The Curriculum: Maths

Mathematics forms a key part of children’s learning at primary school: it introduces them to ideas, skills and ways of thinking that are crucial in everyday life and supports their learning across the curriculum. Through their learning of maths, children develop their understanding of the numbers, patterns and shapes they see in the world around them, learn ways of handling data in an increasingly digital world. Mathematics makes an essential contribution to children’s development as successful learners.

Children solve mathematical problems with enthusiasm, especially when those problems lead them to an unexpected discovery or new connections. As they become more confident, they look for patterns, use logical reasoning, suggest solutions and try out different approaches.

Mathematics provides children a powerful way of communicating – they learn to explore and explain their ideas using objects, pictures, diagrams and symbols as well as spoken and written language.

Through their learning across the curriculum, children learn how mathematics has developed over time and how it contributes to our economy, society and culture.

Learning in mathematics inspires curiosity, nurtures creativity and provides children with the skills they need for the next steps in their learning as well as life beyond school.

Derek Haylock with Ralph Manning, (2019), ‘Mathematics Explained For Primary Teachers’, Sage Publications Limited

At The Mead Academy Trust, we use the ‘mastery approach’ to teach maths. This involves ensuring that:

  • Learning is achievable for all – we have high expectations and encourage a positive ‘can do’ mindset towards maths in all pupils, creating learning experiences which develop children’s resilience in the face of a challenge and carefully scaffolding learning so everyone can make progress
  • Learning is deep and sustainable – lessons are designed with careful small steps, questions and tasks in place to ensure the learning is not superficial
  • Learning builds on previous learning – pupils’ learning of concepts is seen a continuum across the school
  • Children learn to reason about a concept and make connections – pupils are encouraged to make connections and spot patterns between different concepts (E.g. the link between ratio, division and fractions) and use precise mathematical language, which frees up working memory and deepens conceptual understanding
  • Children develop ‘conceptual’ and ‘procedural’ fluency – teachers move maths from one context to another (using objects, pictorial representations, equations and word problems). There are high expectations for pupils to learn times tables, key number facts (so they are automatic) and have a true sense of number
  • Problem solving is central – this develops pupils’ understanding of why something works so that they truly have an appreciation of what they are doing rather than just learning to repeat routines without grasping what is happening
  • There is challenge through greater depth – rather than accelerated content, (moving onto next year’s concepts) teachers set tasks to deepen knowledge and improve reasoning skills within the objectives of their year group

The ‘Maths No Problem!’ approach is at the heart of our maths curriculum. Teaching is based upon a series of textbooks and workbooks written to meet the requirements of the 2014 English National Curriculum. ‘The Maths – No Problem!’ Primary Series was assessed by the Department for Education’s expert panel, which judged that it met the core criteria for a high quality textbook to support teaching for mastery. As a result, the ‘Maths No Problem!’ Primary Series are recommended textbooks for schools.

The Maths – No Problem! textbooks are skilfully designed by expert authors. They contain carefully varied questions and examples which:

  • Are easy for pupils to access while still containing challenging components;
  • Encourage pupils to think about maths;
  • Deepen pupils’ understanding
  • Reveal misconceptions to be quickly addressed

The scheme has the concrete-pictorial-abstract (CPA) method at its heart which encourages children to use and discover through the use of equipment (concrete – such as cubes or tens and ones blocks), then they progress to representing this in picture form (pictorial) and finally moving on to the final stage which uses equations and mathematical symbols (abstract). The CPA approach allows all children to access maths and deepens their understanding of key topics, enabling them to make crucial links between topics and develop their mathematical thinking, ability and confidence.

Mathematicians aren’t people who find Maths easy. They are people who enjoy the challenge.

Matt Parker

Intent, Implementation, Impact

Find out more about our approach to the intent, implementation, and impact of teaching Maths