Mathematics is a subject that has developed over thousands of years, providing the solution to some of history’s hardest 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.
Pupils aim to make rich connections across mathematical ideas to develop fluency, mathematical reasoning problem solving. They should also apply their mathematical knowledge to Science and other subjects.
The expectation is that most pupils will move through the curriculum 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 rich and sophisticated Deep problems before moving on to new content.
Those who are struggling with fluency should reinforce their understanding, including through additional practice, before moving on.
At Westacre, children study elements of number, calculation, geometry, measures and statistics.
Each year group has three distinctive types of Maths lessons: Arithmetic, Friday Maths Explorers and regular Curriculum lessons.
In Arithmetic lessons, children focus solely on fluency skills where they learn and practise mathematical procedures.
In Friday Maths Explorers lessons, children are expected to apply skills learned in the rest of the week to deeper maths investigations, and they are encouraged to pursue their own lines of enquiry, while demonstrating the ability to work systematically. These lessons are fortnightly for Year 7 and monthly for Year 5 and 6.
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 remember knowledge they have previously learned. 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 class teacher for the first term. Following this and continuing on into Years 6 and 7, assessment is used to divide the children into a Challenge set, four Parallel sets and a Support set. This allows the high-attaining 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.
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.
During a maths lesson at Westacre, children might be taught as a whole class, or they might be broken up into smaller focus groups, each working at a slightly different level. All children would ideally aim to develop their basic maths skills and apply them to different problems and real life situations. They access a variety of different concrete resources to support their learning, and each classroom has several maths toolkits which children are encouraged to dip into whenever they feel it would be beneficial.
No matter their level of attainment, all children are expected to develop their verbal reasoning skills. This means they should be able to discuss the maths they are working on with a partner or as part of a group, use correct mathematical terminology an ask questions about patterns or problems that they spot in the mathematics. They might use some of the reasoning sentence starters shown below:
All classrooms at Westacre have a blackboard dedicated to the teaching and display of Maths. While a teacher may use this to teach at or display key concepts/ vocabulary as a reminder, children are also encouraged to use the blackboard individually or in groups to solve problems and share ideas.
Throughout each lesson 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 assessments to help them 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 assessed half-termly rather than termly. These results are 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. It is also used to adapt lesson planning where appropriate.