The 2014 National Curriculum for maths aims to ensure that all children:
- become fluent in the fundamentals of mathematics, including through varied and frequent practice with increasingly complex problems over time, so that pupils develop conceptual understanding and the ability to recall and apply knowledge rapidly and accurately.
- reason mathematically by following a line of enquiry, conjecturing relationships and generalisations, and developing an argument, justification or proof using mathematical language
- solve problems by applying their mathematics to a variety of routine and non-routine problems with increasing sophistication, including breaking down problems into a series of simpler steps and persevering in seeking solutions.
At Chellaston Junior School, we follow the mastery approach to teaching mathematics to ensure all of our children acquire a long-term, deep, confident and adaptable understanding of maths concepts. Our belief is that every child can understand and succeed in mathematics through whole class interactive teaching, where pupils can fully master concepts before moving on ensuring no one is left behind and opportunities are in place for deepening further. Children master concepts one at a time, building on prior learning to help them see patterns and connections.
The mastery approach to teaching mathematics is underpinned by five key ideas:
- Coherence – lessons are broken down into small, connected steps providing access to all learners. These small steps allow mathematical concepts to be applied in a range of contexts.
- Representation and structure – all concepts in lessons are represented in three ways, using concrete resources (real objects) pictorial representations and abstract thinking.
- Mathematical thinking – children are given the opportunity to think about, reason and discuss mathematical concepts.
- Fluency – quick and efficient recall of number facts is vital.
- Variation – children are shown the same mathematical concept approached in several different ways to develop a deep and holistic understanding.
To facilitate this we use Power Maths as a basis for our maths lessons. This is a DfE recommended resource which supports the mastery philosophy through a small step approach, incorporating problem solving, thinking and discussion to developing fluent recall and conceptual understanding.
Our lessons start with an anchor task followed by short ‘power up’ activity for those who complete the anchor task, these support fluency in key number facts. Through ‘discover and share’ the children explore practical real life problems using concrete resources, pictorial representations and abstract thinking to explore methods. We share ideas and compare different ways to solve the problem explaining our reasoning using key mathematical vocabulary through stem sentences. In the next part of the lesson ‘thinking together’, we work our way through the concept, digging deeper and deeper so that each child builds on secure foundations whilst being challenged to apply their understanding in different ways and with increased independence. Children then have the opportunity to practice independently, rehearsing their skills to develop fluency and confidence. Finally, the children have time to reflect on their learning and demonstrate their understanding of the concepts explored in the lesson.