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How we Teach Mathematics at St Gabriel’s Primary School

Mathematics at St Gabriel’s Primary School

 St Gabriel’s Primary School is following the National Curriculum for Mathematics in Key Stage 1 and 2.


Follow this link to see the curriculum in more detail:

Mathematics programmes of study: key stages 1 and 2 (

or look at the ‘I can’ statements for each year group.

 St Gabriel’s teaches the National Curriculum informed by the ‘White Rose Small Steps Mastery Scheme of Work’. This scheme uses whole class, mastery teaching and moves the children on in very small steps so that all children can achieve their age-related expectations.


Mastery teaching involves using concrete resources, pictorial representations and finally moving to abstract representations of maths. They are encouraged to make small steps, to make links with what they already know, to use stem sentences to talk about their learning in more detail, to use variation and fluency to cement and practice their learning and then to reason with their knowledge to achieve greater depth within a concept rather than moving on to new material before full understanding is reached.


See this link for more info about mastery teaching:


And this one for more information about the White Rose Scheme including long term plans and information and guides for parents:

In conjunction with our maths hub and the NCETM, we are also taking part in a project called ‘Mastering Number’ this year which will involve our Reception and KS1 children in using REKENREKs (a small abacus) that will help them to cement those early numbers facts that they need to know, without counting on their fingers, in order to achieve fluency. With increased fluency, their working memory is freed up to work on new concepts and procedures later on.


You can learn more about this project using this link if you wish: Mastering Number | NCETM


The IMPACT of the mastery approach is to ensure that all pupils achieve their potential in mathematics. The aim is that they all achieve age-related expectations.


Aims of the National Curriculum

 The National Curriculum for Mathematics aims to ensure that all pupils:

  • become fluent in the fundamentals of mathematics, including through varied and frequent practice with increasingly complex problems over time, so that pupils develop conceptual understanding and the ability to recall and apply knowledge rapidly and accurately.
  • reason mathematically by following a line of enquiry, conjecturing relationships and generalisations, and developing an argument, justification or proof using mathematical language.
  • can solve problems by applying their mathematics to a variety of routine and non-routine problems with increasing sophistication, including breaking down problems into a series of simpler steps and persevering in seeking solutions.


Our INTENT is to provide pupils with the fluency and confidence to carry out a range of mathematical problems and solve them by utilising reasoning skills in each and every lesson. Pupils at St Gabriel’s display positive approaches to maths and display attitudes that embrace challenge. We have been on our Mastery journey for a number of years now, resulting in improved outcomes across the school. We are continually striving to improve outcomes further for all our pupils so they can achieve the aims of the National Curriculum: Fluency – Reasoning – Problem Solving.


The following elements are important facets of our IMPLEMENTATION of the mathematics curriculum at St Gabriel’s


Ethos and Growth Mindset

Instilling all our pupils with a 'growth mindset' during maths lessons is a key priority for our school. In maths lessons children are expected to relish challenges; embrace their mistakes as part of the learning process; value the importance of effort; respond carefully to feedback and take inspiration from others. We believe in challenge and expect pupils to respond to it. Please help us by being positive about your own skills and capacity to learn in maths.


Sequenced small steps

We teach mathematics by designing a coherent journey (supported primarily by White Rose Maths) through each Mathematical domain, taking into consideration formative assessment of what the children already know (and crucially what they don’t). Elicitation tasks are carefully designed by the teachers at the start of maths unit to inform this planning cycle. Teachers then plan in advance the models, visuals and manipulatives that will be used to scaffold children who may struggle to grasp the concepts and ‘Greater Depth’ questions for those who grasp them quickly. Sequences will be altered and adapted on a daily basis as a result of on children’s grasp of the concept.


Depth of learning

 We have ensured that teachers are aware of and cater for the need for depth of learning as an essential part of maths. Lessons build on mathematical concepts across a time period and teachers make links across mathematical topics and are continuing to develop conceptual and procedural variation in their teaching to maximise clarity and depth of learning.



We have recognised the need for increased mental fluency and arithmetic skill in our children and have timetabled additional time and invested in mathematical resources to achieve this. We call our additional revision time ‘KFC’ which stands for ‘Key Facts Check’ (this is where we use ‘Mastering Number’ and the REKENREKs in KS1 – see above. We understand that reasoning is a key part of mental fluency and have tailored these sessions to allow teachers to pro-actively teach an aspect of number on a daily basis and promote discussion/build conceptual understanding. During these sessions, as well as during the main lesson, we believe that by giving the children the opportunity to expand on their thinking and building in opportunities to share reasoning they will deepen and develop their conceptual understanding as well as making connections between number facts and develop fluency in their work with numbers and calculations.


CPA Approach  - from the concrete, to the pictorial, to the abstract.

This model permeates all maths teaching at St Gabriel’s. The links made in maths lessons are explicit and focus on concrete (real world) examples, concrete resources called manipulative, visual representations and then the abstract (symbols and numbers) coming together to solve problems in context. We believe children develop deep understanding through using these elements together to develop into a fluent and proficient mathematician. Later, children may be asked to use manipulatives to prove to a teacher or another child that they have an answer correct. They may also be asked to ‘explain it in another way’. This requires a ‘Greater Depth’ of learning and is never time wasted. 


Lesson Structure

All lessons will begin with an ‘Anchor Task’ a contextualised problem which children solve with their maths partner or with the whole class. This encourages discussion and collaborative learning from the start whilst encouraging children to draw upon previous learning and make connections. Representations will appear in books as children show their understanding, rather than answers to a series of calculations. The use of manipulatives, pictorial representations and recording takes place in every lesson (the CPA approach).


Mastery approach

Lessons are designed to incorporate the 5 big ideas of Mastery: coherence, representation and structure, mathematical thinking, fluency, and variation. See link above for more information about mastery teaching.



Teachers will use questioning throughout maths lessons to elicit children’s understanding and promote and challenge children to greater and deeper understanding of concepts. A variety of questions are used, but you will also hear some being repeated; How do you know? Can you prove it? Are you sure?  Is that right? What’s the same/different about? Can you explain that? What does your partner think? Can you imagine? Children are expected to listen to each other’s responses and may be asked to explain someone else’s ideas in their own words, or if they agree/disagree. Maths sessions are expected to be discursive and the teachers use questioning to probe pupil understanding. Responses are expected in full sentences using mathematical vocabulary.


Challenge for ‘rapid graspers’ (Greater Depth Challenges)

Teachers have been supported to provide challenge for the ‘rapid graspers’ in class. These challenges are woven through the lesson rather than bolt on activities at the end of a lesson and build upon the core lesson activities. The challenges are available for all children as progress can be different depending on the concept being taught. The challenge focuses on breadth and depth of understanding and expects the children to apply their knowledge in challenging scenarios rather than moving on to the content for the next year group. Children may be asked to use manipulatives to prove to a teacher or another child that they have an answer correct. They may also be asked to ‘explain it in another way’. This requires a ‘Greater Depth’ of learning and is never time wasted. 



All work is marked. Teachers and TAs aim to ‘live mark’ during the lesson so immediate feedback can be provided. This also allows teachers to adjust lessons accordingly and address misconceptions rapidly. If verbal interaction or support has been provided, this is indicated in the books using symbols outlined in our Marking Policy. Written questions provided by the Teacher/TA are expected to require a response from the pupil and will consolidate their thinking or encourage them to make progress. Peer or self-marking will also be evident in books.


SEND Pupils

SEND pupils may be supported by additional adults, different resources or by using differentiated activities.


NB: We have high expectations of all children and strongly believe that all children are able to learn mathematics. Some may take longer to grasp concepts and may need careful scaffolding or extra time/support (guided groups, pre-teaching, intervention groups).