We want our school community to SHINE as mathematical reasoners, problem solvers and logical thinkers.
At Cookham Rise Primary School, we value maths highly. Maths for us is not just about mastering a series of separate procedures; it’s a richly-connected set of skills and problem solving techniques, applicable to almost all areas of school and wider life. As a central part of our curriculum, we know that a good maths learning experience isn’t just about what we learn, but how we learn. To this end, we believe in a small-step, visual approach using a range of clear models and images to broadly enable everyone, regardless of ability, to learn the same content at the same time. We appreciate that deep understanding of a concept doesn’t happen the first time, the second or third time, sometimes not even the tenth time that something is covered. Embedded learning is a long game, and each time we tackle a skill or procedure, we celebrate that it is another step on the journey to achieving full understanding. Struggle and sometimes failure is also part of this journey and we embrace it. Skills, knowledge and procedures are carefully sequenced and revisited to achieve this embedded learning.
As a school we follow a scheme, Abacus, as this provides a good framework for teaching in small, incremental steps and has a cyclical structure, revisiting concepts several times over the course of the year. However, we are flexible and responsive and use our professional judgement to adapt, change or move units around according to the changing learning situation. Most of the time this is an individual decision; sometimes it is a school action. In addition, challenge is high on our agenda and we use other sources such as White Rose and Testbase to support this. We encourage our children to be independent learners and assess themselves and thus provide bronze, silver and gold challenges for them to select from in the majority of lessons.
Lessons will almost always involve modelling of worked examples and thought processes. Our environment supports this through our use of working walls which are used to display worked examples and updated frequently. We have a rich range of resources to create models and images, often more than one for a concept to appeal to as many learners as possible. These will be used to engage and scaffold learning until conceptual understanding is achieved. This will vary for different children and as a school we are dedicated to supporting those who need it and challenging those who are ready to learn to a greater depth. But we are equally committed to avoid diverging from content, even for those who may be working on the objectives from a different year group.
Fluency in well-rehearsed methods is an important part of mathematics, however at Cookham Rise, focus is given to the understanding of the procedures and when they are best incorporated. Thus, problem solving and reasoning are a core part of our maths lessons. We encourage our children to engage in maths talk with correct vocabulary, to work together, to compare different approaches, to justify their choices, to explain their reasoning. Fluency is often achieved during the day in small bursts such as during Early Morning Task time. Our approach to times tables falls in line with this. We have a clearly defined agenda of when solid recall of particular times tables must be achieved across the school. Daily practise through activities, x factor and Time Tables Rockstars is a fundamental part of our daily routines.
Marking has moved away from being an activity done separately by the teacher at the end of the day to being an important part of the lesson. It is now a dynamic, on-the-spot procedure, more akin to verbal feedback. It is responsive to common misconceptions as they happen, rather than after. It enables pupils to see where they are going wrong and adjust their trajectory in that moment. Being responsive in this way means we are able to provide same-day intervention with individuals or very small groups, so the teacher or TA can rectify problems as they crop up rather than retrospectively.
Children are confident, enthusiastic and independent learners in maths lessons. They show pride in their presentation and achievements. Summative assessment takes place at the end of each term and children’s progress and attainment are discussed by teachers and the senior leaders. Data is analysed to provide next steps for individual year groups or the school as a whole. However, assessment is ongoing in class and through observation of recorded work. Children’s books show the child’s journey through their maths learning in a fluent and coherent way with evidence of connection and progression between year groups. Children are regularly required to draw upon prior learning. They use the correct, age-appropriate mathematical vocabulary.
Procedural fluency is a focus, however the majority of recorded work is based around reasoning and problem solving, and children are often required to write reasoned explanations. Children record their understanding in a range of ways around varied contexts and build strategies of increasing complexity, with consistency throughout the school. A variety of visual models, representations and resources are used to scaffold learning. For children who require support, teachers may prolong the use of these or experiment with a range of representations, whilst other children have the scaffolding removed sooner and are asked to reason more deeply.
Children achieve fluency in times tables by the end of Year 4 and so move into upper Key Stage 2 with automatic and rapid recall.