Maths at St. Margaret's Primary Academy.
Our aim is:
'To provide experiences that empower all pupils to achieve their potential, use their knowledge, talk mathematically and develop the skills they need to make informed mathematical choices throughout their lives.’
Mathematics supports many of our everyday activities, from making decisions about our personal finances to being able to read train timetables so we arrive at our destinations on time. Therefore, a good understanding of maths is essential in a world filled with the need for calculations, measurements, graphical interpretations and statistical analysis.
To support the mathematical development of all children within the school, our curriculum focuses on teaching conceptual understanding, skills proficiency and the ability to problem solve using mathematical reasoning.
How do we teach maths?
At St Margaret’s we follow the aims of the new maths curriculum, which has reasoning, fluency and problem-solving at its heart. Therefore, we encourage deeper understanding and mastery of maths; not just whizzing from one new idea to another without stopping to understand and think hard.
Fluency involves a focus on the children's efficiency, accuracy and flexibility when carrying out mathematical calculations. It involves them knowing why they are doing what they are doing and making appropriate choices based on this knowledge.
A focus on children's mathematical processes and understanding will enable the development of children's ability to reason mathematically. These concepts need to be held separate from the final product that children are being asked to achieve. A move from describing to explaining to justifying is one way in which children are challenged to reason about maths.
This involves the children being able to apply the maths they know to a variety of different situations.
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 learned, or are learning.
CPA is an approach to teaching mathematics which is based on the work of Jerome Bruner (1960). Bruner believed that children's conceptual understanding develops through three stages of representation: enactive, iconic and symbolic (Concrete, Pictorial, Abstract respectively). Bruner suggested that each of these stages built on the previous one; however they are not age-related.
At the concrete level, children are exposed to a range of manipulatives e.g. dienes, Numicon, Unifix etc and they use these objects as a 'hook' into the learning.
At the pictorial level, the focus is on using visualisation and drawings to help embed the learning. The use of the bar model to help solve problems is an example of this.
At the abstract level, children will be using efficient methods such as column addition to solve problems.
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?
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.