Teachers’ pedagogical knowledge of Maths is of a high standard in St John XXIII Catholic Primary School. Teachers strive for consistent levels of attainment in maths across the school. Teachers use their knowledge of content from previous year groups to build on the skills necessary to succeed in Maths. Teachers and TAs have solid knowledge and understanding of mathematics concepts, and use this in order to ensure that the children receive high quality instruction and support.
The maths curriculum, implemented through the White Rose Maths scheme of learning, is designed and delivered so that children can transfer key knowledge and build on what they have already learned from previous year groups. Teachers understand the importance of connecting new knowledge and existing knowledge. In keeping with the school mission statement of striving for excellence, it is the intent that all children can achieve and be successful in mathematics. In St John XXIII, we endeavour to develop fluency, reasoning and problem-solving skills in mathematics. This is facilitated through the use of the concrete, pictorial, abstract (CPA) approach and small steps towards mastery that is encouraged through White Rose Maths. This ensures coherency and consistency throughout Years 1-6. We enrich the curriculum by inviting visitors into the school and also arranging numerous external visits.
Individual Education Plans are devised, where appropriate, to ensure the curriculum is adapted to meet the specific needs of learners. The school will go to any length to meet the needs of individual pupils. Themed weeks e.g. Maths Week, Barvember, Number Day are designed to promote skills and excitement towards learning, as well as encouraging cross-curricular learning.
Maths is a core subject at St John XXIII and this is reflected in the time dedicated to teaching it each day. Each class (Y1 – Y6) has an hour long maths lesson each day which focuses on teaching children to master a carefully structured ‘small step’ in our maths curriculum.
Each lesson uses a range of varied fluency and reasoning stem sentences to allow teachers to assess thoroughly whether children have mastered the small step.
Children are also exposed to a range of carefully selected challenges to allow for children to access problem solving at a level that stretches them but also allows all children to have access to greater depth standard questioning. These challenges are taken from a range of high quality sources, altered for class, open ended, low ceiling-high threshold style challenges which teachers select specifically.
As a mastery curriculum prescribes, children spend longer on topics to help gain deeper understanding, making connections, keeping the class working together on the same topic and a fundamental belief that, through effort, all pupils are capable of understanding, doing and improving at mathematics. It is also recognised that just spending a longer period of time on a topic doesn’t mean that all pupils will ‘master’ it the first time they see it, and that they need to see it again and again in different contexts and in different years to help them truly develop their understanding on their journey to mastery, so there is also the revisiting and reinforcing features of spiral curricula too.
Number and the four operations is given more weight across the school year and other more isolated strands are positioned carefully throughout the year For example, it doesn’t really matter whether angles is taught before statistics or the other way round, so for these more ‘stand-alone’ topics (they all have some dependency, e.g. on number, if not on each other) we try to organise these to give as varied a curriculum as possible. We also try to avoid one topic always being at the end of Summer term, or similar, to minimise the chance of something not being covered.
As well as highly structured maths curriculum, in order to limit the gap between intent and impact, there are continuous opportunities for children to use and improve their maths skills outside of lessons. Maths is used across the curriculum and is the focus of several whole school events per year.
White Rose Maths
To facilitate a mastery approach to Maths, we follow the White Rose Maths scheme. Multiple representations for all! Objects, pictures, words, numbers and symbols are everywhere. The mastery approach incorporates all of these to help children explore and demonstrate mathematical ideas, enrich their learning experience and deepen understanding. Together, these elements help cement knowledge so pupils truly understand what they’ve learnt. All pupils, when introduced to a key new concept, should have the opportunity to build competency in this topic by taking this approach. Pupils are encouraged to physically represent mathematical concepts. Objects and pictures are used to demonstrate and visualise abstract ideas, alongside numbers and symbols. By following a concrete, pictorial and abstract approach, children have the opportunity to use concrete objects and manipulatives to help them understand and explain what they are doing. Through pictorial representations, children then build on this concrete approach, which can then be used to reason and solve problems. Abstract concepts follow, with the foundations firmly laid, children can move to an abstract approach using numbers and key concepts with confidence. Students are constantly exposed and immersed in developing their vocabulary acquisition. This key mathematical language, increases student’s knowledge and understanding of not only the specific matter they are currently studying, but of the world they live in.