“We have a lot of fun in Maths!” – Adriel
“Learning Maths at school helps us with financing – helping to understand money. We save money to spend at the school shop and it helps to build our confidence going to the actual shop.” – Harkaran
“I like being challenged in Maths! We learn a lot about how we can use Maths outside of school.” – Parea
At Boston Pioneers Academy, we believe that all learners should be able to access and engage with a high-quality maths curriculum. We aim to do this by:
- Providing a curriculum that is broken down into small steps that builds upon knowledge gained in current and previous year groups.
- Allowing learners to develop their fluency, reasoning and problem-solving skills through a range of carefully planned activities and questioning.
- Providing opportunities for our learners to understand the purpose and application of maths in the world in which they live.
- Developing an understanding of new concepts through the use of concrete apparatus and pictorial representations, prior to working in the abstract.
- Allowing learners, the opportunity to work with their peers to help develop their mathematical thinking and language (maths talk).
- Identifying gaps in learner’s understanding and intervening with high quality intervention at the earliest opportunity.
Essentially, through our maths teaching we aim to develop independent, reflective thinkers, whose skills in mathematics will also support them across the curriculum and beyond by ‘making maths meaningful’. Maths is integral to all aspects of life and, with this in mind; we endeavour to ensure that our learners develop a positive and enthusiastic attitude towards Mathematics that will stay with them and by the time they leave the Academy they will be confident in managing money, calculations, place value and the use of measures in real-life contexts and across the curriculum.
The teaching of maths at Boston Pioneers Academy is based on the three key aims of the National Curriculum: fluency, reasoning and problem solving. We follow a bespoke mathematics pathway based on Broadbent Maths which clearly outlines small-step progression in each of the strands of the core mathematical concepts taught. We have found that a small-stepped approach leads to better long-term retention of facts, skills, and concepts. Through assessment for learning, we identify the starting points for each of our learners on these pathways and differentiate the maths curriculum in order to ensure that all learners progress and achieve.
All strands of the maths curriculum are inter-woven using a spiral curriculum to help learners make connections over time which creates more robust pathways for recalling and retaining information. All strands of mathematics are covered at least twice during the academic year and alongside this, we teach reasoning and problem solving integrally as part of every step. There are 18 unit plans for each year, with each lasting two weeks. This gives us the time to teach each topic in depth, yet also allows for opportunities to revisit any aspects of maths identified as requiring additional focus.
Our unit plans outline the learning objectives, expected outcomes and small steps of progression to allow for support, stretch and challenge. These units also have in-built assessment for learning activities in order that we are able to pitch each strand accordingly to meet the pupils’ needs. The core mathematical language to be developed is also outlined on the plans in order to give our learners the correct terminology to be able to express their mathematical knowledge and understanding.
Each unit plan also identifies opportunities to apply skills, knowledge and understanding in real-life contexts as this way our learners will being to know the real-life purpose of the mathematical concepts covered. Additionally, we aim to help learners identify the links between maths and other subjects and deepen their understanding through investigations and application across the curriculum.
Our calculation policy explains the approaches that we adopt for teaching addition, subtraction, multiplication and division and it shows how the methods develop as learners progress through the Academy. It is based upon the CPA (Concrete – Pictorial – Abstract) approach. Adopting a common calculation policy, ensures consistency of approach and entitlement and demonstrates clear year on year progression, thus helping to develop the learners understanding of the subject as they move through Boston Pioneers Academy.
Although the focus of the policy is on effective written compact methods, it is important to recognise that the ability to calculate mentally lies at the heart of mathematics. Therefore, all learners have a dedicated fluency session (in addition to their main maths lesson) to ensure their automaticity in core number skills.
In EYFS and KS1, this takes the form of a daily Mastering Number Session. This daily 10-minute session is aimed at strengthening the understanding of number and fluency with number facts.
In Key Stage 2, we explicitly teach each multiplication table at the age-appropriate stage and embed this through our daily teaching. When each multiplication table is introduced, we do this through the ‘rolling tables’ approach. However, as they become more secure, we adapt teaching to provide instant recall of both multiplication and linked division facts. Times Table Rockstars is used as incentive-based programme to increase speed of factual recall.
Mental calculations are not at the exclusion of written recordings though, and should be seen as complementary to, and not as separate from it. In every written method, there is an element of mental processing. Written recordings help learners to clarify their thinking and support and extend the development of more fluent and sophisticated mental strategies.
A typical maths session will include the following aspects:
Practical exploration such as a problem, challenge or a puzzle – something to engage and give a ‘hook’ to the lesson. This may be related to a real-life context and will often involve reasoning, looking for patterns and rules or trying to solve a problem as a class or in groups.
Teacher modelling (I do) and explanation to help children to understand the skill, procedure or concept being explored.
Consolidation of the skill, procedure or concept being modelled. This is often undertaken in the form of ‘partner practice’ (We do). During this aspect of the session, adults within the room undertake AfL to identify learners that need further consolidation before moving on to the next stage and can make immediate interventions to address misconceptions.
Following on from this, independent/group work (‘You do’) will be undertaken which will be differentiated according to identified needs. This will include the application of skills and concepts learnt through opportunities for reasoning and problem solving.
Opportunities to reflect and review on the understanding gained through the session, including addressing misconceptions. (This can be undertaken throughout the lesson through mini-plenaries).
Note: In classes with a particularly wide ability range, when appropriate this model with be adapted to facilitate split input teaching to cater for all needs.
Oracy and Vocabulary – ‘Learning the Words to Learn’
Oracy plays a key part in maths lessons, as learners are encouraged to talk about the processes they have used to reach their answers. This allows adults to identify misconceptions, which in turn moves learning forwards. Teachers will always encourage and promote the use of correct mathematical vocabulary, and in context. Partner-practice and linked partner-talking are openly promoted as key tools for building mathematical knowledge and as an assessment tool. Speaking frames are used to support mathematical explanations and vocabulary.
Experiential Learning – ‘I see and I forget, I hear and I remember, I do and I understand’
Whenever new concepts are introduced, we use a range of maths manipulatives (objects) to aid learners understanding by making maths ‘concrete’ as opposed to ‘abstract’. As learners gain in confidence with each of these concepts, they will use less manipulatives and be encouraged to use pictorial representations, or other written methods to show their working out. Seeing all three (concrete, pictorial, and written calculations/expressions) alongside each other is an important part of building learners’ mathematical understanding, therefore working walls are used across the academy as tools to support and encourage independence in learning. We accept that often, in order to learn, learners must also be given the opportunity to experience failure and build the resilience needed to adapt and overcome their struggles.
Raising Aspirations – ‘The world beyond Boston’
At Boston Pioneers Academy we intend to provide a curriculum that caters for the needs of all individuals as opposed as adopting a one-size-fits all approach. This sets learners up with the necessary skills and knowledge for them to be successful and confident mathematicians in the future. We aim to prepare learners for a successful working life by providing them with opportunities to make sense of the world around them and make explicit links between mathematics and everyday life. We use rigorous assessment framework to identify individual gaps in learning, allowing us to rapidly target areas in need of further consolidation both groups and individuals.
We acknowledge that the majority of learners will move through the curriculum at broadly the same pace. However, based on good AfL, our teachers make decisions about when to progress learners, based on the security of their understanding and their readiness to progress to the next stage. This does not mean that ‘we hold learners back’ or that all learners access the same questions and same activities all of the time as found in some mastery approaches.
Differentiation by a variety of approaches is a non-negotiable aspect of our maths teaching, although, it will often be through the same concept, posing different questions and problems for ‘rapid graspers’ to extend their thinking. Those who are not sufficiently fluent with earlier material, consolidate their understanding, including through additional practice, before moving on. A ceiling is not put on the learners and flexible grouping is adopted based on pre-assessments and AfL undertaken during the partner practice element of maths sessions. All learners are also encouraged to self-select from the levels of challenge on offer. This inclusive approach builds self-confidence and resilience in learners. Those who grasp concepts quickly are challenged through problem solving and reasoning, whilst learners, who are not sufficiently fluent, are provided with additional support to consolidate their understanding further before moving on to appropriate problem solving and reasoning activities.
We recognise that maths does not come naturally to every learner, therefore we offer a range of evidence-based interventions (therapies) to support those who require more than just quality first teaching to stay on track. We are privileged enough to have our very own accredited Numbers Count teacher, who not only works with our most vulnerable mathematicians, but also shares her expertise with colleagues for the benefit of all learners. In addition to this, the interventions (therapies) we are able to offer include PiXL therapies, Success@Arithmetic: NumberSense, Success@Arithmetic: Calculation, Plus 1 and Power of 2. Wherever possible we also undertake pre teaching so that identified learners ‘keep up’ as opposed to requiring interventions to ‘catch up’.
Care and Guidance – ‘No body cares how much you know until they know how much you care”
Upon entry into the Academy, our Early Years baseline data indicates that a significant proportion of learners do not have the social and emotional skills required to access or move forward learning. Through the use of paired and group learning, we promote the opportunity for learners to develop the communication skills necessary for learning. If we fail to develop listening, problem solving, teamwork and resilience, we could hinder the learner’s chances to thrive in an ever-evolving Britain.
We recognise that Parents and Carers are a child’s first educators and actively seek to equip them with the tools to support their child in their mathematical journey. Initially, our EYFS parents are invited to workshops in order that they can understand the learning in maths being undertaken throughout the year, and the methodology and approaches we use. Parents are supported with a toolkit of resources to assist them in supporting early maths at home.
Ongoing communication is key to success, and we use Tapestry to exchange assessment information with parents on a regular 2-way basis.
As learners progress through the school, Family Learning opportunities are offered in order that parents continue to build the skills to be able to effectively guide and support their child. Again, to ensure ongoing communication is addressed, half termly KIRFS sheets (Key Instant Recall Facts) have been developed, which outline age-appropriate mathematical fluency facts. These are distributed to parents and carers so that they are able to support learning at home.
Raising the Profile of Maths
To raise the profile of maths across the Academy and develop learner’s understanding of the significance of maths in real-life, we place emphasis on authentic application making reference to career opportunities that require the mathematical concept being developed. In addition to this, we have our own Academy currency (linked to our rewards system) and an Academy bank and shop, so that learners from the earliest age can develop an understanding of both spending and saving (early money management).
Maths at Boston Pioneers Academy – Curriculum On a Page
SMSC in Maths
You can find out more about how our Maths curriculum supports the Spiritual, Moral, Social and Emotional development of our learners below.