1. Intent: why do we teach what we teach?
Every pupil is a mathematician at KSA. We want children to think like mathematicians and not just do the maths. A strong understanding of mathematical concepts like number sense, pattern finding, generalising and problem solving are key to being successful in other academic pursuits as well as in wider society. As a result, by equipping students with the tools to be a good mathematician we are also giving them more freedom to be successful at university at beyond. At KSA we believe the best way to do this is to get the basics right first by spending enough time to explore, understand and become fluent with foundational ideas before moving on to more complex ideas.
To achieve this we follow the Maths Mastery (MM) curriculum. We have been following the MM curriculum for many years in Primary but 2019-20 is the first year we begin to roll it out throughout Secondary. The maths curriculum is cumulative - each school year begins with a focus on the concepts and skills that have the most connections, and this concept is then applied and connected throughout the school year to consolidate learning. This gives pupils the opportunity to ‘master maths’; by using previous learning throughout the school year, they are able to develop mathematical fluency and conceptual understanding.
By starting from the basics and working our way slowly up we are also ensuring that students most at risk of underachievement start their life at KSA with every chance of being successful. It means their mathematical journey at KSA starts at an accessible point and that along the way we can catch students as and when they end up demonstrating that they need extra support.
In Primary each year group has a set of non-negotiable skills, e.g. column addition and subtraction with regrouping, which each child needs to master in order to be ready for the next year’s mathematical learning. These skills are explained in a knowledge organiser which is shared with children and parents at the start of the year and are continually practiced in daily Do Nows and any other opportunities teachers find to ensure all children become fluent in them.
By attending, and at times hosting, CPD sessions, subscribing to professional communities like the ATM and engaging in their literature, being active on professional aspects on social media and engaging with educational literature we are attempting to ensure that everything from our long-term planning to our in-lesson interactions are informed, in part, by educational and scientific theory as well as at times drawing on the knowledge of more experienced others where appropriate.
2. Implementation: how do we teach what we teach?
All pupils always work to the same learning objective every lesson: we are all climbing the same mountain. Teachers plan for the fact that some students will need more scaffolding; others will require a greater challenge. In maths we aim to meet the academic needs of all learners every lesson through the use of differentiated questioning with simpler questions being directed at children who need to build a sense of success and more complex reasoning questions used to check pupil understanding. Typical scaffolding in Primary maths lessons involves providing concrete and pictorial representations to support learners to understand mathematical concepts, if pupils have not understood learning in a lesson, teachers aim to take them out for a same day intervention to review this learning and support children to tackle misconceptions.
Maths Mastery lessons follow a six-part structure of a Do Now, New Learning, Talk Task, Develop Learning, Independent Task and Plenary. In primary, we also teach daily Maths Meetings designed to consolidate key areas of mathematics or introduce new topics, these occur 3-5 times a week for 15–30 minutes. Each week concentrates on a different times table and by the end of Year 4 all times tables have been taught. This will prepare pupils to be successful in the new National Multiplication Check.
The maths curriculum is driven by the maths leaders of the school through the embedding of long-term curriculum overviews following the Maths Mastery unit order and the development of medium-term plans by subject leaders. In primary, maths is co-led by an Assistant Principal and a part time Maths lead. The Secondary department is led by a Head of Department (HoD) and a Deputy Head of Department (DHoD).
In primary, we have two Maths Mastery subject development conferences each year. The visits involve a Maths Mastery specialist joining subject leaders for a review of teaching and learning. These conferences help to inform subject priorities. All maths PD sessions have an emphasis on the team engaging with some maths to develop subject knowledge. All teachers receive termly PD linked to school priorities and individual PD based on coaching drop ins, planning scrutiny and book looks. This is further reinforced through exam exposure, marking and moderation. Mathematical themes are explored in each department meeting to help refresh and improve teacher’s ideas of what it means to both do and teach mathematics.
With the belief that any pupil attainment gaps that might emerge are down to a provision gap, all MTPs are created centrally by the HoD or DHoD, any trainees the department may have are partnered with an experienced teacher to mentor and be with them in their classes. Whilst all teachers have some flexibility for their classes with what their lessons and MTPs end up looking like, through weekly line management and wider checks related to performance management the HoD, DHoD and mentors for the trainees can ensure there is a high quality of lesson planning/preparation occurring and that content is being covered at the right rate.
3. Impact: how do we know what pupils have learnt and how well they have learnt it?
The table below summarises the formative and summative assessments that take place in lessons across all the years.
Curriculum leaders think hard about how to maximise the impact of feedback on pupil progress while ensuring teacher workload is not too high. In primary, pupils therefore benefit from whole class feedback, through stack marking and pupils edit work as a result of this. Teachers continually assess pupil learning within lessons and give over the shoulder feedback to ensure progress is made. Whiteboard based check for understanding tasks are frequently used in lessons to assess whether children are ready to complete their independent task. If children are not ready, teachers re-model learning to small groups. Half-termly work reviews and CPD time is used to support primary teachers to develop the frequency and consistency of their marking in pupils’ books and the way in which pupils are responding to feedback and improving in maths.
In secondary, the checkpoint test and end of topic text allow teachers to identify points that individual students need to improve and will intervene as required. With the cumulative assessment, in addition to being formative, results are compared with students from across the Ark network and thus give the teacher an idea of how well the student is performing in relation to a large cohort, this enables us to broadly know if each individual student’s progress matches, exceeds or is under where we’d like it to be. In turn, this lets us know if the quality of teaching the class is receiving is in line with our mission of preparing students for success at university and beyond. In the long run, where areas of weakness can be seen across the whole class/cohort this is analysed and, where appropriate, MTPs/LTPs are adjusted to improve the provision for the following year.
Transition time is lessons is used for chanting and call and response activities to develop number fluency. The structure of a maths mastery lesson helps pupils to develop and deepen understanding over the course of a lesson with all children being exposed to new learning and having the opportunity to practice this through a talk task. Deliberate practice is an academy priority and is something we are currently improving. Do Nows which recap maths content from last term, last lesson and a non-negotiable skill are becoming embedded. Developing rounds of deliberate practice in lessons is a subject priority that leaders have been developing this year.
Every maths lesson provides opportunities for pupils to communicate and develop mathematical language through:
- Sharing the key vocabulary (star words) at the beginning of every lesson in the Do Now section, and insisting on its use throughout;
- Modelling clear sentence structures and expecting pupils to respond using a full sentence;
- Talk Task activities, allowing pupils to discuss their thinking and reasoning of the concepts being presented;
- Plenaries which give a further opportunity to assess understanding through pupil explanations.
Each Maths Meeting covers several curricular areas, broken down into short segments. Each meeting starts with a song, rhyme, poem or chant, to ensure full participation and enjoyment. We also teach times tables regularly from Year 2-6 to develop our children’s fluency with multiplication and division. We use Timetable Rockstars. This is a carefully sequenced programme of daily times tables practice.