At St Michael’s we aim to nurture flexible, brave and excited mathematicians who are curious and feel empowered to tackle new challenges. We follow a mastery approach to maths and this means pupils of all ages acquiring a deep, long-term, secure and adaptable understanding of the subject. The phrase ‘teaching for mastery’ describes the elements of classroom practice and school organisation that combine to give pupils the best chances of mastering maths. Achieving mastery means acquiring a solid enough understanding of the maths that has been taught to enable pupils to move on to more advanced material.
The essence of maths teaching for mastery:
- Maths teaching for mastery rejects the idea that a large proportion of people ‘just can’t do maths’.
- All pupils are encouraged by the belief that by working hard at maths they can succeed.
- Pupils are taught through whole-class interactive teaching, where the focus is on all pupils working together on the same lesson content at the same time, as happens in Shanghai and several other regions that teach maths successfully. This ensures that all can master concepts before moving to the next part of the curriculum sequence, allowing no pupil to be left behind.
- If a pupil fails to grasp a concept or procedure, this is identified quickly and early intervention ensures the pupil is ready to move forward with the whole class.
- Lesson design identifies the new mathematics that is to be taught, the key points, the difficult points and a carefully sequenced journey through the learning. In a typical lesson pupils sit facing the teacher and the teacher leads back and forth interaction, including questioning, short tasks, explanation, demonstration, and discussion.
- Procedural fluency and conceptual understanding are developed in tandem because each supports the development of the other.
- It is recognised that practice is a vital part of learning, but the practice used is intelligent practice that both reinforces pupils’ procedural fluency and develops their conceptual understanding.
- Significant time is spent developing deep knowledge of the key ideas that are needed to underpin future learning. The structure and connections within the mathematics are emphasised, so that pupils develop deep learning that can be sustained.
- Key facts such as multiplication tables and addition facts within 10 are learnt to automaticity to avoid cognitive overload in the working memory and enable pupils to focus on new concepts.
At our school, we have embraced Power Maths as or mastery scheme of work. Power Maths is a resource that has been designed for UK schools based on research and extensive experience of teaching and learning around the world and here in the UK. It has been designed to support and challenge all pupils, and is built on the belief that EVERYONE can learn maths successfully.
As well as Power Maths, we have also made use of White Rose materials to support our home learning and intervention work. White Rose and Power maths are matched to each other which ensures there is consistency with the progression of skills and knowledge as well as when moving between class-based work, small group intervention and home learning.
We believe that to enable children to access and enjoy more difficult concepts, they must have a secure understanding of key facts such as multiplication tables and addition facts within 10. Therefore, we use both Times Table Rock Stars and NUMBOTS across the school. This has provided the learners at our school with a fun and engaging tool that allows them to improve their understanding of number and multiplication.
The impact of our approach to maths learning at St Michael’s is to create children who have the skills, knowledge and confidence to prepare them for the next stage in their educational journey and beyond. It is important that we give our mathematicians the opportunity to become resilient and to understand what is meant by 'knowing' something and how it can be applied elsewhere. By providing sufficient learning opportunities and links between representations and structures, mathematical reasoning, variation and fluency, we aim to ignite a fascination in maths that highlights it’s importance. We want children to recognise that maths goes beyond the classroom and can been seen in all areas of life and future experiences.
If you are stuck and need help, you can try to solve it yourself on the Times Table Rock Stars Youtube channel :