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.


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