Children at St Mary’s will become fluent in the fundamentals of mathematics, including through varied and frequent practice with increasingly complex problems over time, so that pupils develop conceptual understanding and the ability to recall and apply knowledge rapidly and accurately. Children will learn to reason mathematically by following a line of enquiry and conjecturing relationships and generalisations. Pupils will develop their mathematical language, use discussion to probe and remedy misconceptions, and become adept at presenting an argument, justification or proof. They will learn to solve problems by applying their mathematics to a variety of routine and non-routine problems with increasing sophistication, including breaking down problems into a series of simpler steps and persevering in seeking solutions. Pupils will learn to apply their mathematical knowledge to other subjects, including science, computing and geography.
At St Mary’s, we use the Power Maths programme from Reception to Year 6. Power Maths is a “mastery” approach where the structure and connections within the mathematics are emphasised, so that children develop a deep, long-term understanding of the subject matter before moving on to more advanced material. Lessons are broken down into small connected steps that gradually unfold the concept, providing access for all children and leading to a generalisation of the concept and the ability to apply the concept to a range of contexts. Key facts such as number bonds and multiplication tables are learnt to automaticity to avoid cognitive overload in the working memory and enable pupils to focus on new concepts.
Each lesson begins with a “Power Up” activity to supports fluency in key number facts. Power Ups reinforce key skills such as times-tables, number bonds and working with place value. The next stage of the lesson is the “Discover”, where the teacher gives children a practical, real-life problem to spark their curiosity. Children find the maths in the scenario through story-telling, and have time to explore, play and discuss possible strategies. The teacher will then ask children to present their solutions and strategies, and highlight the variety of methods that may be used to solve a single problem.
The main teaching stage of the lesson is the “Think Together”. The teacher will model working through a question, then present another question and give the children time to think together in groups, discuss their methods and talk through solutions as a class. Children will then tackle a more open-ended question independently, which helps their teacher assess the depth of their understanding.
Children then use their Practice Books to work through questions following small steps of progression to deepen learning. Various approaches to a problem are used to check that children have fully understood each concept. The final question is open-ended and gives the children the opportunity to reflect on what they have learnt and deepen their understanding by discovering new ways to find answers.
In Reception, children develop the core ideas that underpin all calculation. Children record their calculations in their own ways, and whilst there is no expectation of number sentences at this stage, children may choose this way to record their thinking. In Key Stage One, children develop the core ideas underpinning calculation from Reception. They begin by connecting calculation with counting on and counting back, but they also learn that understanding wholes and parts will enable them to calculate efficiently and accurately, and with greater flexibility. They learn how to use an understanding of 10s and 1s to develop their calculation strategies, especially in addition and subtraction.
In lower Key Stage 2, children develop the basis of written methods by building their skills alongside a deep understanding of place value. They use known addition/subtraction and multiplication/division facts to calculate efficiently and accurately, rather than relying on counting. Children use place value equipment to support their understanding. In upper Key Stage 2, children build on secure foundations in calculation, and develop fluency, accuracy and flexibility in their approach to the four operations. They work with whole numbers and adapt their skills to work with decimals, and they continue to develop their ability to select appropriate, accurate and efficient operations.
The mastery approach values real understanding and richer, deeper learning above speed. It sees all children learning the same concept in small, cumulative steps, each finding and mastering challenge at their own level. Teachers use formative assessment during lessons to identify children who have not fully made the small step covered that day. These children are supported to “keep up” rather than “catch up” through same-day interventions either within or after the lesson. Meanwhile, children who grasp a concept easily have time to explore and understand that concept at a deeper level. The whole class therefore moves through the curriculum at broadly the same pace via individual learning journeys.
Each unit concludes with a summative check to help teachers assess quickly and clearly each child’s understanding, fluency, reasoning and problem-solving skills. In Key Stage 2, this check also contains a SATs-style question to help children become familiar with answering this type of question. The Practice Book contains further opportunities for assessment, offering insights into children’s answers and the implications for the next learning steps.