Mr M Larcombe – Maths Lead

Being a competent mathematician is a vital skill for life. Whether it’s deciding on a phone contract, budgeting for a family or working out the exchange rate on holiday and how much that boat trip will actually cost, maths impacts on our lives every day. But beyond that, there is also a beauty in maths: for many, the thrill of finding a solution outweighs the challenge of the process. A love of maths will open up a whole range of careers from engineers to architects, research scientists to designers; accountants to meteorologists.

With this in mind, at Hillfort we hate the thought that, nationally, too many children are left behind and made to feel that maths isn’t for them – a view often reinforced by adults around them who may also have struggled with maths when they were at school. At Hillfort, we aim to break this cycle. We do this by instilling confidence through competence, ensuring that children not only feel success in a lesson, but also retain that success through effective recap and deliberate practice.

What does a maths lesson look like?

Our maths lessons start with daily fluency which includes both mental and written maths calculations. Practising mathematical methods every day, not only helps children to improve their speed and accuracy, but also frees up working memory when they have to calculate in a problem-solving situation.

After daily fluency, teachers will go through any vocabulary that may be a barrier to understanding the content of the lesson. Then, children look back at their previous learning step to ensure that they know what they are building on.

Following this, the teacher will model the content of the lesson. They ensure that they use useful conceptual images and talk through their thinking so that children have a clear understanding of the learning. The teacher then practices step-by-step with the children, guiding them to early success, building confidence as they go. Before children move onto practising independently, the teacher will ask an assess question which will search for misconceptions and common errors. If children are not confident with the assess question they will have more guided practice with the teacher before moving they move into independent practice.

At the end of the lesson, the teachers will look at the class as a whole and decide whether they are ready to move on or whether more instruction or practice is required to enable the next step to build on secure understanding.

This can be summed up in our MAPA teaching model: a mastery approach.

We also ensure that when we are planning, we break the learning down into small steps and make sure that children have mastered each step before we move on. Our teachers are constantly talking through next steps with their colleagues and regularly use the Mastery CPD materials written by the NCETM (National Centre for Excellence in Teaching Mathematics).

This gives even the least confident children a feeling that today’s lesson is manageable – and slowly, lesson-by-lesson, before they know it, they start to enjoy maths and begin to believe that maths is for them after all.