children study mathematics daily, covering a broad and balanced mathematical curriculum including elements of number, calculation, geometry, measures and statistics.
Each year group has three distinctive types of Maths lessons: Arithmetic, Using and Applying and regular Curriculum lessons. In Arithmetic lessons, children focus solely on fluency skills, learning and practising mathematical procedures. In Using and Applying lessons, children are expected to apply skills learned in the rest of the week to contextualised questions or deeper maths investigations, and they are encouraged to theorise and pursue their own lines of enquiry, while demonstrating the ability to work systematically. In the remaining curriculum lessons, children learn the new content appropriate to their age band, demonstrating their understanding through a mix of fluency, problem solving and reasoning questions.
At Westacre, a high priority is placed on children being provided with regular opportunities to practice and enhance their retrieval skills. This takes the form of ‘Can We Still…’ starter activities, which aim to test recall of previous maths topics children may not have practiced in a few weeks or months. Each year group tailors this retrieval activity to suit the particular needs of each year group or class.
When children first arrive at Westacre in Year 5, they are taught maths in their base classes by their base teacher for the first term. Following this and continuing on into Years 6 and 7, summative assessment is used to divide the children into a Challenge set, four Parallel sets and a Support set. This allows the most able mathematicians to be challenged to a deeper level, while those who find mathematics more difficult are supported in a much smaller and focused learning environment, with a clear focus on strong personal progress, regardless of starting point.
Due to the interconnected nature of mathematics, at Westacre we aim to teach maths in a cross curricular manner as well as discretely to teach the practical application of mathematical skills. We focus not only on the mathematical methods but also focus on mathematical vocabulary and to use Maths Mastery to broaden and deepen mathematical understanding. We use a range of textbooks and online resources throughout the school to design a bespoke and challenging curriculum that is specific to each child’s learning needs.
Throughout each lesson formative assessment takes place and feedback is given to the children through marking and next step tasks to ensure they are meeting the specific learning objective. Teachers then use this assessment to influence their planning and ensure they are providing a mathematics curriculum that will allow each child to progress. The teaching of maths is also monitored on a termly basis through book scrutinies, learning walks and lesson observations. Each term children from each year complete a summative assessment to help them to develop their testing approach and demonstrate their understanding of the topics covered. Years 5 and 7 use Rising Stars NTS tests, while Year 6 use pasts SATS papers and are tested half-termly rather than termly. The results from both the formative assessment and summative assessment is then used to determine children’s progress and attainment.
Teachers also make use of Classroom Monitor, an online assessment system that allows detailed tracking of each child’s progress against individual objectives. This is used to inform the areas of focus for Rapid Response interventions, classroom seating plans and topics for revision through use of Can We Still.. starters.