At Morley Victoria the three aims of the Primary Maths Curriculum are at the heart of everything we do, these are:
- Fluency in the fundamentals of mathematics so that pupils develop conceptual understanding, and the ability to recall and apply knowledge rapidly and accurately.
- Reasoning mathematically by following a line of enquiry, conjecturing relationships and generalisations, and developing an argument, justification or proof using mathematical language
- Problem Solving 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
The children are familiar with the language of fluency, reasoning and problem solving and each lesson incorporates these aims. At Morley Victoria we follow the approach of concrete-pictorial-abstract which allows children to fully understand the mathematical concept they are learning. As a school we have invested heavily in manipulatives, such as Numicon and Place Value Counters, which allows children to bring the abstract to life. Children are encouraged to use these throughout all the key stages so they can develop a real understanding of any new concept, for example, percentages or ratio in Key Stage Two. After children have experienced maths through concrete representations, they are then encouraged to represent them pictorially. As a school we are beginning to use the Singapore Bar Model, which is a tool which enables children to have a consistent approach to drawing problems to see what calculation is required, this approach is used from Key Stage One right through to Key Stage Two.
From Year 1 through to Year 6 the children are exposed to ‘Chilli Challenges’ in math’s lesson where they can choose the level of difficulty of the task they want to tackle. The options range from ‘Lemon and Herb’ to ‘Hot’ and even ‘Extra Hot’; the children choose the option based on where they feel they are working in that particular objective. If a child finds the task too difficult they can move down the menu, conversely if they find the task not challenging enough they can move up the menu. The challenges are differentiated through depth of understanding and not breadth, such as using bigger numbers. This approach is a ‘mastery’ approach which ensures that the vast majority of children are working on the same objective, promoting growth-mindset, and this approach really pushes children to understand and not just ‘do’ mathematics, creating stronger mathematicians.
Problem solving is central to any child ‘mastering’ maths. At Morley Victoria every child will be exposed to problem solving. These problems will again be differentiated through a depth of understanding using the ‘Chilli Challenge’ menu. The children will also be taught different problem solving strategies throughout school, such as working backwards or working systematically, so they have a problem solving ‘toolkit’. Children possessing resilience is key to solving a problem (If you can already do it, it isn’t a problem) so teachers will reward children who demonstrate perseverance and mistakes are a good thing as we can learn from them, adjust and move forward.
Maths is a subject which is enjoyed by the pupils and there is no better example of this than the ASPIRE maths competitions which take place for children once they reach Key Stage Two. Children, regardless of ability, are desperate to compete in answering questions against children from Asquith, Fountain and Churwell to secure the much coveted maths trophy! As a parent, although it may sound like a cliché, the best way to support is tables, tables, tables! Any assistance in securing these, and other key number facts such as number bonds, really do give a child the foundations, and confidence, to be successful in this key area of the curriculum. On a final note no one is ‘bad at maths’ everything can be learnt and strategies can be used successfully. As parents you are a role model and supporting children in seeing the benefit of maths as a daily skill (measuring, weighing, money, telling the time etc) and encouraging them to have a growth mind set approach, is hugely beneficial to the children.