When we teach maths we take what’s known as a mastery approach. This means pupils revisit the same core areas throughout their schooling, so they can achieve a level of knowledge which gives them greater capabilities in the subject.
It’s an approach which puts depth of knowledge ahead of breadth of knowledge. By teaching maths consistently, from EYFS through to KS4, as children move through the school they’re able to grasp the fundamentals and build on them, every time they revisit the topic. The way we teach is constantly tested, evaluated and modified to achieve the best results. This ensures our lessons are taught with evidence-based methods, and it also gives teachers the freedom to try new things.
At our school we have a ‘talk for learning’ ethos, which means we want a lot of conversation about maths in our lessons. A key technique we use to encourage this is the Agree, Build, Challenge (ABC) model. For ‘Agree’, we give students two answers and they have to say which they agree with, then explain their rationale to justify their answer. ‘Build’ requires the teacher to ask a student to build upon another student’s answer, elaborating or giving new information. ‘Challenge’ involves the teacher asking a student whether they would like to challenge each other’s answers and opinions in a positive and constructive way. This all leads to better discussion and thinking.
Having a strong foundation in maths gives a pupil a good advantage when they come to the more advanced topics at secondary school. From when they first join us, we build pupils’ mathematics vocabulary so they become confident in the use of maths terms such as coefficient, highest common factor and lowest common denominator. This helps pupils to have easier conversations around the subject and better success answering examination questions when they reach their GCSEs.
The most recent progress 8 score at Ipswich Academy, the Paradigm secondary school, was a strong +0.29 and Key Stage 3 attainment is above the national average. The number of students achieving between level 4 and level 9 at Key Stage 4 is also increasing. Across the five Paradigm Trust primaries, 71% of pupils are attaining level 4+ and 53.7% are working at 5+. These outcomes are solid proof that this approach is delivering great results for our pupils.