Our Position Statement for Mathematics:
In line with the purpose of the National Curriculum, our aim is to equip all our pupils with a high-quality mathematics education that provides them with a foundation for understanding the world, the ability to reason mathematically and an appreciation of the beauty and power of mathematics. We ‘take care of each other’ by nurturing pupils confidence, being supportive and fostering a sense of curiosity about the subject. Children are encouraged to see the mathematics that surrounds them every day and ‘aim high’ to enjoy developing vital life skills, as well as being ‘resilient’ to keep going when they are stuck.
What is Mastery?
Mastering maths means pupils acquiring a deep, long-term, secure and adaptable understanding of the subject. The phrase ‘teaching for mastery’ describes the elements of classroom practice and school organisation that combine to give pupils the best chances of mastering mathematical concepts.
Achieving mastery means acquiring a solid enough understanding of the mathematics that has been taught to enable pupils to move on to more advanced material. The emphasis is on understanding the mathematical concepts rather than memorising lots of procedures which could be easily forgotten over time.
Mastery in Practice
Over the past few years Halwill Community Primary School has introduced some of the principles of mastery that have improved the teaching and learning of mathematics and overall attainment of the pupils. As a consequence the lessons may look different to how they were planned some years ago. To outsiders it may appear that the pace of the lesson is slower, but progress and understanding is enhanced. Each lesson focus is on one key conceptual idea and connections are made across mathematical topics.
To develop pupils’ reasoning and deeper understanding problems are usually set in real life contexts. Carefully chosen representations (manipulatives and images) are used for the children to explore concepts and understand them in more depth. These representations may appear in books as children show their understanding, rather than answers to a series of calculations. For example, the use of practical (Concrete) resources may be photographed, Pictorial representations may be drawn (such as Base 10) and their numerical recording (Abstract); known as (the CPA approach).
We have introduced a new mathematics planning resource, recommended by the Department for Education, which provides a structure for our lesson design that focuses on supporting children’s understanding of core concepts and building their mathematical confidence. Originally, this was trialled in Class 2 with Years 1 and 2, and was so successful that the resources are now available to all year groups.
Each lesson is divided into evidence-based sections that take children on a journey through discovery, sharing of ideas, scaffolded practice, independent practice and reflection.
Step by step approach
Pupils are taken on a coherent journey through the mathematics (these steps may appear small, especially at the beginning of a lesson, there are points when suddenly a jump appears to have been made, or an extra challenge appears – this is normal).
Teachers will probe pupil understanding throughout and responses are expected in full sentences, using precise mathematical vocabulary. A variety of questions are used, but you will hear the same ones being repeated; How do you know? Can you prove it? Are you sure? Is that right? ‘What’s the value? What’s the same/different about? Can you explain that? What does your partner think? Can you imagine? Questions are also used to challenge children who have grasped the concept. Children are expected to listen to each other’s responses and may be asked to explain someone else’s ideas in their own words, or if they agree/disagree. Sharing a range of responses is invaluable, allowing children to see alternative ways of tackling the problem or calculation; deepening their understanding further.
Tricky bits’ are identified during the planning process and children will be supported through these. Teachers consider what scaffolding may be required for children who may struggle to grasp concepts in the lesson and suitable challenge questions are available for those pupils who may grasp the concepts rapidly, providing them with the opportunity to ‘dive deeper’. You will be able to identify these in their books by looking for:
SEND pupils may be supported by additional adults, different resources and/or differentiated activities. They may also complete activities outside of the mathematics lesson.
Rapid intervention (same day catch up)
New learning is built upon previous understanding, so in order for learning to progress and to keep the class together, pupils need to be supported to keep up and areas of difficulty must be dealt with as and when they occur. We do this through same day interventions. In addition, we still run intervention sessions outside of the maths lesson for some targeted children.
Marking policy for mathematics acknowledges the different style of teaching and follows the NCETM guidelines published April 2016. The policy requires that learning is ticked and a comment is only made if/when a teacher feels this is necessary to move learning forward. Highlighting in ‘pink’ identifies where the teacher is ‘pleased’ and the learning objective achieved. ‘Green’ highlighter identifies to the pupil that there is the opportunity for ‘growth’ in this area. However, the most valuable feedback for pupils is given during a lesson. Children are also given opportunities to self and/or peer assessment.
Due to the episodic style of the lessons with frequent questioning, lessons may appear to move slower than in the past. There will be more talking and less recording in books. However, some evidence of pupil’s verbal responses that demonstrate understanding are scribed on to ‘speech bubble’ post-it notes using red pen to denote their ‘voice’. The recording that does take place however shows greater depth of understanding and intelligent practice. We do not want children to attempt independent recording until we believe they are secure with the concept. We do not want them to practise errors, therefore teachers may decide to have a guided group working with them in a lesson (the TA may circulate).