At Aston St Mary’s, in line with our Christian values, we aim for all of our pupils to:
- achieve deep levels of understanding and mastery within fluency, problem solving and reasoning;
- be flexible in their understanding of Mathematics and select which approaches are most effective in different scenarios, in order to prepare them for Mathematics beyond primary education and in everyday life;
- become inquisitive and resilient learners who can apply their mathematical understanding in different contexts and make meaningful links across their learning.
We have therefore chosen to use the Herts for Learning – Essentials Maths Planning, as this strongly implements our intent and embeds the mastery approach through carefully structured sequences which we adapt to meet the needs of our pupils.
The HfL sequences are written as a spiral curriculum in which learning is built upon step by step, sequence by sequence and year on year. It is aspirational and ensures progression and coverage through the primary phase for pupils in mixed age classes of Years 1 & 2, Years 3 & 4 and Years 5 & 6. Concepts in the parallel year groups have been carefully aligned. In the case of Year 3 in Orchard, where a cross key stage occurs, children are taught as separate Year 2 and Year 3 classes to ensure that content and concepts can be taught effectively without crucial steps being missed out. Teachers assess prior learning before planning the sequences in order to determine the pitch and plan for differentiation. The HfL sequences enable access for all, through modelled examples of resources and pictorial representations, scaffolded practice examples, small step progression and highlighted opportunities for pupils to explore concepts at greater depth.
We use a “depth rather than breadth” approach so that when children have mastered a concept during a unit or lesson, they continue to further their understanding at that level rather than just making the numbers bigger for example. Fundamental skills and knowledge are secured first. This often entails focussing on curriculum content in considerable depth at early stages. Resources and pictorial representations are used to support learning in most lessons and in all classes. This supports a deeper relational understanding which explains the reasons behind abstract methods and representations.
Concrete – the use of concrete objects and manipulatives to help them understand and explain what they are doing (bead strings, Dienes, Cuisenaire etc)
Pictorial – building on this concrete approach by using pictorial representations, which can then be used to reason and solve problems (bar models, cherry models, drawings of Dienes etc.)
Abstract – with the foundations firmly laid, children can move to an abstract approach using numbers and key concepts with confidence (formal written methods)
The use of this approach ensures consistency and continuity throughout the school as well as building on progression year upon year. Throughout each sequence, children are encouraged to articulate their understanding through the use of speaking frames and to respect one and others ideas.
Throughout our teaching, we continuously monitor pupils’ progress against expected attainment for their age, making formative judgements. The use of “destination questions” at the end of a lesson enables children to apply their learning in a different context. This provides opportunities to make snapshot judgements to inform the next lessons planning and for misconceptions to be addressed. Our teaching and learning sequences include “Buffer Zones” whereby teachers or learning support assistants can work with individuals or small groups in order to address misconceptions. We use Essential Maths Diagnostic Termly Assessments, in order to identify gaps in children’s learning and areas where further intervention is needed. Our continuous formative judgements inform our discussions in half termly pupil progress meetings. Specific targeted interventions are planned in where appropriate.