How we sequence learning in mathematics

We teach mathematics for Mastery at Grimley and Holt.

Mastering maths means pupils of all ages acquiring a deep, long-term, secure and adaptable understanding of the subject. The phrase ‘teaching for mastery’ describes the elements of classroom practice and school organisation that combine to give pupils the best chances of mastering maths.

Achieving mastery means acquiring a solid enough understanding of the maths that’s been taught to enable pupils to move on to more advanced material. They can only do this if they have acquired all of the prerequisites, in terms of knowledge and skills, before moving on to more advanced objectives and applying what they have learnt in different contexts.

The National curriculum is organised into yearly objectives. This has the aim of establishing fluency, the generalisation of concepts, building of mental models and strategies, connecting concepts and being able to apply their understanding contextually. Pupils work through these stages to build a firm understanding of the objectives for each year group.

Like many small schools, the children at Grimley and Holt work in mixed year groups. There are a number of ways that the Maths mastery curriculum can be taught in such settings. Our approach involves employing a rolling programme where both year groups within a class work toward the same objectives and, when in the final year of each class, children spend more time consolidating and applying the knowledge that they learnt in the previous year. This allows us to cover the national curriculum and ensure that there is a personalised approach, where children learn collaboratively, at their own pace, to consolidate their understanding. An overview showing how we arrange learning in each stand is shown below.

Class overviews

Sequences of learning run through our curriculum. We apply strand based progression maps for each pupil. This helps us to develop the children’s mastery by keeping track of any areas that they need to focus on, or develop as they approach new areas. An example of this is shown below. We also use this principle for whole cohorts, making sure that we build on the foundations of their understanding by revisiting earlier parts of the curriculum, and using formative assessment approaches- such as NC/NCETM ‘Ready to progress’ criteria- before challenging groups with the next stage.

Example: Children’s progression in subtraction

Pupils need to be secure at each stage, and build on from what they have learnt. For instance, if children cannot use ones and tens to subtract, or do not have a good grounding in number facts, they would not be able to grasp how written subtraction works and, ultimately, they would find it more difficult to gain the automaticity needed for compact written methods of subtraction. Our written subtraction sequence can be seen below.

Skills sequences for each strand

When monitoring the learning sequence, its important to know  what each pupil has learnt in previous year groups or classes, found hard or excelled in. This helps us ensure that the curriculum is as personalised as possible, learning is differentiated and children are challenged to progress. Examples of the skills progressions that we employ are given below:

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