Our aim is to equip all pupils with the skills and confidence to solve a range of mathematical problems through fluency with numbers and mathematical reasoning. We strive to help pupils make connections between mathematical concepts and demonstrate their understanding in a variety of ways. They are encouraged to look for and apply mathematics in all aspects of the wider curriculum, developing essential life skills and an enjoyment and curiosity about the subject.
Our story so far
At Avonwood Primary School we have started our journey over the last year to develop our understanding of the mastery approach in order to improve the teaching and learning of mathematics. We are developing a more consistent approach to planning learning episodes through regular CPD from trained staff and external providers. As a result, there has been a significant change in the way that lessons are structured, the way that maths is presented in books and the way manipulative resources are utilised throughout the school. Pupils are already displaying significantly more confidence to explain and represent their understanding of mathematical concepts. If you were to drop in to see a maths lesson at Avonwood, you would notice the following elements:
We have been purposeful in developing a positive ethos in maths lessons to enable pupils to embrace challenges and recognise mistakes as part of their learning process. We value the importance of effort, giving verbal feedback and working collaboratively with their peers to share ideas in order to improve. We firmly believe in the addition of the word “…yet!” to instil a sense of determination and resilience when tackling a challenge.
Whole class together
Pupils are no longer separated into ability groups across the year groups or within the classroom. We have high expectations and ‘teach to the top’, ensuring that all children access the National Curriculum programmes of study. When planning, teachers consider what scaffolding may be required for pupils who have not yet grasped the concept in the lesson. They carefully structure questions that help to challenge the pupils who grasp concepts more rapidly to enable them to deepen their understanding.
At the start of each lesson there will be a ‘hook’ to draw the children into a real life mathematical application. Time is allowed for the pupils to explore a concept practically, discuss their ideas and share with the class.
The teacher will organise and guide the learning, drawing out key strategies and expanding on the difficult points, modelling further examples of the most efficient method. They display useful representations of the learning, allowing the pupils to see examples of ‘what it is’ and ‘what it is not’.
Pupils have the opportunity to practise what they have learned independently within each lesson. We utilise the CPA approach so the independent practise can take the form of representation using manipulatives, drawing pictures or writing an explanation rather than simply recording abstract equations.
Small step progression
Each lesson is designed to take the pupils on a journey of small steps, in order to embed the concepts and support pupils to make the important connections. Planning should be flexible, responding to the needs of the class. It is perfectly normal for flip chart slides to be added to or adapted from one class to the next within a year group if the class teacher assesses that further consolidation or challenge is needed. Use of visuals and manipulatives will be used to scaffold and challenge the learning for all children at some point in the lesson. Pupils who find it hard to grasp the concept may require longer to discuss the representations with the teacher, whereas those who grasp the concepts quickly might be asked to represent and solve the problem in a new way to extend their learning further.
We use the White Rose Primary Scheme of Learning to map out our curriculum, and a variety of planning resources such as Maths No Problem, Power Maths and the NCETM Professional Development materials to ensure that our pupils have the support and structure to help them succeed.
The use of carefully crafted questions are a vital tool for teachers to quickly assess understanding of pupils’ procedural knowledge and conceptual understanding. It will not be unusual to hear the teacher ask questions such as:
How do you know?
Are you sure?
Can you prove it?
Can you imagine if…?
Can you help me to understand by explaining…?
What’s the same/different?
Is there another way we could find the answer?
Do you agree with…?
These discussions provide challenge opportunities for the more confident children, whilst simultaneously supporting the less confident as they listen to their peers explain their understanding. Pupils actively become supportive role models for their peers.
Instant feedback is vital to ensure that children have the opportunity to respond to, adapt and improve their learning. Next steps will sometimes be recorded in books in specific situations, and verbal feedback stamps show that the teacher has discussed a particular point with the pupil. There may be evidence that the pupil has been challenged further with an additional question to prove or explain, or that the pupil has been given further practise questions to develop or consolidate their understanding following verbal feedback if errors have been made.
All children are kept together in the lessons wherever possible. Teachers should plan appropriate questions to enable specific pupils to access the maths at a level that is suitable for them. Pupils may be supported by additional adults in class, be given additional concrete resources, have pre-teaching sessions or specific home learning activities to develop fluency. Each child with specific SEND difficulties will have targets that are closely monitored by teaching staff and TAs. At Avonwood, we do not label our children as more or less able. We believe that every child can achieve in mathematics. Some may take longer to grasp the concepts, and it is our responsibility to ensure that they have the guided support they need to be successful.