Mathematics is one of the most important subjects in the curriculum. Maths is a tool which unlocks a wide range of activities and is essential for adult life. It enhances the ability to think in a systematic and logical way.
At Brookland Infant School and Nursery we are committed to the Mastery Maths philosophy that is for all children to develop a secure understanding of mathematical concepts and processes, combined with genuine fluency when completing calculations.
What does Maths Mastery mean?
Since the introduction of Mastery in Mathematics, there has been a lot of confusion over what this actually means. Below we have detailed out the basics for you, to help you understand this concept.
Mastering Maths means acquiring a deep, long-term, secure and adaptable understanding of the subject. At any one point in a child’s journey through school, achieving mastery is taken to mean acquiring a solid enough understanding of the maths that’s been taught to enable them move on to more advanced material.
Some people confuse mastery with Greater Depth. This is not the case, they are two very different things. All children in our school have access to a Mastery curriculum which is based on the idea of ensuring all children have 'mastered' their Mathematics and secured a deepened understanding (as mentioned above). Greater Depth refers to children who show a higher level of understanding for an area or aspect of learning and are able to challenge themselves further with new concepts and ideas.
Since the introduction of the Mastery approach, we have adapted our Teaching and Learning to follow the new developments and our Policies coincide with this. At Brookland Infant and Nursery School we follow the White Rose Maths scheme and the NCETM.
What is White Rose?
The White Rose scheme (recommended by the Department of Education) has been carefully chosen by us. White Rose is a UK curriculum mastery programme designed to spark curiosity and excitement and nurture confidence in maths. It provides high quality Maths planning and lesson sequences to ensure consistency across the school. This supports the aims and objectives of the National Curriculum, embracing the underlying principle of the mastery approach. A series of ‘small steps’ have been constructed for each area of mathematics in order for all children to build a solid foundation of deep mathematical understanding. For each year group, the curriculum is broken down into core concepts, taught in units. A unit divides into smaller learning steps. Step by step, strong foundations of knowledge, skills and understanding are built.
The Calculations Policy sets out the guidelines that teachers follow in teaching the four calculations to children. As the children progress through the school, they will learn new ways of solving problems using a variety of different methods. This is to give all children the opportunity to find a process that works best for them.
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
If taught ideas are to be understood deeply, they must not merely be passively received but must be worked on by the student: thought about, reasoned with and discussed with others.
Quick and efficient recall of facts and procedures and the flexibility to move
between different contexts and representations of mathematics.
Varying the way a concept is initially presented to students, by giving examples that
display a concept as well as those that don’t display it. Also, carefully varying
practise questions so that mechanical repetition is avoided, and thinking is
When introducing new concepts, we use the concrete, pictorial, abstract approach in order to embed understanding and build competency.
Concrete – children have the opportunity to use concrete objects and manipulatives e.g. numicon, cubes, counters to help them understand what they are doing.
Pictorial – Children use pictorial representations. The representations can then be used help reason and solve problems.
Abstract – both concrete and pictorial representations support children’s understanding of abstract methods.
In Reception and Key Stage 1, in addition to Mathematics lessons, children also take part in ‘Number Sense’ sessions. Fluency and accuracy of key mathematics skills are developed during these sessions and provide an opportunity to revisit and review previously taught topics and the fundamentals of maths. These short 10 minute sessions are focused on developing children’s automatic number fluency skills e.g. one more and one less, 2/5/10 times table, number bonds to 10/20 etc.