‘Mathematics is a creative and highly interconnected discipline that has been developed over centuries, providing the solution to some of history’s most intriguing problems. It is essential to everyday life, critical to science, technology and engineering, and necessary for financial literacy and most forms of employment. A high-quality mathematics education therefore provides a foundation for understanding the world, the ability to reason mathematically, an appreciation of the beauty and power of mathematics, and a sense of enjoyment and curiosity about the subject.’
National Curriculum Statutory Guidance for Mathematics – Purpose of Study, 2014
In St Josephs, we teach Maths to a high standard using the Maths No Problem scheme (https://mathsnoproblem.com/en/approach/maths-no-problem-programme/). This structured scheme allows for ambitious learning, especially with the variety of concepts and challenging word problems. The scheme is built upon the constant re-circling back to previous ideas and methods. The textbooks, workbooks and on- line resources all help to give a clear progression of learning concepts in an engaging format. Each Maths concept is linked to another, which allows the concepts to become more embedded. New learning on top of a strong base can be built with confidence.
Through the challenging curriculum and word problems, the children learn to persevere and overcome initial difficulties. Practical resources are in regular use and concrete resources such as dienes, cubes and place value discs all help to reinforce deep learning and show the answers visually. The bar method is also taught as a fundamental concept. It is noted that the children attack their Maths lessons with enthusiasm.
The Maths lessons encourage children to learn a variety of methods for the four operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. This gives a wider understanding of a concept and shows understanding from different angles. Children are encouraged to not only find the answers, but also to explain them, prove them and justify them. This leads to a deeper level of understanding.
Journaling in books is encouraged to show the children’s understanding. It is a way for children to explore new thinking in a non- threatening way. They can try out new ideas without the worry of getting something wrong.
Developing the Maths vocabulary in each year group is a key concept. Each Maths topic has its own key words, whether connected to mass, volume, shape, fractions, decimals or place value. This vocabulary is deliberately taught to allow children to talk freely about their learning and to explain their thinking. Sentence starters are available to give the child confidence to talk eloquently. Our lessons are designed so that there is no ceiling to the children’s learning. They access the learning at their own level whilst noting different ways of solving problems from their peers.
The methods that we use in Maths teaching fits the school ethos of all working collaboratively to reach a common goal. During initial maths investigations, there are no wrong ideas. All ideas and accepted as we search to “find out the thinking in the room”. These ideas can them be developed further as the lessons progress. As well as whole class learning, paired work is strongly encouraged. This allows their knowledge to be pooled and brings a sense of security and confidence to those who might otherwise struggle.
The children are encouraged to explore ideas in their own ways and are given freedom to try out new methods even if it leads to making mistakes. Mistakes are part of a journey and in the end lead to deeper exploration and investigation.
As the scheme teaches a variety of methods of solving problems, it allows for all pupils to engage in their preferred way. This allows for diversity. The discussion around the Maths learning gives children opportunity to share and reflect on their concerns, what they have found easy and hard. Through this discussion, the teacher is able to understand the levels of confidence in the room and to support those children more closely in the following lessons. The Maths lessons are for everyone to have a go with plenty of support from peers and adults.
Math is visible and can be used everywhere! We find it in games, block play, art activities, routines and through stories, In St Josephs, we want the children to see how Maths is relevant to them, to see it as fun and also as a challenge. Our teaching is full of real- life problem solving.
Children are encouraged to learn from their peers, not only though paired collaborative work but also through debate and discussion. As their vocabulary grows, they feel able to justify a particular method or answer to the class and be in a place for others to return with their own thoughts on this. They grow in their ability to be taught by others.
We set Maths homework using the video tool, where teachers can explain a particular method that is needed. This educates not only the children but also many parents who may have learnt a different method when they were at school. It is lovely to hear children say that they taught their parents how to do their Maths!