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Mathematics at London Fields Primary School

Mathematics is an inter-connected and highly creative subject that has been developed over centuries, providing solutions to some of the world’s most interesting problems. It is essential to everyday life, academic discipline and employment, with the power to change lives. At London Fields, we are passionate about our pupils leaving primary school with a sound foundation in the fundamentals of mathematics and the ability to reason, problem solve and follow lines of inquiry. Central to this lays a sense of pleasure and curiosity about the subject we hope to foster throughout our whole school community.

At London Fields, we use a 'Teaching for Mastery' approach to Mathematics. We also supplement our curriculum using a programme called Maths No Problem. These are high quality textbooks and practice workbooks that support our teachers to plan and deliver lessons, providing opportunities for our pupils to intelligently practise, refine and apply their mathematical knowledge. 

What is ‘Teaching for Mastery’?

When taught to master Maths, children develop their conceptual and procedural fluency without having to resort to rote learning. As a result, they are able to solve non-routine problems in unfamiliar contexts without relying on memorised procedures. Not only do they understand how to solve problems, but can use their conceptual understanding to explain why their solution works.

We all learn together

In Maths lessons at London Fields, where possible, the whole class moves through topics and concepts at broadly the same pace. We spend longer time on key mathematical topics and concepts in order to give all learners both the practice and depth of understanding they need. We believe that all pupils can access and understand the full mathematics curriculum. There is nobody who ‘can’t do Maths’.

We challenge pupils by asking them to explore mathematical concepts in more depth rather than accelerate them onto new content. This has been found to have real benefits to children’s ability to access more complex mathematical ideas as they get older.

We learn deeply…

We give our pupils enough time to explore core concepts and ideas in mathematics at a deep level in order to foster their relational and conceptual understanding. This slower pace and focus on depth eventually leads to greater progress because it gives all learners the chance to become secure. As a result, each year we are able to build new learning onto children’s existing knowledge and it is not necessary to revisit learning from previous years.

We use representations…

At London Fields we use concrete apparatus (things pupils can touch, hold and manipulative) and visual representations  (things they can see) to help children to visualise and internalise mathematical concepts. This allows them to access and understand the mathematical structure of the concepts they are learning about. Through the consistent use of these apparatus and representation, our pupils gain confidence as independent learners to use resources and solve problems.

For more information on the concrete-pictorial-abstract model please click here.

 

For a more detailed overview of teaching for mastery, please click here.

Why do we use this approach?

Our approach is developed from mastery teaching approaches and pedagogy used by Singapore and other high performing Asian countries. This has produced a high level of achievement for these nations. Singapore ranks first globally for achievement in Mathematics and has been within the top 5 nations since 1995. This is true for learners of all abilities, as the graph below demonstrates.

Our approach is also based on empirical research and sound educational theory. We have followed advice from theorists who are widely considered experts in maths education such as Jerome Bruner, Richard Skemp, Lev Vygotsky and Zoltan Dienes.

The Department for Education, the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM), the National Curriculum Review Committee and OFSTED have all emphasised the pedagogy of Mathematics teaching developed in Singapore and the teaching for mastery approach.

Maths No Problem is also one of the few resources currently on the Department for Education's recommended textbook list. In order to achieve this, the programme was required to participate in a 3-step independent evaluation process.

Homework

At London Fields we use homework as an opportunity for children to celebrate success with school learning at home, as well as providing another opportunity for children to practise and refine their skills. Some homework tasks will be related to learning the children have already encountered at school. 

Years One and Two

Every week the children in Year one and Year Two complete a Family Scrapbook Challenge. They will bring home their scrapbook containing a family challenge – such as ‘finding the number 5’ around the house (Reception). The children and their families then write a comment in the scrapbook. See below for more details.

What you need to know:

  • Activities are designed to support national expectations for the age group and aligned to England’s 2014 National Curriculum.
  • Each set includes a weekly Maths challenge for children to complete outside of school with their family.
  • Activities are linked to things at home, the school calendar and cultural events to give purpose and link to real life. They aim to stimulate mathematical conversations, reasoning and problem solving.
  • Scrapbooks are used to record the activity and findings. These can include pictures, photos, diagrams, charts, graphs or any other form of recording.

 

Years Three, Four, Five and Six

Children in Key Stage 2 have homework set by their teacher. Each week they will be set one of the following:

1. Complete a maths activity, set by their teacher, in their orange Homework book.

The activities sent home are short exercises that the children should complete in no longer than 5-10 minutes. If your child experiences difficulty with any homework they receive, please seek further advice from the class teacher.

The homework book should be returned in time for new homework to be stuck in the following Friday.

2. Practise multiplication and related division facts.

Children are expected to know all of their times tables and the related division facts by the end of the Year 4. This is to enable them to solve mathematical problems quickly and efficiently, and save ‘brain-space’ to tackle the difficult parts of more complex problems.

To help with this, children are given a times table related target each term and tested every other week. Children can then use their mathematical knowledge to multiply multiples of 10 and decimals.

Children in Years 3, 4 and 5 have a Times Table Rock Stars login.  They are encouraged to use this at school and at home to practise their timetables.

 

 

How can I help at home?

We believe the best help you can give at home is to find ways to show children that Maths has purpose and relevance to their everyday lives. If your child is in Reception or Year 1, talk about the numbers you can find on the way to school. If your child is in the middle of the school, count up coins when paying for things and ask if you have received the correct change. Meaningful experiences with Maths will not only help children see the purpose of learning about Maths at school but also give them practical mathematical experiences.

See below for a list of external resources to support learning at home:

National Numeracy – Parent Toolkit

Mathletics Parent Pack

Number Rhymes

Reception Maths at home

Year 1 Maths at home

Year 2 Maths at home

Year 3 and 4 Maths at home

Year 5 and 6 Maths at home

Where can I find out more?

If you have any questions or concerns about Mathematics at London Fields or the mastery approach please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Maths Leads, Mr Lawson or Mrs Cardy. You can make an appointment to see them through the school office or by contacting the school email, found at the bottom of this web page.