When schools finally reopen to everyone, the focus will be all about enabling children to catch-up. There are implications for every part of the curriculum, but of course the core subjects will be top of the agenda.

Here are 5 talking points related to mathematics.

1. “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get”

This well-known quote from Alice In Wonderland could not be more apt as we can all understand the temptation to cover as much of the maths curriculum in as short a time as possible.

However, Debbie Morgan (Primary Advisor at NCETM) gave a great piece of advice at a recent White Rose Maths Brunch. The phrase she used was, “slow down to catch up”.

Debbie made the case that it is counterproductive to rush children’s mathematical learning as this will simply store up problems for the future. We do not want to go backwards.

Choose and plan for the most important topics as absolute priorities and do not try to do everything.

2. The Latest DFE Mathematics Guidance

With the need for prioritisation in mind, this document, published in July 2020 has been incredibly timely. It was planned way before the pandemic but identifies the most important areasfrom the National Curriculum and enables learning to be more focused.

The guidance is non-statutory but intended to be a source of support for all primary schools.

Guidance is broken down into year groups 1 – 6 and into 6 strands:

  • Number and Place Value
  • Number Facts
  • Addition and Subtraction
  • Multiplication and Dvision
  • Fractions
  • Geometry

Each year group chapter includes ‘Ready to progress criteria’ and assessment questions to help teachers glean whether children have enough understanding to be able to do well at the next year group level.

3. Use consitstent representations

One important element to think about as a school is how you choose and use the best and most consistent mathematical representations across the year groups. Is there consistency as children move classes? Do the representations support children’s understanding in the best way and help them to transfer and connect learning or do they confuse?

The same representations, such as the cherry model, bar models and tens frames shown below, can be used to introduce ever more challenging concepts.

Part-Part-Whole TrayFoam Magnetic Bar Model SetTen Frame Trays

Here are a few examples from TTS to demonstrate how tens frames and place value counters may be used across year groups.

4. Join a Maths Hub

There are 40 Maths Hubs across England with the aim of helping schools lead improvement and of spreading excellent practice. They are coordinated by the NCETM.

If you are not already a member, find your nearest maths hub here https://www.ncetm.org.uk/maths-hubs/find-your-hub/

In these challenging times, it is so important to stay connected and be able to talk with other like-minded professionals, as well as keeping up to date with CPD.

5. Essential Manipulatives

Well-chosen manipulatives can be a great help in bridging the gap between the concrete and the abstract, as well as engaging children in their learning. Consider whether your resources need updating. Here are four examples of what might be called the ‘essentials’:

Snap CubesNumiconPlace Value CountersBase Ten