Maths skills are used throughout daily life, often at times when we don’t realise they are being used! Maths isn’t just about calculating – It involves measurements, positions, money and many other aspects. One of the main parts of maths is problem solving – being able to work logically through a problem in order to reach a suitable solution. Our main priority is that we can prepare children as best we can for tackling real-life problems which they will face as they get older. We hope to instill resilience when solutions don’t come easy to them. Also, we aim to ensure basic facts can be quickly recalled to enable children to tackle some of their problems with confidence and accuracy.
At Springfield Academy, we recognise that children are living within a world where they will often need to show resilience to solve problems, and therefore we aim develop confidence, alongside knowledge, of maths so that children are prepared to face these problems in the outside world. This problem solving comes alongside having to recall facts, often at speed, in everyday situations. Maths lessons at our school include opportunities for children to develop their fluency, reasoning and problem solving skills. We also ensure that arithmetic is taught on a daily basis, and basic number skills are regularly practiced. Problem solving skills will also be taught through other areas of the curriculum, so that children are not just seeing maths as a discrete subject on its own.
Basic Maths Skills (Key facts)
Learning basic maths facts is something that has become a key part of maths within Springfield. At the start of each maths lesson, children take part in a ‘Blue and Red Number cards’ activity. This concept is one which has had a huge impact in all classes from Reception up to Year 6. In these five minute starter activities, children recall basic facts from two 1-digit numbers. They add them, subtract them, multiply them, double them, halve them, multiply and divide them by 10 and 100, and create fractions, amongst other things. The questions increase in complexity as the children move through the school. Teachers will encourage children to use these facts to answer related maths questions, where all they need is the basic fact. An emphasis is therefore put on that maths is all about patterns, and many facts can be found from the basics. Every child in Key Stage 2 has the blue and red number cards at home, along with a sheet of key questions, so that children and parents can work together to develop automaticity in the recall of key/basic number facts. Alongside these blue and red number cards, children are given opportunities to access online programs, such as Times Tables Rockstars, to further their experiences of basic maths skills. These could be used as intervention activities, or extension activities, and each child has a login that can be used at home, too. With times tables now being a country-wide focus, we are also focussed on ensuring children can recall facts with speed and accuracy by the end of Year 4. Staff in Springfield will always encourage children to practise their basic maths skills at home and in school.
Arithmetic skills are crucial in allowing children to grasp the more difficult mathematical concepts that they face across the year groups. These are the calculations which form an integral part of every maths unit. At Springfield, we aim to ensure that children in each year group are confident in the methods being taught so that their skills can be applied in other areas of maths. Every Monday, children in Years 2-6 take part in an arithmetic skills session, where these calculations are continuously revisited and strategies are discussed through differentiated questioning. As part of this session, children may sit and complete an arithmetic test. The aims of regular testing in arithmetic are to raise confidence within the children through regular practice, to inform teacher planning and allow staff to focus on specific areas, and allow children to experience testing procedures before moving into Year 6. Specific areas of arithmetic are then revisited through the week during starter activities. This allows children to remain focused on developing arithmetic skills, even when lessons are focusing on other areas of the maths curriculum, such as shape, space and measure. In Year 1, the curriculum focusses on number and calculation skills regularly, so children are accessing these skills on a daily basis for the majority of the year.
Fluency in maths is all about being able to answer questions given with accuracy and efficiency, and is at the centre of the National Curriculum for maths. It is about knowing mathematical facts and methods, and being able to recall these efficiently. The progress through a unit of work will allow children opportunities to practice and memorise methods to become mathematically fluent. Fluency in maths is taught in every maths lesson through a range of activities which use concrete, visual and abstract resources. In KS1 maths lessons, there will be increased use of concrete and visual resources, so that children can ‘see’ the maths which they are learning, and so that they can understand the underlying pedagogy behind the mathematical concepts. As children move up through the school, fluency activities will use more abstract approaches, and will allow children to practice their skills through a variety of question styles. Fluency in some units allows children to use their learnt arithmetic skills, but to apply them to different contexts. It is the fluency that needs to be developed in children before they can tackle the more complex problem-solving and reasoning activities.
Problem-Solving and Reasoning
Problem-solving and reasoning is taught within a unit of work once the children have the conceptual understanding from fluency activities. During each lesson, children in all year groups are given the opportunity to access at least one problem-solving or reasoning question linked to the objective that they are learning. Generally, this will be through discussion with the teacher, or in small groups, and children will be encouraged to share their thoughts and explain their thinking. In these activities, a focus will be put onto the mathematical vocabulary which children are using within their explanations. These question-types allow children to apply their knowledge from the teaching of fluency to a range of problems in different contexts. More able children will then be given further opportunities to develop their problem-solving and reasoning skills within their independent activities. Problem solving and reasoning skills are tested within the regular assessments that children take part in throughout the academic year.
High achievers in maths are challenged through lessons through differentiated questions and more targeted discussions. Children within these ability groups will be given the opportunity to access whole-class problem-solving and reasoning skills as part of the teaching session; however, they will be further challenged through their independent activities, with an emphasis in applying their skills in some quite challenging concepts. All maths lessons in Springfield should ensure that high achievers are challenged, and support is given to these groups of children throughout the week to further their understanding of these difficult maths skills.
In the EYFS, children’s achievements are ongoing and pupils are assessed against the Early Learning Goals at the end of Reception. In Key Stage 1 and 2, maths is assessed continuously through a lesson with teachers supporting children, marking throughout an activity and immediately giving feedback where required. Progressive objectives are highlighted through a unit of work, and this ongoing assessment is used to inform future teaching. Weekly arithmetic tests are given to children in Year 2 to Year 6, which further informs teacher planning. Formal assessments are also used to ensure children are making progress. These are not used as a stand-alone assessment judgement, but instead give further evidence towards age-related expectations. This regular assessment of children enables teachers to develop and adapt the curriculum so that maths can be delivered effectively to all children. The subject leader supports staff in the delivery and assessment of maths through training and discussions. They will gather knowledge of how maths is being taught through learning walks, book scrutinises, pupil interviews and staff feedback. Members of SLT regularly monitor maths books to ensure the high expectations are consistent throughout the school.
With skills embedded, children should therefore be able to use these across the curriculum and show more confidence when accessing areas of the wider curriculum which require maths.