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Maths: Our Approach to Teaching Maths and Calculation Strategies

We follow a Mastery approach to mathematics.


The principles and features which characterise this approach are:

• Teachers reinforce an expectation that all pupils are capable of achieving high standards in mathematics.

• The large majority of pupils progress through the curriculum content at the same pace. Differentiation is achieved by emphasising deep knowledge and through individual support and intervention.

• Teaching is underpinned by methodical curriculum design and supported by carefully crafted lessons and resources to foster deep conceptual and procedural knowledge.

• Practice and consolidation play a central role. Carefully designed variation within this builds fluency and understanding of underlying mathematical concepts in tandem.

• Teachers use precise questioning in class to test conceptual and procedural knowledge, and assess pupils regularly to identify those requiring intervention so that all pupils keep up.


The intention of these approaches is to provide all children with full access to the curriculum, enabling them to achieve confidence and competence – ‘mastery’ – in mathematics, rather than many failing to develop the maths skills they need for the future. ‘National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics’.


Key features of the mastery approach


Curriculum design

Our maths curriculum is mapped out across all phases, ensuring continuity and supporting transition. The maths curriculum is designed in relatively small carefully sequenced steps, which must each be mastered before our pupils move to the next stage. It is important that fundamental skills and knowledge are secured first. This often entails focusing on curriculum content in considerable depth at early stages.


Teaching resources

Concrete and pictorial representations of mathematics are chosen carefully to help build procedural and conceptual knowledge together.

The focus is on the development of deep structural knowledge and the ability to make connections. Making connections in mathematics deepens knowledge of concepts and procedures, ensures what is learnt is sustained over time, and cuts down the time required to assimilate and master later concepts and techniques.


Teaching methods

Pupils work on the same tasks and engage in common discussions. Concepts are often explored together to make mathematical relationships explicit and strengthen pupils’ understanding of mathematical connectivity.

Precise questioning during lessons ensures that pupils develop fluent technical proficiency and think deeply about the underpinning mathematical concepts. There is no prioritisation between technical proficiency and conceptual understanding; in successful classrooms these two key aspects of mathematical learning are developed in parallel.


Pupil support and differentiation

Taking a mastery approach, differentiation occurs in the support and intervention provided to different pupils, not in the topics taught, particularly at earlier stages. There is little or no differentiation in content taught, but the questioning and scaffolding individual pupils receive in class as they work through problems will differ, with higher attainers challenged through more demanding problems which deepen their knowledge of the same content. Pupils’ difficulties and misconceptions are identified through immediate formative assessment and addressed with rapid intervention – commonly through individual or small group work.


Please use the links below to download a copy of our 2 PowerPoint Presentations showing our approach to teaching calculation strategies in school.