Mathematics at St Thomas More
At St Thomas More, we use the Mastery Approach in teaching maths. As part of this approach, we embed the use of Concrete, Pictorial, Abstract (CPA) concepts, to develop a deep and sustainable understanding of mathematical concepts. The Concrete stage is the ‘doing’ of maths, which often involves the use of concrete objects to model problems. Once this is secure, we progress to the ‘seeing’ stage – Pictorial. This is when visual representations of concrete objects are used to model problems. This stage encourages children to make a mental connection between the physical object they just handled and the abstract pictures, diagrams or models that represent the objects from the problem. The final stage, Abstract, is the ‘symbolic’ stage, where children use abstract symbols to model problems. Although CPA is presented here as three distinct stages, we will often go back and forth between each stage to reinforce concepts.
Mathematics teaching is wherever possible linked to real-life situations such as shopping and is linked to the ILP being studied so that children quickly see relevance and the way in which mathematics skills are essential to our daily lives. Wherever possible, practical hands on activities are used to help children with their understanding of the more abstract signs and symbols which go with the subject. Our children follow the National Curriculum for Mathematics requirements in their daily Mathematics lessons and also have daily maths skills sessions following the concepts of Big Maths – Counting, Learn It’s, It’s Nothing New and Calculation (CLIC). This programme reinforces basic number facts, applies existing knowledge to unknown concepts and develops strategies for problem solving. The results are excellent and the barriers to Maths can be broken down. The children are regularly assessed so that any gaps in their learning are able to be plugged quickly.
They focus on the basic skills as well as having a weekly problem solving lesson where they are able to apply their learning. Children also engage in a range of Mental Maths activities and are encouraged to learn their times tables facts at home to support the learning that they do in school.