Wheelock Primary School is part of the Learning for Life Partnership which follows a mastery approach to mathematics, in which we teach for depth. As defined by the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM), mastering maths means pupils acquire a deep, long-term, secure and adaptable understanding of the subject. Achieving mastery means acquiring a solid enough understanding of the maths that has been taught, to enable pupils to move on to more advanced materials.
Like all areas of the curriculum, mathematics is underpinned by our core values of:
Integrity – we are honest about our mistakes: we celebrate and learn from them.
Aspiration - maths teaching for mastery rejects the idea that a large proportion of people ‘just can’t do maths’.
Courage – All pupils are encouraged by the belief that by working hard at maths they can succeed. We learn from the characters in Power Maths: Astrid (who isn’t afraid to make mistakes) and Dexter (who is determined and learns from his mistakes).
Respect – We respect everyone’s contributions and ideas in maths. We learn from the characters Flo (who is flexible, creative and comes up with new methods) and Ash (who is curious and inquisitive – he enjoys exploring new concepts).
Intent - what are we trying to achieve?
The aim of our mathematics curriculum is to build long-lasting learning through progressive acquisition of knowledge and skills. We want our pupils to become confident, competent and independent mathematicians, who are able to build a deep conceptual understand of maths and its interrelated connectiveness, so they can apply their learning in different situations. We aim to develop children’s ability to articulate, discuss and explain their thinking using appropriate mathematical vocabulary.
Our maths curriculum is achievable for all. Pupils are taught through whole-class interactive teaching, where the focus is on all pupils working together on the same lesson content at the same time. This ensures that all children can master concepts before moving to the next part of the curriculum sequence, allowing no pupil to be left behind. If a pupil fails to grasp a concept or procedure, this is identified quickly and early intervention ensures the pupil is ready to move forward with the whole class in the next lesson. Although the teaching of the concepts is the same for all, the outcomes in terms of application, may be different.
In our mathematics teaching, we aim to instil the mindset that everyone can do maths and that maths is for everyone. Mistake-friendly classrooms help children recognise the power mistakes have on our learning. Mistakes also support our pupils in developing resilience and inquisitiveness within the maths curriculum.
Implementation - how do we embed our intent?
As recognised by the NCETM, the use of a well-designed and tested textbook is important for the successful implementation of teaching for mastery. Therefore, we teach our maths curriculum, through the use of Power Maths – a government recommended, high-quality mastery textbook. Power Maths is a whole-class mastery programme designed to spark curiosity and excitement and help nurture confidence in maths.
Power Maths’ mastery approach values real understanding and richer, deeper learning above speed. It sees all children learning the same concept in small, cumulative steps, each finding and mastering challenge at their own level. Power Maths reinforces our belief that everyone can do maths. Those who grasp a concept easily have time to explore and understand that concept at a deeper level. The whole class therefore moves through the curriculum at broadly the same pace via individual learning journeys. The next lesson in a Power Maths sequence always revises and builds on the previous step to help embed learning. These activities provide golden opportunities for individual children to strengthen their learning. Same-day interventions – either within or after a lesson – are a crucial safety net for any child who has not fully made the small step covered that day. At ‘The Learning for Life Partnership’, intervention is always about keeping up, not catching up, so that every child has the skills, knowledge understanding they need to tackle the next lesson.
Structures and representations:
Unlike most other subjects, maths comprises a wide array of abstract concepts – and that is why children (and adults) often find it difficult. By taking a Concrete-Pictorial-Abstract (C-P-A) approach, Power Maths allows children to tackle concepts in a tangible and more comfortable way. The calculation policies demonstrate the C-P-A approach in more detail.
The role of talk and discussion:
We believe that when children learn to talk purposefully together about maths, barriers of fear and anxiety are broken down and they grow in confidence, skills and understanding. Building a healthy culture of ‘maths talk’ empowers their learning from day one. Explanation and discussion are integral to the Power Maths structure.
To enhance talk and discussion in our maths lessons we also:
- encourage children to respond in full sentences when reasoning, explaining or discussing maths;
- plan for children to work with others e.g. pairs, groups and whole class;
- provide clear opportunities within each lesson for pupils to think and reflect, so that their talk is purposeful, relevant and focused;
- give every child a voice by moving away from pupils putting their hands up – we don’t want one child to dominate the maths lesson!
At the heart of Power Maths is a unique lesson sequence designed to empower children to understand core concepts and grow in confidence. Embracing the NCETM’s definition of mastery, the sequence guides and shapes every Power Maths lesson we teach. While some children will need to spend longer on a particular concept (through interventions or additional lessons), others will reach deeper levels of understanding. However, the class moves forward together through the termly schedules.
- Power Up: each lesson begins with a Power Up activity, which supports fluency in the key number facts. This constant and daily practice reinforces one of Rosenshein’s strands of reviewing material: crucial for storing knowledge in long-term memory.
- Discover: this part of the lesson provides a practical, real-life problem to arouse curiosity.
- Share: this is a teacher-led element of the lesson that highlights the variety of methods that can be used to solve a single problem. This part of the session also reinforces Rosenshein’s strands: sequencing concepts and modelling.
- Think together: during this part of the session, children work to answering a question independently.
- Practice: children work interpedently, answering questions in their practice books. Sometimes, children may need more varied fluency practice before tackling the more in-depth questions or a challenge to go deeper: these are created by the teacher, using NCETM and WRM resources.
- Reflect: this part of the session is for children to show how deeply they understand the target concept.
Practice plays a pivotal role in the Power Maths approach. In Power Maths, practice never equates to the simple repetition of a process. Instead the scheme embraces the concept of intelligent practice, in which all children become fluent in maths through varied, frequent and thoughtful practice that deepens and embeds conceptual understanding in a logical, planned sequence. Therefore, our pupils are exposed to varied methods and calculations expressed in different ways (requiring thought and understanding). The Practice Books provide just the right amount of intelligent practice for children to complete independently in the final sections of each lesson.
The image below illustrates this:
What else we do:
As well as following the Power Maths scheme of learning, we subscribe to TT Rockstars. This platform provides children with the opportunity to practise key facts provides children with a platform to practise and memorise their multiplication tables. Teachers reinforce how times tables (and being able to recall them fluently) can support other learning.
When they leave each phase, learners have the knowledge, skills and vocabulary necessary to progress to the next stage of their learning. As a result of high-quality teaching, learning makes sustained progress in mathematics and develop the competence to reason and problem solve confidently and efficiently. Pupil voice shows that children enjoy maths and books will reflect the positive attitudes and resilience in mathematics.
- Children are happy learners who talk enthusiastically about their learning and eager to further their progress in maths
- The impact of ‘mastery’ and the emphasis on accurate use of mathematical language is evident during class/pupil discussions
- Children’s fluency in number is evident in our proven track record of high success in arithmetic
- More consistent teaching practices that are well-known to be more effective for pupil progress long term, evident across school
- Teacher assessment of the depth of learning is also increasingly accurate
- These factors ensure that we are able to achieve high standards, with achievement at the end of KS2 in-line with that of the national average, as well an increasing proportion of children demonstrating greater depth, at the end of each phase
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