Subject leader – Claire Arnold
"The curriculum is broad and suitably balanced with due prominence given to ensuring the acquisition of fundamental skills in English and mathematics" (Ofsted, May 2016).
"Programmes to improve the extent to which teaching in English and mathematics gives pupils a secure command of key concepts and also offer opportunity for stimulating challenge are being pursued" (Ofsted, May 2016).
We believe that the vast majority of children can attain sound understanding of the key concepts in Mathematics. We present Maths in a positive light and avoid labelling children as good/no good or high/average/low ability in Maths. We encourage a ‘can do’ approach to foster in all curiosity, enjoyment and confidence in this essential and fascinating subject. Mathematical talk, using accurate vocabulary, is encouraged in order to communicate mathematical thinking and share strategies and efficient ways of working, from the earliest stage. Models and images are used with children of all ages to represent mathematical ideas in multiple ways and in a range of contexts; we cater for different learning styles and promote the aims of the National Curriculum for Mathematics:
At Icknield, we are developing new ways of working to involve all of the above elements in our Maths lessons, so that all pupils are frequently challenged to apply the Maths they have been learning. The emphasis is on ensuring that the vast majority of pupils develop secure understanding of age-appropriate expectations and once this is achieved, they develop their skills sideways rather than upwards – in other words, they learn to use and apply their Maths through reasoning and problem-solving, rather than moving onto the next year’s expectations without any depth of understanding.
You may hear the children referring to something we call CLICK (standing for Counting, Learn-its, It’s Nothing New, Calculation and Know your numbers) which we adapted from the ‘Big Maths’ initiative. This forms a 5-10 minute element of our daily Maths in school and ensures that key skills such as counting (including counting in 10,000s or decimals for the older children) and recall of number facts are practised daily and that concepts are not taught and then left for a long period of time, but are are re-visited on a regular basis, using reasoning and problem-solving activities. You may find the following useful in seeing the sort of challenging question/short activity that may be used in your child’s year group to help pupils apply their learning. This sort of question may also be used to move children’s learning on as opposed to them completing lots of similar textbook questions – as a general rule, if pupils can complete six questions correctly relating to a particular step of progression, they have probably 'got it’!
National Curriculum Objectives
The following document provides the key objectives to be taught in Key Stage 1 (Years 1 and 2), Lower Key Stage 2 (Years 3 and 4) and upper Key Stage 2 (Years 5 and 6) in the following areas of Mathematics as appropriate:
Supporting your child
Fluency in Number Facts
Any help you can give your child with learning number facts at home will be of great benefit to him/her as he/she moves through the school, providing a firm base on which to build more demanding calculations.
Please note that fluency in the recall of number bonds (addition and subtraction facts) as well as multiplication tables and related division facts requires learning facts off by heart; if when asked 4 + 3 = ? a child either counts from 1 to 4 and/or puts up 4 fingers and then holds up another 3 fingers and either counts all from 1 again or counts up from 4 to 7, he/she is counting NOT calculating. Counting comes first, but the ability to calculate/recall number bonds is just as vital as being able to recall times tables; if you learn and know 4 + 3 = 7 (quickly, without counting), not only will you perform such calculations rapidly when they arise within a written method for adding two 6-digit numbers in Year 5, but you can make vital mathematical connections such as recognising 40 + 30 = 70, 700 – 400 = 300, 4/8 + 3/8 = 7/8, 0.7 – 0.4 = 0.3 etc.
It is very helpful for children to see the equals sign in different positions within a ‘number sentence’ or equation – they need to recognise an equal sign as a balance (i.e. whatever is either side of it must be equal) e.g. 12 = 8 + 4 = 15 – 3, rather than something that shows the ‘answer’ and nearly always on the right-hand side e.g. 7 + 3 = 10. This may be something to consider when writing ‘calculations’ (not ‘sums’ which only refer to additions) for your child to complete. Missing number/sign problems, e.g. 8 = ? + 2, are very good for developing mathematical reasoning too.
At Icknield, we have developed our own scheme for ensuring that pupils become fluent in recalling number facts appropriate to their year group, from Reception onwards. The following document provides an overview of the ‘Icknield Number Facts Olympics (INFO)’ scheme, showing number facts to be learnt off by heart in each year of the school:
Learning times tables
The expectation of the 2014 National Curriculum is for all children to be able to recall all multiplication tables up to 12 x 12, and all corresponding division facts, by the end of Year 4.
Let’s Talk and Think Maths!
Opportunities to develop mathematical language and thinking are everywhere in our daily lives – count toys/sweets etc; read numbers on houses, buses; find 2-D shapes, 3-D shapes and angles in the environment; practise quick recall of number bonds or chant/sing tables on car journeys; play dominoes, card games, Snakes and Ladders, Monopoly etc; read prices and find the correct money to pay for items at the shop; total items on a receipt; read times on the microwave, DVD player, kitchen wall clock, timetables; read graphs in the newspaper or online; calculate the sale price of items with a percentage discount; find and feel food packets that are lighter/heavier than 500g; use a 5ml medicine or teaspoon to estimate the capcity of an egg-cup or mug; measure cooking ingredients in grams and millilitres; convert between pints and litres of milk; measure the length and width of household items; mark children’s changing heights on a wall – to give a few examples.
Concrete, practical experience in which children are encouraged to ‘build it’, ‘draw it’ and ‘say it’ provide the building blocks for being able to ‘write it’ and for understanding more abstract mathematical concepts later on. Try asking children to use some toys/conkers/sweets to show you what 6 x 2 looks like, then ask them to draw what they have made and say ‘six lots of/times/multiplied by 2 (or doubled) equals 12’.
Whilst the emphasis in the 2014 National Curriculum has moved towards earlier development of written methods of calculation, we still teach mental calculation strategies and encourage children to be mental mathematicians first, with a good grasp of the size and properties of numbers, only relying on written methods when they provide the most efficient way of solving a problem.
It is essential that children do not race onto written calculation methods (such as standard/ traditional HTU addition) before they have secure conceptual understanding of the place value of each digit in larger numbers – they may perform written calculations quite well, but without much sense of the numbers involved or strategies for checking how sensible their answers are; because these skills are based on rote learning a method, children are very likely to reach a point later on in their mathematical journey when they are unable to apply skills to solve unfamiliar problems and their progress suddenly decelerates.
In order to support small-step progression through calculation, we often use methods that are an expanded version or completely different from those learnt by parents at school; please allow the children to show you the method they are currently working on, rather than teaching them ‘your way’ by rote. Teachers are always more than happy to talk you though the strategies that are being used.