Mastering Maths at Scremerston First School

Maths is integral to everyday life so at Scremerston First School our ambition is to instil a love of Maths through a high quality, rich and varied curriculum where all children are challenged to think deeper, make connections and develop their reasoning skills. We believe that Mathematical success is not measured by ability and that all children have the potential to ‘go deeper’ and broaden their understanding of mathematical concepts which will provide them with the skills to be successful now…and in the future.


At Scremerston First School Maths is taught on a daily basis through a mastery approach. 


What is mastery?

Mastering maths means pupils acquiring a deep, long-term, secure and adaptable understanding of the subject.

The phrase ‘teaching for mastery’ describes the elements of classroom practice and school organisation that combine to give pupils the best chances of mastering maths.

Achieving mastery means acquiring a solid enough understanding of the maths that’s been taught to enable pupils to move on to more advanced material.


The 5 big ideas of a mastery approach

Lessons are broken down into small connected steps that gradually unfold the concept, providing access for all children and leading to a generalisation of the concept and the ability to apply the concept to a range of contexts.

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 representation

Mathematical Thinking
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

Variation is twofold. It is firstly about how the teacher represents the concept being taught, often in more than one way, to draw attention to critical aspects, and to develop deep and holistic understanding. It is also about the sequencing of the episodes, activities and exercises used within a lesson and follow up practice, paying attention to what is kept the same and what changes, to connect the mathematics and draw attention to mathematical relationships and structure.

Concrete, pictorial and abstract approach (CPA)

Our maths is based around the concrete, pictorial, abstract (CPA) which is a highly effective approach to teaching that develops a deep and sustainable understanding of maths.  We believe that children’s chances of succeeding in education and life will be maximised if they develop deep and lasting procedural and conceptual mathematical understanding. 

 We are aware that children can maths difficult because it is often abstract. The CPA approach helps children learn new ideas and build on their existing knowledge by introducing abstract concepts in a more familiar and tangible way.


An overview to the CPA approach

Reasoning and problem solving

Reasoning and problem solving opportunities are embedded within every maths lesson in the form of "chilli" challenges. Our youngest children are introduced to reasoning through challenges which develop the understanding of vocabulary such as odd one out or true and false which they are later able to apply to a maths context. 

Maths Policy

Below is our Maths policy which outlines in more detail how Maths is taught at Scremerston First School.

 Maths Policy.odtDownload
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Calculation Policy

Our Maths calculation policy provides further information of the progressive approaches to teaching maths using a concrete, pictorial and abstract approach. 

 Calculation Policy.docxDownload
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Class and key Stage Overviews

Maths is taught in mixed ability classes. Elm Class (reception), Oak class (Year 1 and 2) and Ash Class (Year 3 and 4). Lessons are blocked into units of work which are taught in small sequential steps. Within each lesson there are opportunities for reasoning, problem solving and application through spicy and chilli challenges. Below are our early overviews for each class in addition to an whole school overview showing the progression of skills across the primary age range. 

 Ash Clss KS2 Maths Overview.odtDownload
 Elm Class Early Years Maths Overview.docxDownload
 Maths Progression Grid.docxDownload
 Oak Class KS1 Maths Overview.odtDownload
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Maths Recovery Curriculum 2020

Our newly adapted long-term overviews take in to account learning objectives missed and those that need revising, within this we have referred to the DfE Mathematics Guidance to ensure all pre-requisites are covered during our mathematics lessons.

 2020 Ash Class Overview.odtDownload
 2020 Early Years Maths Overview.docxDownload
 2020 Oak Class Maths Overview.odtDownload
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Our Maths Curriculum in Practice

Place Value

Our Year 4 children getting to grips with 4 digit numbers by using place value counters. Concrete equipment allows all children to gain a deeper understanding before moving on to pictorial and abstract concepts.  


In order to ensure a build up of skills and full curriculum coverage children across the school take part in geometry and data and measure lessons every Thursday and Friday. Our Year 4 children completed their properties of shape unit by constructing 3d shape models using straws and plasticine. They created cubes, cuboids, triangular based pyramids, square based pyramids, triangular prisms and were able to describe the faces, vertices and edges. We even had a pentagonal prism and a hexagonal prism.  

Place Value 

Our Year 2 and 3 children comparing 2 and 3 digit numbers using the concrete, pictorial and abstract approach. 

Year one comparing amounts to 10

Reception exploring number bond to 5 snails