Support for teachers and teaching assistants to develop subject knowledge

Mathematics mastery is recognised increasingly as an essential life skill. Mathematics is critical to science, technology and engineering, and necessary for financial literacy and most forms of employment. Skills in mathematics and reasoning are therefore crucial for children to achieve in order to lead rewarding and successful lives.

The following themes give an indication of the range of work delivered by our specialists based on key Ofsted findings, the latest initiatives and current national and international research.

Fluency in Mental Mathematics

International mathematics research has highlighted the need for a renewed emphasis on the mastering of mental mathematics skills. Recent initiatives focusing on the practices in Singapore and Shanghai, China have inspired our work on developing mental fluency. Through INSET or staff meeting time, team teaching and lesson study approaches, our Primary Team specialists are able to support teachers and teaching assistants with:

  • research-based ideas for helping children improve, retain and apply their number skills
  • practical resources for helping children visualise number facts
  • the development of mental mathematics 'non-negotiables' for each year group to raise expectations and ensure a consistent, whole-school approach

Arithmetic Proficiency

In light of the raised expectations in the new primary mathematics curriculum, and with the increased emphasis on arithmetic proficiency in number, calculation and fractions for both the Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 tests in 2016, our Primary Team specialists offer professional development in key areas of subject knowledge:

  • using manipulatives (place value counters/base ten materials) to develop conceptual understanding of written methods (addition, subtraction, short multiplication and short division)
  • proportional reasoning - using resources (including Cuisenaire rods) to develop conceptual understanding when manipulating fractions
  • developing a calculation policy to ensure whole-school consistency in approaches to arithmetic

Reasoning and Problem Solving

Reasoning and problem solving (along with fluency) form the main aims of the new primary mathematics curriculum. Schools are focusing increasingly on the 'talk-for-learning' agenda in mathematics and looking to develop their children's ability to present a justification and form conjectures about relationships or generalisations. The Primary Team offers professional development to cover the following:

  • developing the language of reasoning
  • learning from mistakes (using 'discussion mats')
  • making rich connections across mathematical ideas

The Singapore Bar

The new curriculum requires children to solve a variety of routine and non-routine problems with increasing sophistication. International research focusing on Singapore's success in mathematics has highlighted a key attribute: its use of the bar model for helping children make sense of number problems. The Singapore bar model has great potential for empowering children to tackle sophisticated problems as it makes visible the steps and operations required to solve them. The Primary Team offers tailored support to help teachers and teaching assistants introduce the model to children of all ages:

  • half-day or whole-day INSET
  • series of staff meetings with gap tasks
  • modelling lessons and team teaching
  • lesson study

Assessing Mathematics

With the renewed emphasis on assessment that ensures children know their achievements against essential learning outcomes and their next steps for making progress, the Primary Team offers professional development to cover the following:

  • tracking progress across milestones in mental arithmetic, written calculation and other key areas of the mathematics curriculum
  • supporting teachers to use trackers or 'learning ladders' effectively, ensuring targeted support is provided for children when needed and giving parents clear information about their child's performance and progress
  • improving feedback and marking in mathematics