What’s the point of maths?
Maths is a core subject, meaning it is something that is a central part of every day, in every class and every school in the country. This is because maths 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.
How do we teach maths?
At St Margaret’s we follow the aims of the new maths curriculum - which encourage deep understanding and mastery of maths; not just whizzing from one new idea to another without stopping to understand and think hard. What is maths used for in life? Solving problems!
‘Which is a better deal? That 3 for 2 offer… or buy one, get the second half price?’
‘How can I make sure I don’t buy more rolls of wallpaper than I will need?’
‘Will that wardrobe fit in the back of the car?’
‘The recipe says the cake will feed four, but I’m having 10 friends over for my party! How much of each ingredient do I need?’
So that’s where we start…learning where the hidden maths is in problems we might encounter, then solving those problems using skills we have learnt, or are learning.
CPA means Concrete>Pictorial>Abstract and it is a powerful way of learning maths. A child might stick to one approach for a whole lesson, or they could move through all three rapidly. If the class were learning about equivalent fractions, it might look like:
Less confident children holding slices of pretend pizza and matching up the sizes and shapes. (Concrete)
Some children drawing neat and accurate pictures of pizza and dividing them up into equally sized slices, then comparing. (Pictorial)
The most able children could be using their familiarity with multiplication and division to work out the equivalents, and then going on to solve pizza delivery problems. (Abstract)
Understanding numbers, calculation and fractions are our priorities here at St Margaret’s. Calculators are only used by children who already know how to work fluently with numbers, in order to deepen their understanding. More advanced concepts, such as very large numbers, fractions, algebra, ratio and proportion arrive earlier on. Pupils tackle Roman numerals in Year 3 and times tables up to 12x12 are back. Some of what Years 5 and 6 will be learning now, used to be ‘high school maths’. But we are ambitious for our pupils and have already planned our maths curriculum to deliver all this.
How can a parent or carer help?
Keep an eye out for calculation workshops later this year to help you to help your children. And when you’re out and about, give your children genuine problems to solve! How much is…? How far is…? What time…? Or even, ‘Are we there yet?’ and ‘How much longer?’
Pop in after school or make an appointment, and your child’s teacher will be happy to talk to you about the strategies they use to teach maths at school and how you can make a difference at home.