Mathematics at Blakehill
The 2014 National Curriculum for Mathematics aims to ensure that all children:
- become fluent in the fundamentals of Mathematics;
- are able to reason mathematically; and
- can solve problems by applying their Mathematics.
At Blakehill Primary School, we understand that some of our children can find Mathematics challenging, believing, wrongly, that 'they can't do it'. We aim to challenge these view points by focusing on the key aims of the National Curriculum; embedding skills daily and consistently over time. Using the White Rose Maths scheme as a spine to which our teachers tailor their lessons to the needs of their pupils, we are committed to ensuring that every child is able to recognise the importance of Mathematics. We aim for our children to be able to confidently and securely use the mathematical skills and knowledge they have learnt during their time at Blakehill in a range of different contexts, equipping them with the tools they need for the next stage of their education. It is our intent that all children at Blakehill will enjoy Mathematics and experience success in the subject. We are committed to developing children’s curiosity and appreciation of the beauty and power of Mathematics.
The content and principles underpinning the 2014 National Curriculum and the Mathematics curriculum at Blakehill Primary School reflect those found in high-performing education systems internationally, particularly east and south-east Asian countries such as Singapore. These principles and features characterise our approach and convey how our curriculum is implemented:
- Teachers reinforce regularly the expectation that all children at Blakehill are capable of understanding and achieving high standards in Mathematics, relating our philosophy to all.
- The large majority of children at Blakehill progress through the curriculum content at the same pace.
- Differentiation is achieved by emphasising deep knowledge and through tailored individual support and intervention.
- Teaching is underpinned by methodical curriculum design and supported by carefully crafted lessons and resources to foster deep conceptual and procedural knowledge. We follow the concrete > pictorial > abstract approach. This benefits our pupils by providing a hands on, visual view of Mathematics, particularly of concepts that can be difficult to understand abstractly.
- Practice and consolidation play a central role. Carefully designed variation within our approach builds fluency and understanding of underlying mathematical concepts over time.
- Teachers use precise questioning in class to test conceptual and procedural knowledge. Pre / post learning tasks, alongside half termly assessments, allow teachers to identify those requiring intervention so that all children keep up and be successful.
Our teachers and teaching assistants receive regular training and support from subject leaders and the White Rose Maths Hub so that their daily teaching reflects evidence based, successful best practice. Teachers plan together in year group teams. To ensure consistency and progression from year group to year group, Blakehill uses the White Rose Maths scheme as a spine which is then adapted by teachers to meet the needs of children in their class. New concepts are shared within the context of an initial related problem or task which children are able to discuss in pairs. This initial problem-solving activity prompts discussion and reasoning, as well as promoting an awareness of Mathematics in relatable real-life contexts that link to other areas of learning.
In Key Stage 1, these problems are almost always presented with objects (concrete manipulatives) for children to use. Children may also use manipulatives in Key Stage 2. Teachers use careful questions to draw out children’s discussions and their reasoning. The teacher then leads children through strategies for solving the problem or task, including those already discussed by the children. Independent work provides the means for all children to develop their fluency further, before progressing to more complex related reasoning and problem solving activities.
Mathematical topics are taught in blocks. This allows our children to develop a robust and secure understanding of the content. Each daily lesson phase provides children at Blakehill with a challenge, rich and sophisticated problems, as well as exploratory, investigative tasks, which allow our 'rapid graspers' the opportunity to showcase their thinking and understanding in a more complex and challenging way. Teachers, wherever possible, will also develop mathematical links to other areas of the curriculum, allowing children the opportunity to experience how what they have learnt in one lesson can be applied to another - a vital skill for our children. For example, during our 'Curriculum Carousel' sessions in Key Stage 2, our children have the opportunity to apply their Mathematics in cooking, computing and design technology.
At Blakehill, we regularly listen and adapt our approach based on the needs and viewpoints of our children. Subject leaders regularly 'check in' with pupils through the dedicated Maths Subject Council, as well as, more widely. For example, pupils had commented that they would like a fun, interactive tool that would help them learn and remember their times tables. As a result, the school invested in TT Rockstars, an online application that provides our children with a wealth of resources that they can use at school and at home, to learn their times tables confidently. As a school, we also regularly 'enrich' our curriculum, providing our children with opportunities to learn and apply their mathematics beyond their lessons. For example, each year we hold a 'Maths Day', celebrating the beauty and 'amazingness' that is Mathematics. In previous years, this has included a Mathematics play and workshop based around the 'Riddle of the Sphinx', an Egyptian inspired problem solving activity.
We celebrate success in Mathematics in a variety of different ways including whole school celebration awards, times table certificates and KIRF achievement badges.
As part of our recovery curriculum, we have adapted our Mathematics curriculum at Blakehill Primary School for the 2020 / 2021 academic year. Teachers will recap key themes / ideas that pupils may have missed as a result of lockdown from their previous year group. This will ensure all pupils build up the necessary knowledge, skills and understanding to succeed in their current year group. This year, teachers will also recap pupils previous Key Instant Recall Facts (KIRFs) stage (stage 5 for Y6, stage 4 for Y5 and so on) in order to consolidate pupils fluency and instant recall skills before moving on to their current year groups' stage.
It is well documented that children can often underperform in Mathematics because they think they 'can’t do it' or are not 'naturally good at it'. We will address this. Blakehill Primary School has a nurturing ethos and our approaches, as outlined above, support our children in becoming confident, collaborative, independent mathematicians. Our children regularly experience challenge and success in Mathematics, developing a growth mindset, a positive approach to Mathematics. In addition, our curriculum is designed to ensure that pupils enjoy and are enriched by their Mathematics learning, being able to use their knowledge, skills and understanding in a range of different circumstances, both within in and outside of school.
These factors ensure that we are able to maintain high standards, with achievement at the end of Key Stage 2 consistently and significantly well above the national average, with a high proportion of children demonstrating 'greater depth of the required standard' at the end of each phase. Beyond this however, and most importantly, we are able to ensure that our children are confident, empathetic mathematicians who can understand and apply what they have been taught. We regularly 'check in' with our pupils to ensure they have understood what they have learnt and have, most importantly, enjoyed what they have learnt.
This is our Mathematics journey at Blakehill.