Mathematics is a universal language. Whether we see it as Einstein did, as the ‘poetry of logical ideas’, or as the tool to navigate quantity, the number system speaks to everyone. At Strand as children study maths, they learn to manipulate and connect numbers, develop disciplined thinking, figure out what’s right and what’s wrong and relish in solving a problem.
The detailed specification in the National Curriculum provides the perfect blueprint for our own maths teaching. Strand’s subject coverage adopts all the objectives in full in each of the following content areas. Below are the subject content areas. In line with the National Curriculum, number has a greater weighting to reflect its pivotal role in mathematics.
The Strand curriculum is underpinned by two core strands of development:
- Quick and reliable recall of number facts
- Efficient methods of calculation (arithmetic)
- Confident manipulation of numbers
Reasoning and problem solving
- Pattern spotting
- Making connections
- Developing logical thinking
- Problem solving
Our aim is for children to build competency in both strands so that by the time they leave us, they are versatile mathematicians, both numerate and confident in their mathematical thinking.
Sequencing and Progression
Within each content area, learning is broken down into a hierarchy of small steps.
Each step builds on what has gone before and prepares children for what comes next.
That way children make progress as they move through each unit, lesson by lesson.
Maths is interconnected so we plan for concepts to reoccur in different contexts.
Learners encounter ideas again to help them connect new learning to what they already know and to keep ideas from being forgotten.
For example, each school year begins with a focus on place value and calculation, which can then be applied in subsequent topics such as measurement and statistics.
To make sure we get this right, we follow a published scheme produced by White Rose as the core progression, supplemented by other materials (eg ‘Maths No Problem’) as necessary. This comprehensive programme structures the introduction of new ideas and blends practice of procedures with the opportunity to reason and solve problems. When learners follow this sequence, we know they get better at maths as they learn to handle problems of increasing challenge.
The maths curriculum has a spiral structure with every content area revisited each academic year. As a core subject, it is taught in daily lessons and also practised in regular short bursts for homework.
In order to really master a concept, learners need to study it in sufficient depth before they move on to something else.
To accommodate this, content areas are organised into blocks that vary in length according to the demands of the material.
For example, in Year 3 the entire autumn term is allocated to place value and calculation with the four number operations - addition, subtraction, multiplication and division - because these mathematical elements are the basis of everything else.
Conversely in the upper school, less time is afforded to calculation. At this stage, the ‘heavy-weight’ concept is not whole numbers but fractional parts.
That is why fractions are allocated five weeks in Year 5 and at least a month in Year 6 so children have the time and space to think deeply about these complex ideas and master the related procedural steps.
From Year 4 upwards, children are grouped for maths. Learners will progress through the same content areas but the amount of practice, consolidation and sophistication of problems are adjusted to reflect differing levels of mastery.
Maths deals in abstract concepts. To support children in visualising these ideas, we use the concrete, pictorial, abstract principle. This means that concepts are first presented with ‘real’ objects, followed by a diagramatic representation before working with numbers alone. We teach children to use a pictorial representation known as the bar model to visualise a range of mathematical problems.