Mathematics at Farnborough Grange
At Farnborough Grange we centre our vision around the ‘Farnborough Grange Champion Learner,’ the child who has been given vast opportunities and has a strong love for learning, leading to them achieving their very best. With our ‘Champion Learner’ at the forefront of our minds, we endeavour to prepare children in the best way possible for the life they are living now and for the life that awaits them in the future. Our aim is to immerse them in experiences, wherever possible, so that they develop useable skills for life outside of school.
We want our ‘Champion Learners’ to understand that Mathematics is not just about being able to recite facts that demonstrate fluency when requested, but is something that is embedded in nearly everything that we do; looking at the time and working out how many minutes until bed time, counting how many more bites of their dinner they need to eat before they are finished, and appreciating patterns in the natural world around us. As Mathematics is an integral part of everyday-life we make sure that we provide opportunities for children to improve their cultural capital by developing lessons in which children can apply their knowledge in real life situations. We endeavour to show that everyone is a Mathematician no matter where they are in their academic journey, or whether the learner has additional needs. We celebrate this and give children confidence in knowing that they are doing Mathematics all of the time, even when a teacher isn’t there! An ambitious approach to learning is therefore imperative, encouraging children to challenge themselves and question whether they can find out more at every step.
Talk about Mathematics is embedded through the school day and we take every opportunity to thread Mathematics into the daily routine. In The Foundation Stage, children are given language and opportunities to solve problems that they will often take the lead with as a result of opportunities to play in continuous provision. As a result, children take ownership over their learning, and with skilled guidance by the teachers and support staff, this leads to them exploring the different strands of Mathematics. In addition to this, teachers design lessons where specific areas of Mathematics in the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework are explored. This ensures coverage of the curriculum at an age appropriate level. The National Curriculum identifies that Fluency, Reasoning and Problem Solving are key elements that must be embedded to help children make links in their learning and develop a deep understanding of concepts, and although these are not specifically outlined in the EYFS Framework, we know that these skills are consistently practised in the Foundation Stage, and therefore we use this knowledge to show progression from the beginning of their time at Farnborough Grange.
From Year R, through to Year 2 we take guidance from the White Rose Hub when planning to support us in ensuring consistency, breadth of learning and progression. We further enhance our teaching by following an enquiry-based curriculum. Using questions to provoke thinking helps children to develop a sense of determination whilst learning, as well as an element of wonder, asking the question ‘why?’ and not just ‘how?’ These questions are revisited throughout lessons to review where on the learning journey the children are.
For children to develop the deep conceptual understanding that we are aiming for, we follow the process of introducing learning through concrete resources. It is at this point that we start the journey of exposing children to the Mathematical vocabulary that they will need to access. At Farnborough Grange we recognise the importance of a language rich environment and that a good understanding of technical vocabulary opens up the prospect of seeing and being part of Mathematics in a wider environment. We specifically plan for the vocabulary that we want the children to be able to use whilst exploring Mathematical concepts in order to support this. We ensure that questioning is carefully planned into teaching, not only to provide assessment for learning opportunities, but also to support children in reviewing the processes they have taken and whether these were the most effective and efficient strategies to use. The latter of these requires resilience, linking to one of the key values that Farnborough Grange holds.
We design learning so that challenge does not just mean using greater numbers, but builds upon the importance of mastering concepts, exploring them in different contexts and applying them in a range of problem solving situations. We find that children enjoy the opportunities to embed their learning in this way and take initiative to challenge themselves to find out more.
All of these elements continue as the children take the next step in their learning journey. When the children have sufficiently understood the practical, hands-on approach, they then progress to relating these concepts to different visual representations, such as a diagram or pictures of objects.
Finally, children then move onto the ‘abstract stage’ where they represent the Mathematical concepts they are exploring through formal notations. We carefully consider whether the children are ready for this step, ensuring that concrete and pictorial understanding is fully embedded to support the deep level of learning, and mastery that we aspire to.
Mathematical learning is expressed on a ‘working wall’ in the classroom. Teachers and student work together demonstrating the thought processes that have collaboratively taken place, modelling suggested ways of laying out processes, and also providing a tool to support children.
We are aware that, as with any area of learning, some children may find reaching the goals for their age range more challenging. To support these children, we provide intervention through ‘Max’s Marvellous Maths’, a scheme which breaks down learning into smaller, more achievable steps, and provides an opportunity to work as part of a small group on a regular basis. Alongside this, where it is needed, teachers deliver short personalised learning sessions to suit the needs of learners in areas which may need additional support.
We provide home learning for children which enables them to access Maths at home and in the environment outside of school. We also provide opportunities for families to come into school to hear about how best to support their children and to be part of how their children learn whilst at school. At Farnborough Grange we are sure that this is a key piece of the puzzle in growing children that are confident in solving problems and accessing Mathematics in the world developing around us.