At Springfield we believe in the power of maths to change our children’s lives. Being a confident mathematician enables children to solve real-life problems. We are committed to equipping our pupils with the necessary knowledge and understanding to be good time-keepers, savvy shoppers and discerning citizens who question the figures put before them. As teachers who are passionate about maths, we want our children to know that the maths they learn inside and outside of the classroom has the potential unlock doors in their futures as scientists, engineers and designers. We also believe that, like a love of literature, a love of maths – its patterns and its power – is a fundamental right for all children.
How we teach maths
At Springfield, we follow a mastery approach to teaching Maths, meaning that we believe that all children can be successful mathematicians. Like all other subjects, maths is taught in mixed attainment groups so that all children contribute to and benefit from class discussions and receive both the support and challenge that they need.
Teachers use the PA maths programme to build progression from year to year. One way that children are supported to master the maths curriculum is through exposure to concrete, pictorial and abstract representations of maths. All children use manipulatives like diennes, Numicon and place value counters to gain a deep understanding of the value of numbers, whilst learning how to represent them pictorially and calculate with them in more abstract ways.
We also use the Power Maths programme to plan engaging and interactive lessons rich in pupil talk and collaborative problem solving. Children see maths in real contexts on a daily basis and have the chance to work with their partner in each lesson, before consolidating their understanding with independent practice.
The National Curriculum sets out three areas of maths for children to master:
- Problem solving
All lessons involve a focus on being fluent mathematicians. Having key learning like bonds to 10 and times tables at their finger tips helps our children to work efficiently. Where less thinking time has to be given to calculating these basics, pupils are more able to reason and solve problems. Fluency practice is varied and engaging. Children may ‘beat the timer’ to recall key facts or use mini-white boards to complete a quick-fire round.
Alongside learning key number facts, children learn to reason about their maths. This involves partner talk and having to justify answers using mathematical vocabulary. Being able to say why an answer or method is correct or incorrect shows mastery of an area of maths. It also enables children to better notice and self-correct when they are not on track. Reasoning also involves pattern spotting and looking for rules and connections. Children are encouraged to look for patterns and links and wonder why. Questions and conjectures are celebrated and explored together to work towards a shared understanding.
Problem solving is an element in all units of maths. Children are given opportunities to apply calculation strategies to real-life problems. Discussion is a key element of problem solving; tackling a problem in different ways is celebrated. Children learn to think creatively and know that there is no ‘one correct way’ to represent or solve a problem. As mathematicians they must draw on all of their knowledge and skills to decide how best to get started and what to do if their first try does not work. Through problem solving children therefore develop flexible thinking and resilience: the problems are not supposed to feel easy to solve but they certainly feel satisfying when a solution is finally reached.
Ongoing assessment for learning
Assessment is woven into maths lessons so that teachers have a clear idea of what has been mastered and what each child’s next steps are. Planning is responsive – teachers plan to meet children’s gaps on a daily, weekly and termly basis. Children may complete a ‘Beat it’ to assess their fluency in a key skill (for example to be able to multiply and divide by 10). This will take no longer than 5 minutes and children are often able to self-assess to get instant feedback. ‘Check its’ are used to revisit learning from previous weeks or terms to ensure that it has ‘stuck’. ‘Test its’ are used at the end of a unit to assess for mastery of a skill. All assessment is low-stakes and takes place as a normal part of the maths lesson routine. Children have access to any equipment that may help them to be successful and are encouraged to self-select what they need. In this way, pupils are taught to be reflective and are involved in seeing their progress and their next steps.
How to help your child at home
Seeing maths as part of every day life is a great way for children to see the relevance of their maths lessons. Some key ways to support your child are listed below:
Encouraging your child to learn to tell the time (on both digital and analogue clocks) provides them with an invaluable life skill. Discussing journey details and looking at bus and train timetables helps children to see the value of good time-keeping. Which train must they catch to be on time.
With the increase in contactless payment devices, our children are handling less and less real money. Knowing the values of coins and how much change they should expect when paying with cash will empower your child to feel confident budgeting and spending money. Estimating how much several items will cost by rounding their values will help children to stay in budget. If I only have £5.00 I can only buy five 99p lollies as 99p is nearly £1.00.
Cooking and baking is a hugely enjoyable way to get children confident estimating mass and volume. Feeling the mass of flour in a bag will give children a sense of what a kilogram means and make a connection between 500g and 0.5kg being half of this amount. Reading the volume of milk from a jug will help children to read scales. Mixing ingredients together is the beginning of understanding ratio and proportion in Upper KS2: if I need 200g of flour for 4 cupcakes, then I will need 400g for 8 cupcakes as both amounts have been doubled.
Shape, patterns and designs (geometry)
Shapes surround us and sometimes we don’t even notice. Spotting squares, triangles, rectangles and other polygons in real life can help to strengthen your child’s ability to identify shapes. Counting or calculating how many tiles are on a bathroom wall shows them how area is applied to real life. Measuring their own height in metres and centimetres and comparing it with your height will have them calculating the difference in a meaningful and motivating context: only 1.5m until I’m your height mum!
Underlying a real love of maths is a confidence in calculating fluently. When children are freed up by knowing their times tables or number bonds, they can spend more time spotting patterns and exploring. Some key areas of number fluency are:
- knowing one more and one less than a number
knowing times tables to 12×12 (by the end of Y4) including related facts e.g.
- 4×6=24 6×4=24 24÷6=4 24÷4 =6
- knowing number bonds to 10 (0-10, 1-9, 2-8, 3-7, 4-6, 5-5)
- knowing time conversions: 1h = 60 minutes, ½ hour = 30 minutes, ¼ hour = 15 minutes, ¾ hour = 45 mins, 1 year = 365 days, 1 year = 12 months, 1 day = 24 hours, 1 hour = 60 minutes, 1 minute = 60 seconds
- knowing measure conversions: 1kg = 1000g, 1l = 1000ml, 1m = 100cm, 1cm = 10mm
- knowing equivalence in key fractions, decimals and percentages e.g. ½ = 0.5 = 50%, ¼ = 0.25 = 25%
Helping your child – year group links
To see how you can help too, please use the following links:
The Primary National Curriculum for Mathematics