Maths has a prominent focus within the curriculum at Springfield Academy. Children are taught five discrete maths lessons a week, and we look to include maths in other areas of the curriculum, too. Maths lessons 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 practised. We also aim to make maths interesting and enjoyable.
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 is a relatively new concept in our school, but 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 to further their experiences of basic maths skills. Mangahigh and Times Tables Rockstars are used in school as intervention activities, or extension activities and each child has a login that can be used at home, too. Times Tables are a key focus in schools across the country, so there will be a continued focus on learning all times tables 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 practise, 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, identified 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 focuses 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 practise 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 practise 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 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 children are challenged at an appropriate level, and support is given to children throughout the week to further their understanding of the maths skills being taught.
In the EYFS, children’s achievements are ongoing and are assessed against the Early Learning Goals. Children in Key Stage 2 are given an arithmetic test as part of their arithmetic lessons every Monday. This informs teacher planning while also ensuring the progress of children in each class. Every term, children across Key Stage 1 and 2 take part in formal assessments which include arithmetic and problem-solving and reasoning papers. Although children are no longer given levels, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 teachers make judgements about the children’s maths in relation to age related expectations, as set out in the new curriculum. The formal assessments give further teacher evidence towards these expectations, and are not used as a stand-alone assessment judgement. The assessments are also carefully analysed to ensure appropriate progress of every child in each class is maintained.