All our students are encouraged in the belief that by working hard at mathematics, they can succeed and no one views making mistakes as failure but as a valuable opportunity for new learning. We reject the idea that a large proportion of people ‘just can’t do mathematics’. Our department is involved in the GlowMathsHub work groups and the principles of TfM (Teaching for Mastery) are a key feature of our department.
Mastering mathematics means developing procedural fluency and conceptual understanding in tandem, since each supports the other. Students learn with a high level of teacher-student and student-student interaction where everyone in the class are thinking about, working on and discussing the same mathematical content. We provide challenge and the opportunity to deepen understanding of the key mathematical ideas through reasoning and problem solving tasks. These tasks allow students to make useful connections between key mathematical ideas.
Our students recognise that when they are willing to invest effort and time in mathematics and persist at trying to solve problems the learning that took place in the lesson will be remembered in future lessons.
Implementation and Sequencing in Mathematics
Mathematics is an interconnected subject in which students need to be able to move fluently between representations of mathematical ideas (DfE, 2014).
Although we have organised our five-year mathematics program of study into 14 key themes, they have been sequenced in such a way that one theme builds on the next and allows connections to be made. It is important not to perceive each theme as isolated but as an opportunity to build on the previous learning and for subsequent learning to incorporate aspects of current learning. We call this interleaving practice. Evidence has shown that encouraging interleaving practice enables better long-term retention (Robert Bjork, goCognative, July 2014). Within each topic we design tasks that help students make rich connections across mathematical ideas, develop fluency, mathematical reasoning and competence in solving increasingly sophisticated problems. We think carefully about the sequencing of that topic and look into other things students will need to know.
An important element of secure and deep learning is revisiting the key concepts and adding new information, which links and connects to prior schemata (Myatt, 2018, p. 66). We facilitate this in three ways. Firstly, we deliver an aspect of the 14 themes every year, revisiting and building upon the key mathematical ideas within those themes, secondly we have designed our homework booklets to cover key concepts from previous years and thirdly low stakes retrieval practice on prior learning begins each lesson.
Our expectation is that the majority of pupils will move through our programmes of study at broadly the same pace. However, we always base this decision on the security of students’ understanding and their readiness to progress to the next stage. We challenge students who grasp concepts rapidly by offering rich and sophisticated problems before any acceleration through new content. Those who are not sufficiently fluent with earlier material are encouraged to consolidate their understanding, including through additional practice, before moving on.
Not only do we believe that every student has an entitlement to study mathematics but that it is a subject that has many intrinsically interesting facets that when learned can be extremely emancipatory for them. Mathematics has a real role to play in life. We recognise that students without knowledge and understanding of mathematics will have worse life chances than those that do (Tim Oates, Powerful Knowledge and the National Curriculum, March 2014).
We teach mathematical concepts, content and procedures that embed and build upon mathematical learning from KS2 and provide a strong foundation for further academic and vocational study and for employment. Students leave us at the end of year 11 with the appropriate mathematical skills, knowledge and understanding to help them progress to a full range of courses in further and higher education.
We have elected to assess students using GCSE grades, in all year groups. Students sit an Edexcel GCSE paper, modified as appropriate, on a regular basis, in a formal setting. This regular on-going assessment provides both teacher and student with information regarding current attainment and the ‘learning gaps’ that may exist. When students complete an assessment, they use Pinpoint Learning to analyse their individual learning gaps. Each student has a tracking grid to track their progress from their first assessment in year 7 right through to year 11. In Year 11, students enter for either the ‘Higher’ or the ‘Foundation’ Edexcel GCSE examination. We aim to enable students to achieve their full potential in external examinations so that they can continue to study mathematics further.
- Ms. K. Bennett
- Mr S. Day
- Miss H. Hutchinson
- Mr G. Kane
- Mrs K. Jadwat
- Mr G. Lewis
- Mrs S. Stanton
- Mrs C. Taiwo
- Mrs E. Thomas