“Mathematics is not about numbers, equations, computations, or algorithms: it is about understanding.” William Paul Thurston
What is Maths?
Why do we study Maths?
Maths is all around us and mathematical knowledge is essential in many aspects of everyday life – from reading a bus timetable and calculating change in a shop to measuring quantities for a recipe. Maths is visible everywhere in nature, such as patterns in plants, hexagonal tessellation in honeycomb and symmetry on a butterfly’s wings. Maths is also central to art, music, science and technology, therefore affecting every aspect of our lives.
Mathematics, a universal language that enables understanding of the world, is an integral part of the curriculum. Beyond the study of numbers, shapes and patterns, it also provides important tools for work in fields such as engineering, physics, architecture, medicine and business. It nurtures the development of a logical and methodical mindset, as well helping to inculcate focus and the ability to solve all manner of problems. Attainment in the subject is also the key to opening new doors to further study and employment. However, despite its importance, for many the subject remains mysterious and difficult, the preserve of those who seem to be ‘naturals’. The education inspection framework (EIF) makes it clear that schools are expected to ensure that the mathematics curriculum ‘helps pupils to gain enjoyment through a growing self-confidence in their ability’
The National curriculum states:
Mathematics is a creative and highly inter-connected discipline that has been developed over centuries, providing the solution to some of history’s most intriguing problems. It is essential to everyday life, critical to science, technology and engineering, and necessary for financial literacy and most forms of employment. A high-quality mathematics education therefore provides a foundation for understanding the world, the ability to reason mathematically, an appreciation of the beauty and power of mathematics, and a sense of enjoyment and curiosity about the subject.
Through their study of the Opossum Maths curriculum, we intend that pupils will:
1.Secure their knowledge and understanding of mathematical concepts – building understanding cumulatively as they progress through the curriculum
Pupils will become fluent in the fundamentals of mathematics, including through varied and frequent practice with increasingly complex problems over time, so that they develop conceptual understanding and the ability to recall and apply knowledge rapidly and accurately.
2.Gain enjoyment through growing self-confidence and a growth mindset
We believe that ability within mathematics is not fixed. We are developing the mindsets of children and adults alike to promote a growth mindset and a ‘we can’ attitude to mathematics. We believe that through quality-first teaching and intelligent practice, children learning together and immediate intervention that all children have the potential to ‘go deeper’ and broaden their understanding of mathematical concepts.
3.Acquire mathematical vocabulary
We intend that pupils develop increasingly wide mathematical vocabulary across their primary school experience. This will enable them to speak a ‘disciplinary language’ in common with other mathematicians. Mastering vocabulary relating to knowledge and concepts supports pupils to understand the concepts and processes they encounter in mathematical problems and the ability to communicate their ideas clearly.
4.Develop fluency in key number facts
Ensuring key skills are secured, to ensure that all pupils can recall and apply knowledge quickly and accurately, developing both procedural fluency and conceptual understanding
5.Use conceptual and procedural understanding to reason and solve increasingly complex problems
Reasoning, or applying logical thinking, is the bridge between fluency and problem solving; this underpins the deepening of understanding. When this is well developed, pupils are able to use their knowledge and skills to solve unfamiliar types of problems.
We intend to build on the growth mindset attitude to ensure that pupils enjoy their mathematical learning and recognise both the creative opportunities of maths and its influence in other learning domains.
7.Become equipped in basic mathematics to support their everyday life as citizens (e.g. financial literacy)
We recognise the essential role of maths in wide-ranging aspects of everyday life. It is important that pupils are able to manage money, budget and make saving plans so that they can enjoy financial security as independent adults.
Through their study of Maths, Opossum values are realised.
Being respectful – Listen to others, disagree respectfully, offer your assistance to others
Being aspirational – an expectation that all pupils can master mathematical concepts and processes and achieve well in maths.
Being caring – support each other when we are exploring problems and mastering key skills.
Having integrity – we are hardworking, responsible and helpful in lessons
Being creative - Creativity is embedded in problem solving; thinking of new ways to define and solve problems
Being community minded – recognise the role that financial literacy has in supporting our community to grow.
Fluency = ease of recall and computation (‘automaticity’)
Procedural fluency = being able to follow a series of steps, algorithms or formulas to the point of memorisation
Conceptual understanding = knowing the procedural steps to solving a problem and understanding why those steps and approaches work
Growth mindset = the belief that intelligence within a subject is not ‘fixed’ – every child has the potential to ‘go deeper’ and broader their understanding of mathematical concepts
Mastery = involves knowing why, as well as knowing that and knowing how; being able to use one’s knowledge appropriately, flexibly and creatively, and to apply it in new and unfamiliar situations
Coherence = connecting new ideas to concepts that have already been understood, and ensuring that, once understood and mastered, new ideas are used again in next steps of learning, all steps being small steps
Representation and structure = representations used in lessons expose the mathematical structure being taught, the aim being that students can do the maths without recourse to the representation
Variation = varying a way a concept is initially presented to students by giving examples that display a concept as well as those that don’t display it.
Scope and sequence
The Opossum Maths curriculum fulfils the requirements of the EYFS and National curriculum. Learning in Mathematics begins in the EYFS where planning is influenced, inspired and informed by the work of leading maths researchers and practitioners from White Rose Maths, Power Maths and the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM). This progressive maths overview aims to create a culture of mathematics in the classroom that is deep and develops understanding, confidence and competence. “Maths is an adventure for children (and adults) to immerse themselves in, get creative with, make mistakes, and conquer” (Power Maths, 2021).
At KS1 and KS2, all strands from the National curriculum are included in the curriculum map and sequenced as set out in that document. Number concepts and processes hold a prominent position in each year’s curriculum overview, in recognition of the importance of securing number skills and their fundamental role in accessing other aspects of the maths curriculum. Measurement, Statistics and Geometry studies are studied each year, building progressively in sequential steps.