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☰ Did you fully master the techniques of Maths?

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Headteacher Blog

Did you fully master the techniques of Maths?

Posted on: 03 Oct 2019 by Weston Green School

Thank you to all those who attended the Vision, Values and Priorities sessions last week. It was wonderful to see so many of you there and to hear your interest in the initiatives we are taking forward over the course of this year.

One such development is the introduction of a ‘mastery’ approach to the teaching of mathematics. This approach has several key aspects to it to enable all our pupils to master their mathematical understanding. You may remember, as a child, learning a technique or quick trick for maths in order to calculate or solve a problem. If we forgot that technique, we were left not knowing how we can begin to resolve the problem. Often we were taught these without any real understanding of how we were manipulating numbers and why we were doing this - it was merely a means to obtain the ‘right’ answer.

The outcome of this is that we were left with gaps in our knowledge, not secure enough with the fundamentals of how the number system operates, the relationships between numbers and calculations and how these can apply to different situations. We hadn’t fully mastered our mathematical understanding.

A mastery approach believes fundamentally that all children are capable of succeeding in mathematics. Teaching is structured in small steps, providing a scaffold for all to achieve whilst developing the detail and rigour of all aspects of a strategy to facilitate deep thinking. Small steps are connected and concepts are built enabling children to apply their understanding across multiple contexts and solve problems more easily. Teaching maths for mastery is a transformational approach to maths teaching, which stems from high performing  Asian nations such as Singapore. When taught to master maths, children develop their mathematical fluency without resorting to rote learning and are able to solve non-routine maths problems without having to memorise procedures.

A key element of this is to ensure that children experience multiple representations of each concept, so they will see this using practical apparatus, using pictures, graphs or diagrams and only then explore how this looks in mathematical terms, in written calculations.

Children build a strong fluency and deep understanding as they study each topic more deeply over a longer period. This enables deep learning rather than a shallow experience that is not retained.

The research around this approach is strong and demonstrates that children grow to become confident and secure mathematicians who enjoy their learning. 

Over the course of this year, our maths leaders, Miss. Coates (Year 2) and Mr. Beal (Year 4), will be undertaking work with a group of local mastery specialists from other schools, observing and developing their practice and leading this approach for our own staff team. We will keep you in touch with how this approach is developing and will also be arranging a Maths Evening for parents in the Spring term where you will be able to learn more about our work in this area. We look forward to sharing this exciting new development with you!

Mrs. Evans

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