There has been a lot to celebrate in maths over recent weeks. The week started with a huge number of My Best certificates recognising the exceptional effort and achievement of children across the school, ‘striving to use bar modelling to solve addition and subtraction word problems’, ‘investigating prime numbers’, ‘ enjoying the use of a range of mathematical strategies’ etc.
The assembly ended with awards for the Primary Maths Challenge. A group of Year 5 and 6 pupils participate in this national competition where they tackle questions that need ‘out of the box’ thinking and logical reasoning. This year, Gateway children achieving phenomenal results with 16 gold, 12 silver and 13 bronze awards. The names of the gold certificate winners are forwarded for participation in the Bonus Round in February.
Part of becoming a resilient mathematician is learning to recognise what it feels like to be stuck, and what strategies can be useful in getting yourself unstuck. To ensure that all children develop into competent, confident mathematicians they must experience mathematical struggle, in a supportive setting, throughout their time in school. They appreciate that being stuck is normal and an important part of problem solving.
We aim frequently in lessons to set tasks that are ‘Low Threshold, High Ceiling tasks’ designed for all children to access a problem with numerous built-in extension opportunities. This means that everyone can potentially reach a point where they don't immediately know what to do next, and they can start to develop their resilience and develop efficient strategies The new maths they then learn becomes instantly more meaningful and relevant.
As discussion is such an important part of maths lessons, children are required to share their learning; explain and justify their thinking; and adapt or develop their own approach. Everyone has a chance to hear how others in the classroom have worked on the same activity in different ways. It is always Impressive to see Gateway children bubble with enthusiasm as they volunteer to come to the front of the class and share their thinking.
The focus on mastery in maths teaching and learning has been a huge focus for the school over the last year. The introduction of Power Maths in Reception and KeyStage 1 has been hugely successful with children now investigating independently maths concepts using a range of visual representations. This ensures learning is long-term and solid foundations are laid for future work. The use of bar modelling has provided pictorial means of interpreting word problems. Further Inset from a leading authority on mastery, Mark McCourt, on 6 January will be attended by representatives from other Bellevue schools and aims to further embed learning.
New initiatives next year will include an NSPCC number day where children will take part in a range of maths activities and house events. World Maths Day on 4 March is an exciting opportunity to work alongside other children from around the globe, sharing in the universal language of maths!