Hillcrest Road, Stroud, Gloucestershire, GL5 4NL
Care and Support Helps Everyone Succeed
We have recently changed the way we teach maths, to give better emphasis on the mastery approach. This means making sure all children have the opportunity to learn, secure and really understand the age-related expectations for their year group. By changing the format of our maths lessons, we believe all children will have a better grasp of key skills as they will be given time to consolidate skills as well as doing reasoning and problem solving in every lesson. Further to this, by not pre-assigning children to differentiated tasks all children will be given the opportunity to reach the age-related expectations of the 2014 National Curriculum for maths.
Each lesson now starts with a 15 minute mental/oral session where children are taught and have time to practise basic number facts and skills. This will be a mixture of new learning from the year group's National Curriculum objectives and consolidation and practising of previously taught areas to ensure children are confident with the basic skills and concepts needed throughout their maths learning. Tasks will be differentiated based on children's individual skills and their necessary next steps.
The main part of each lesson then begins with a 10 minute, whole class, input in which the teacher leads the children to look at one key concept. Children are sat with a 'maths partner' who they are encouraged to discuss their thoughts with and have free access to resources such as Numicon, Diennes, counters and whiteboards. Throughout this time, children will be guided by both the teacher and teaching assistants in using these to understand the concept. We know children understand maths better when they can visualise the numbers and problems involved so we take time to move from concrete (actually handling and manipulating resources such as Numicon, coins, Diennes, counters etc) to pictorial (drawing diagrams of apparatus or representations of the numbers/problem) before asking children to solve abstract problems. Children might be guided through these stages all in one lesson or it might take longer, especially for our younger children who learn and explore concepts best through practical tasks. At the pictorial stage we use the bar model throughout the school wherever appropriate and encourage children to use this themselves when considering abstract number problems.
Children then complete activities, both in their pairs and individually, to practise the lesson's key skill. There are three levels of activity (described below) which children work through. The aim is that all children will have successfully completed the 'Secure It' by the end of the lesson - meaning they have achieved an age-related objectve. Many will go further and advance through one or both of the other two levels, therefore gaining a deeper understanding of the concept. However, by competing the 'Secure It' level first there is a quick check for all children that the skill is fully grasped before moving on rather than making assumptions about children's individual understanding. Adult support is targetted in each lesson to those needing further explanation, reassurance and help. This obviously can't be planned for in advance so teachers and teaching assistants respond to individuals needs as they arise within a lesson.
'Secure It' (red) - a maximum of eight questions to practise the key skill, this links very closely to the guided part of the lesson (tasks will be practical where appropriate, not always written)
'Do It' (yellow) - reasoning and problem solving questions to further explore the key skill (again, not always written depending on the topic/stage of learning)
'Deepen It' (green) - an extension of the key idea often using the concept in different contexts e.g. identifying where a given problem has been solved incorrectly and correcting it, explaining what method they would use or calculating in the same way but with a real-life context
Through the flexible use of additional teachers and teaching assistants in the afternoons, any children really struggling with the lesson's concept or skill will receive small group or 1:1 intervention that afternoon so they are ready for the next lesson the following day. Obviously common misconceptions are also addressed by the class teacher in subsequent lessons and planning adapted as needed.
There are a very small number of children who have My Plans or EHCPs/Statements who have their own personalised maths curriculum and will not be following the new lesson format - you should know if this applies to your child, do ask if you're not sure.
Years 1 and 4 trialed this new lesson format before we made the decision to introduce it across the school and we saw great results from the children who have made brilliant progress so far this year. Children also reported that they liked the new way of doing maths and found it had 'the right amount of being tricky' but that they were 'able to get there through the lesson'. All other classes are now learning in this way and we are confident we will see similar results. Pupil conferencing is planned in for after May half-term. We'll let you know what our children say!
Maths in Reception Class
Maths, like all the other subjects, is slightly different in Reception as formal teaching runs alongside opportunities to practise skills in other areas through teacher directed continuous provision and free play. Teacher-led tasks do however follow the same format with tasks progressing through the three coloured levels meaning children will be familiar with this system when they move to Year 1. The same types of challenge are also provided and we are confident this will result in children with a deep understanding of the basic skills that the EYFS curriculum focuses on. If you've got any questions please come and see Mrs Mills who will be happy to talk specifically about your child.
Reception have been working in groups to measure and compare their heights!
A Note on Challenge:
Whereas previously children doing well in a lesson might have been challenged by working with bigger numbers or decimals for example the emphasis now is on understanding methods, why they work and are chosen, explaining processes and applying skills into different contexts. Children will also now only in exceptional circumstances be exposed to objectives from higher year groups than their own as we believe there is plenty of scope for deepening knowledge and skills within each year group. It's important that children really grasp concepts before moving on so that each next step builds on solid foundations without gaps. This means that perhaps logical next steps might not be taken until the next year, for example in Year 2 children will work on the working out and rapid recall of two, five and ten times tables only, really understanding what multiplication and division mean and the different ways of representing problems and number sentences. Children will then work on solving problems in a variety of real-life contexts. They won't move on formally to learn the other times tables until Year 3 and they're then expected to recall all the times tables up to 12x12 quickly by the end of Year 4. That said, we would, of course, expect children to be able to apply their methods of drawing arrays or sharing 'sweets on plates' to other times tables to work out the answers to calculations if needed. In this sense it might appear harder to see those children achieving high levels in their maths being stretched as the traditional approach of bigger numbers and harder calculations is no longer considered the best next step. Please do come in and ask if you're concerned about the level of challenge your child is getting in maths, whether you think their tasks are too hard or too easy the class teacher will be happy to discuss this with you and take your thoughts on board.