Maths is one of the core subjects in the primary curriculum and is taught daily at our school. We teach maths in a creative, yet meaningful, way in order to prepare our children for their future. Our aim is to develop children’s love of maths through stimulating and engaging lessons which allow children to deepen their understanding of a range of mathematical concepts. Our approach is highly visual, makes the best use of concrete resources and is fully aligned with the expectations set out in the National Curriculum 2014.
When teaching numbers, we focus on measure (length, mass, capacity, money, time) and problems using real life contexts whenever possible. Our calculation policies (see below) outline the different methods that children are taught in order to accurately add, subtract, multiply, and divide. We believe that it is important not to rush children onto using written methods before they have developed a secure conceptual understanding of each mathematical concept. To this end, we therefore ensure that children have access to concrete resources in every lesson from Reception to Year 6.
We track the children’s key maths skills so they become fluent mathematicians, thereby allowing them to apply their skills in various real-life problems with increasing confidence. As a whole school community, we work hard to ensure that all children leave us confident in their mathematical skills and knowledge and are ready for the challenge of secondary school.
Use of practical Resources
At Monks, we teach mathematical concepts using concrete materials (such as Dienes, cubes, bead strings, and place value counters) and imagery to support children’s understanding in all year groups from Reception to Year 6. This teaching style is known as the Concrete-Pictorial-Abstract approach, or CPA approach, which suggests that there are three steps necessary for children to develop a secure understanding of a mathematical concept. This approach has a strong base of evidence to show it really develops knowledge and understanding for all pupils, including the most able, and is outlined below:
Concrete representation - children are introduced to a mathematical idea or a skill by acting it out with real objects. This is a 'hands on' component using real objects and it is the foundation of any mathematical learning.
Pictorial representation - when children can confidently solve problems accurately using concrete resources they will then start to draw representations of these objects, such as diagrams or pictures.
Abstract representation - when children can confidently solve problems by drawing pictures of their thinking they finally represent problems by using mathematical notation, for example: 12 ÷ 2 = 6.
Mental maths refers to the rapid recall of number facts, for example, knowing your times tables off by heart or knowing, without having to work it out, that 4 and 6 will make 10. The ability to quickly recall number facts is a vital aspect to becoming a fluent mathematician. Learning number facts will enable your child to:
(i) Move on easily to most other things in mathematics including division, fractions, decimals, percentages and algebra.
(ii) Answer questions more quickly and be able to focus on using other maths strategies in more complex problems.
(iii) Increase confidence levels as this part of the question is 'solved' instantly.
(iv) Play a vital role in their everyday life.
Therefore, at Monks, we dedicate 5-10 minutes per day to practising number facts and times tables. Additionally, each class has a weekly, short, timed Mental Maths test where children are motivated to advance through the levels so they can learn number facts to 12 x 12 and beyond!
We feel that a practical approach including problem solving and collaborative learning inspires the children to learn through real-life contexts. Research suggest that children learn concepts and skills more quickly when they encounter problems that are familiar to them and appear useful to them in their real life.
Therefore, at Monks, we not only have one dedicated problem-solving lesson per week but also try to teach all maths learning in context, usually linked to the children's current learning topic.
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