What is Mathematics?
Mathematics is a creative and highly interconnected discipline that has been developed over centuries, providing the solution to some of history’s most intriguing problems. It is essential to everyday life, critical to science, technology and engineering, and necessary for financial literacy and most forms of employment. A high-quality mathematics education therefore provides a foundation for understanding the world, the ability to reason mathematically, an appreciation of the beauty and power of mathematics, and a sense of enjoyment and curiosity about the subject.
(National Curriculum 2014)
The national curriculum for mathematics aims to ensure that all pupils:
- become fluent in the fundamentals of mathematics, including through varied and frequent practice with increasingly complex problems over time, so that pupils develop conceptual understanding and the ability to recall and apply knowledge rapidly and accurately
- reason mathematically by following a line of enquiry, conjecturing relationships and generalisations, and developing an argument, justification or proof using mathematical language
- can solve problems by applying their mathematics to a variety of routine and non-routine problems with increasing sophistication, including breaking down problems into a series of simpler steps and persevering in seeking solutions (National Curriculum 2014)
All children in KS1 and KS2 participate in a daily mathematics lesson. Reception and Nursery follow the foundation stage profile.
The framework for the teaching and learning of Mathematics in our school is the National Curriculum in England: mathematics programme of study. This is delivered through a range of individually designed and commercially produced resources, most significant of which are ‘Big Maths’ and ‘Little Big Maths’ for Reception, which is available to all classes, with online support. Additional resources include Rising Stars Arithmetic, to match the objectives in the New Primary Mathematics Curriculum. A bank of other essential mathematical resources is kept in each classroom as well as a central store.
We use ‘Big Maths’ to deliver core numeracy skills and outer numeracy. Once a week all children complete an arithmetic test in addition to Big Maths Beat That assessments.
Our pupils are also given regular opportunities to reason mathematically and explain their thinking as well as being challenging to show a deeper understanding of a mathematical concept through mastery.
What is Big Maths?
Big Maths is a teaching method created by Ben Harding that embraces the logical nature of maths, translating it into simple Steps and Progress Drives. This makes progress easy and fun for both children and teachers giving all pupils the opportunity to achieve.
Other strategies approach the teaching of maths in the ‘traditional way’; giving teachers broad curriculum statements with little accurate guidance on how to get pupils there. In Big Maths there is great detail built into the system that allows all teachers to experience high subject knowledge and teacher expertise, therefore getting the chronology of the maths journey right for each child.
Big Maths begins with a model of numeracy development that provides innovative and highly effective way of looking at the Primary Mathematics curriculum. It cashes in on the nature of maths, using CLIC as a chronological framework for securing basic skills and on the logical steps of progression that sit naturally in mathematical progression (Progress Drives).
Children acquire the basic skills of Mathematics through the chronology of CLIC. When we look at Core Numeracy in more detail we see that it has a 4 stage process to it;
children learn to count and to ‘count on’.
children then short-cut this counting by recalling their ‘counting on’ as facts.
It’s Nothing New
children then ‘swap the thing’ to realise that the counting fact, or ‘Learn It’, can be applied to any object, amount or unit of measure.
the previous 3 phases are combined to provide a calculation structure.
We call the rest of the mathematics curriculum ‘Outer Numeracy’. This gives us a ‘simple view’ of the primary Mathematics Curriculum. Basic skills (CLIC) need to be acquired before they are used in different contexts. When we zoom into Outer Numeracy we see four aspects but this time they are non-chronological. They are:
Real Life Maths: (think ‘word problems’) These are worded scenarios that ask children to solve problems that attempt to mimic real life. For example, ‘There are 20 pencils in a box. 50 children need 2 pencils each. How many boxes are needed?’All CLIC skills can be taken into real life context.
SAFE Maths: (think shape, measure, fractions and data) This refers to a large amount of primary mathematics curriculum content. Virtually all of SAFE Maths is underpinned by a Core Numeracy element.
Shape - 2D, 3D, Coordinates etc..
Amounts - Measures for distance, mass, angles etc.
Fractions - Fractions of amounts, percentages, ratio etc..
Explaining Data - Graphs, probability.
Multi-Methods: (think ‘Column Methods, Calculators and Cool Moves’) These refer to more efficient aspects of numeracy beyond the core. For example, one might teach children to add using near doubles, or to solve 405 – 198 by adding 2 to both numbers. This means the question is easily re-written as 407 – 200 and the gap between the two numbers becomes clearer. These methods also include Column Methods and solving calculations using a calculator.
Dangerous Maths: (think ‘number problems’) This means maths problems that take the child out of their immediate comfort zone and require more creative and analytical thinking. For example, ‘What is the highest square number under 1000?’ Dangerous Maths also includes algebra and number patterns. We just use the phrase ‘Dangerous Maths’ as teachers to remind us that children shouldn’t find this part of the maths curriculum easy.
The national curriculum for mathematics reflects the importance of spoken language in pupils’ development across the whole curriculum – cognitively, socially and linguistically. The quality and variety of language that pupils hear and speak are key factors in developing their mathematical vocabulary and presenting a mathematical justification, argument or proof. They must be assisted in making their thinking clear to themselves as well as others and teachers should ensure that pupils build secure foundations by using discussion to probe and remedy their misconceptions.
By the end of each key stage, pupils are expected to know, apply and understand the matters, skills and processes specified in the relevant programme of study.
All children are expected to complete a piece of mathematics homework weekly.
The role of the Maths Specialist
To be an excellent teacher who is able to model their teaching skills for others and lead the improvement of teaching Maths.
To have direct, positive impact on the quality of Maths teaching, learning and pupil progress across the school and, where required, in other schools or settings as directed by the Head Teacher.
To lead, manage and develop a subject across school ensuring a consistent approach to quality and standards.
To ensure that standards of pupil progress and attainment in Maths improve and that these improvements are maintained.
- To be a member of the Senior Leadership Team (SLT)
- To develop, implement and evaluate policies and practice that will underpin and drive school improvement.
- To provide practical support for teachers that enables them to improve their teaching skills resulting in positive impact on pupil progress and attainment across all subjects but specifically in the teaching of Maths.
- To keep up to date with subject knowledge.
- To ensure that their subject is in line with and covers the National Curriculum and that teaching and learning in that subject is innovative, engaging and relevant to the needs of the pupils.
Typical activities will normally include:
- Modelling aspirational teaching, team teaching, observing lessons and advising teachers how to improve the quality of their teaching;
- Scrutinising teachers’ planning, pupils’ work and marking and giving feedback for improvement;
- Leading training sessions;
- Coaching, mentoring and induction of teachers, NQTs and trainees;
- Advising on practice, research and continuing professional development opportunities;
- Advising on the use of assessment for learning and its impact on pupil progress;
- Overseeing assessment of Maths;
- Evaluating the learning environment and supporting colleagues in developing an engaging and interactive environment that promotes learning for all e.g. working walls;
- Advising teachers on the effective deployment of additional adults in the classroom for the best impact on pupil outcomes;
- Providing support to teachers who are experiencing difficulties in performance including those being supported through a managerial support programme or going through a capability process.