At Puss Bank, the intent of our curriculum is to make maths make sense to all learners through the use of a Concrete, Pictorial, Abstract (CPA) approach to learning. Through collaborative, problem solving, children embed secure number sense that can be applied fluently across a range of contexts and situations, including in real-life. Our approach is based on research evidence from the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) recommendations for Improving Mathematics.
Maths teaching at Puss Bank school, follows a mastery approach that means that teaching progresses through concepts when the majority of children have understood a mathematical idea to depth as demonstrated by the children’s independent work. Children struggling with a mathematical concept are supported through timely intervention that enables the majority of children to progress through the curriculum at the same pace.
To provide appropriate challenge for all, children work collaboratively, in mixed ability groupings to discuss and solve problems. This provides opportunities for children’s thinking to be challenged, for children to make explanations and reason about a problem. Through skilful questioning from the teacher, children can look at a problem in a different way, thus deepening their knowledge of mathematical procedures or concepts.
Some children will be given the opportunity to develop their knowledge of the mathematical concepts to greater depth, by solving problems with a greater level of complexity, for example: -
• Greater complexity of reasoning than that expected from all children
• A greater number of steps which make the question more complex (as opposed to simple steps of the same type)
• A conflation of two or more aspects of maths
Models and images are used effectively to support all children in their understanding of mathematical concepts from the concrete to the abstract. Through this approach, all children gain a depth of understanding of mathematical concepts that can be applied in new and varied situations including geometry and measure.
Through the use of a clear progression in models and images and by fostering a culture where mistakes are used by all as a learning tool, we ensure that there is a positive culture around Mathematics. Many of our parents, openly discuss their fear and lack of understanding about Maths and this anxiety can affect our children’s attitude to Maths. We provide opportunities for parents to develop their understanding of teaching and learning in mathematics, through ‘Learn with me’ sessions in every year group, parent workshops and information on our website.
It is important that our staff are skilled in Mathematics subject knowledge and pedagogy, also high-lighted in the EEF recommendations for improving mathematics. We use the National Centre for Excellent Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM) Spine Materials and Early Years materials to support teachers understanding of the pedagogy, likely misconceptions and progression through small steps in a concept.
Across the school, year group teachers plan collaboratively using S Planning to identify a progression of small steps of learning. Individual teachers then assess whether children need more time studying a concept or if the vast majority of children have understood the concept to depth and are ready to progress to the next small step.
Independent practice is an essential part of learning but is not a substitute for explicit and systematic instruction and guided practice. We incorporate independent work after children begin to demonstrate mastery of the new skills or concept, providing an opportunity for them to demonstrate their ability to complete a task without (direct) teacher guidance. We aim for the children to spend the majority of lesson time engaging in active learning with a short independent activity. Independent work is needed to embed procedural fluency as well as being used for teacher assessment.
Questions, tasks and activities are carefully designed to closely match the small step of learning. The small step is introduced through a problem that elicits the key concept. Teaching explores looking at a problem in different ways ensuring that children have a deep knowledge of a mathematical concept and don’t just understand it to the most basic level. Questioning will often be done verbally and through discussion in groups and as a class but it is also done through our ‘spins’ during independent work. We are focusing on dialogic teaching which aims to get children reasoning, discussing, arguing and explaining in order to develop their higher order thinking and articulacy. Answers provoke further questions and become the building blocks of dialogue rather than simply providing an answer. This is a great way to deepen children’s knowledge of a mathematical procedure or concept. Independent tasks are progressive in their complexity and provide procedural and conceptual variation allowing teachers to assess the depth of children’s understanding.