The Teaching of Mathematics at Rivington Primary School
Mathematics is a creative and highly interconnected 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. Where possible our mathematics curriculum will be linked to our school values: Respect, Protect, Give Thanks, Keep Peace.
At the beginning of the academic year 2022, we began to work alongside our local Maths Hub. We are now in the second year of our journey, the 'Teaching for Mastery Developmental Phase'. The Hub is funded by the DFE and part of NCETM (National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics). The aims of the NCETM are to "raise levels of achievement in maths, and to increase appreciation of the power and wonder of maths, across the school..." The Maths Hub Programme allows us to work collaboratively with other schools and maths specialists in the Teaching for Mastery Programme.
The intention of our mathematics curriculum at Rivington Primary is for children to be excited about maths! Developing a positive attitude to this subject is essential. Teachers promote children’s enjoyment of maths and provide opportunities for children to build a conceptual understanding of maths before applying their knowledge to everyday problems and challenges. We ensure that challenge is provided for all children, whatever their understanding. Children are encouraged to be brave and push the boundaries; deepening their understanding further.
At Rivington, we follow a mastery approach to the teaching and learning of mathematics. The underpinning idea in teaching for mastery is that ALL children CAN achieve. This supports our vision and aims for maths at Rivington Primary School. Essentially, our ethos is that all children can be successful in the study of mathematics. We do not accept that ‘some children cannot do maths’ or that children should be limited by prior attainment. Maths is for everyone! We teach the skills to ensure our children are resilient learners who become life-long mathematicians. We aim to deliver an inspiring and engaging mathematics curriculum through high quality teaching.
To improve our mastery approach and improve the quality of our maths teaching, we have now adopted a scheme of work that is approved by the DfE called Power Maths. It is based upon the concrete, pictorial and symbolic (abstract) approach. Every lesson is divided into sections that involve plenty of discovery, sharing, collaboration, practice, and reflection. Children are encouraged to solve problems each day through the use of concrete resources, pictorial representations and abstract thinking.
At the heart of this programme is the idea that all children can achieve and be successful mathematicians with the right growth mindset. It promotes five child friendly characters, each with their own positive skillset, to inspire and motivate children. The Power Maths approach enables children to be numerate, creative, independent, inquisitive, enquiring, and confident. Children should not be afraid to make mistakes and should fully embrace the fact that mistakes are part of learning! A mastery curriculum promotes a deep, long-term, secure, and adaptable understanding of the subject, so that children become fluent in calculations; possess a growing confidence to reason mathematically and hone their problem-solving skills.
The only way to learn mathematics is by doing mathematics!
At Rivington, we recognise that children need to be confident and fluent across each yearly objective. To ensure consistent coverage, teachers follow the Power Maths scheme of learning to support their planning. Power Maths is an exciting and inspiring class mastery approach, which has been recommended by the Department for Education. Teachers also develop their understanding of mastery whilst working within the Maths Hub and with regular in-house CPD.
The idea that all children can be successful mathematicians with the right mind-set is based firmly at the centre of our maths curriculum. Every Power Maths lesson is divided into sections that involve plenty of discovery, sharing, thinking together, practice and reflection. High quality textbooks and practice books, approved by the DfE, as part of the national approach to teaching for mastery are used in each year group and a digital version of the Power Maths textbooks allows these to be shared with the class, during the main teaching. An interactive teaching tool for the purpose of modelling strategies is available to all teachers as part of the Power Maths scheme. Resources to support teachers’ own professional development and understanding of new approaches as part of a mastery approach are available on the Power Maths ‘Active Learn’ platform. As well as overviews of learning, these include short videos which demonstrate new methods to ensure accuracy.
Children begin with a short ‘Power Up’ activity which supports fluency in, and recall of, number facts. Following this, the main lesson begins with a ‘Discover’ and ‘Share’ task in which a contextual problem is shared for the children to discuss in partners. This helps promote discussion and ensures that mathematical ideas are introduced in a logical way to support conceptual understanding. In KS1, these problems are almost always presented with objects (concrete manipulatives) for children to use. Children may also use manipulatives in KS2. Teachers use careful questions to draw out childrens’ discussions and their reasoning and the children learn from misconceptions through whole class reasoning.
Following this, the children are presented with varied similar problems which they might discuss with a partner or within a small group. At this point, scaffolding is carefully reduced to prepare children for independent practice. This is the ‘Think together’ part of the lesson and the children might record some of their working out in their Maths Journals. The teacher uses this part of the lesson to address any initial errors and confirm the different methods and strategies that can be used. The children are then shown a ‘challenge’ which promotes a greater depth of thinking.
The class then progress to the ‘Practice’ part of the lesson, which is designed to be completed independently. This practice uses conceptual and procedural variation to build fluency and develop greater understanding of underlying mathematical concepts. A challenge question and links to other areas of maths, encourages children to take their understanding to a greater level of depth. Children who complete this are provided with further ‘rich and sophisticated’ problems from the deepening tasks.
The final part of the sequence is a ‘reflect’ task. This is an opportunity for children to review, reason and reflect on learning and enables the teacher to gauge their depth of understanding.
High quality resources are used in conjunction with Power Maths, such as NRich and NCETM to support, stretch and challenge all children within the classroom. In addition to the Maths Policy, the Power Maths Calculation Policies are used to ensure a coherent approach to teaching the operations across our school.
Journals are used in most lessons throughout the discover, think, share part of the lesson. They are used when working with partners or individually, to develop communication skills and record thought processes, therefore deepening conceptual understanding. Once children have had the opportunity to refine their thinking, they record these using diagrams/drawings, writing and abstract mathematical notation. Teachers’ expectations of journals should be high, as should independence levels.
Our curriculum is implemeted through the use of 'Core Representations', building on the concrete, pictorial, symbolic (abstract) approach. Objects and pictures are used to demonstrate and visualise abstract ideas, alongside numbers and symbols.
Throughout Rivington, you will see these methods being used:
Concrete – children have the opportunity to use concrete objects and manipulatives to help them understand and explain what they are doing.
Pictorial – children then build on this concrete approach by using these pictorial representations, which can then be used to reason and solve problems.
Symbolic (Abstract) – with the foundations firmly laid by using the concrete and pictorial methods the children can move onto an abstract approach using numbers and key concepts with confidence.
By using all three, the children can explore and demonstrate their mathematical learning. Together, these elements help to cement knowledge so children truly understand what they have learnt. All children have access to a wide range of concrete mathematical resources to help them build on their concrete understanding of mathematical concepts. Teachers also use the online interactive tool, enabling them to model pictorial and abstract concepts which children can replicate and apply to their own learning.
In Key Stages 1 and 2, we have introduced afternoon sessions of ‘Maths Chat and Connect’. This is an opportunity for children in both Key Stages to really explore number, number facts and develop their number sense and automaticity. In Key Stage 1, we follow the ‘Mastering Number Programme’ from the NW Maths Hub. This consists of a short, daily maths teaching session, to further develop understanding of mathematical concepts using a range of resources.
Children in Nursery have a short daily maths teaching session, during which time they begin to develop their understanding of simple mathematical concepts such as subitising, counting to 20, maintaining 1 to 1 correspondence, simple addition, and subtraction facts, to recognise and describe simple 2D and 3D shapes. Children are taught these concepts using physical resources, pictorial and concrete resources, songs, games and role-play.
In Reception, we also follow the Power Maths Scheme of Learning to ensure consistency throughout and are taking part in the ‘Mastering Number Programme’ from the NW Maths Hub. This consists of a daily maths teaching session, to further develop their understanding of mathematical concepts using a range of physical resources, pictorial and concrete resources, songs, games and role-play. To embed and consolidate their learning further, other resources may be used such as White Rose Maths.
In both Nursery and Reception, the independent activities in the maths area link to the focus for the week. For example, if the focus for the week is addition, then activities in the maths area will often link to this. In addition to these planned independent activities, children also have the opportunity to self-select maths resources to consolidate their learning during child-initiated activities. We recognise the importance of play-based learning and therefore encourage children to develop their understanding during their play. Such opportunities are provided in both the inside and outside environment.
Regular observations and assessments help to ensure that children that need additional intervention to consolidate their mathematical understanding are identified and supported by appropriate intervention.
The impact of a mastery session should be visible. A culture of excitement and enjoyment around maths promotes achievement, confidence and good behaviour and a place where children feel safe to try new things and make mistakes. This innovative practice across the school provides a strong foundation and opportunities for children to collaborate and develop social skills both indoors and out.
This curriculum design ensures that the needs of individual and small groups of children can be met within the environment of high quality first wave teaching, supported by targeted, proven interventions where appropriate. In this way it can be seen to impact in a very positive way on children’s outcomes.
The school has a supportive ethos, and our approach supports the children in developing their collaborative and independent skills, as well as their empathy and the need to recognise the achievement of others.
Children can underperform in mathematics because they think they can’t do it or are not naturally good at it. The Power Maths programme addresses these preconceptions by ensuring that all children experience challenge and success in mathematics by developing a growth mind set. Regular and ongoing assessment informs teaching, as well as intervention, to support and enable the success of each child. These factors ensure that we can maintain high standards, aiming for achievement at the end of KS2 to be well above national average and for a high proportion of children to demonstrate greater depth at the end of each phase.
Children have opportunities to share their learning with each other, their parents and carers and other learners through school-based activities. Developing their independence and motivation as learners and their sense of responsibility as future citizens is at the heart of all our teaching and learning in maths.
Equality and SEN Statement
At Rivington Primary School we aim to provide equality of opportunity for all children whatever their age, ability, gender, race, religion or background. We aim to create an environment that values each pupil and enables them to achieve their full potential. We provide a broad and balanced curriculum appropriately differentiated to respond to pupils’ diverse learning needs. The opportunities and experiences we provide enable our pupils to participate fully and give their best across all aspects of school life. We place great value on the quality of relationships within our school community and celebrate the achievements of all pupils. We appreciate that children may have special educational needs throughout, or at any time during their school career. At Rivington Primary School we aim to facilitate the full inclusion of pupils with special educational needs.