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Developing Maths Project

Further developing maths at Sutton Courtenay

We are passionate about maths at Sutton Courtenay and aim to inspire confidence and curiosity in our children when we teach it.

We recognise that the curriculum can be divided into three areas:

  • Fluency
  • Problem solving
  • Reasoning


We believe that fluency comes from confidence with mental and written strategies based on a firm conceptual understanding which has its foundations in using concrete methods. Without fluency, children struggle to problem solve or reason effectively. Focusing on developing fluency has been priority for us since 2017 and has ensured continued and significant improvements in our KS2 results and progress scores over the past few years.

In early 2021, we identified the importance of number fact retrieval across the age-range and developed new systems for assessing, tracking and supporting the development of fact knowledge in our children. In Autumn 2021, we joined the NCETM Mastering Number KS1 project and continue to participate. Mastering Number KS1 is also used for intervention in KS2. We are delighted that NCETM has developed the Mastering Number KS2 project and will be participating in it's first year in 2023-2024

Problem solving and reasoning

Problem solving and reasoning to develop mastery of mathematical concepts is built into the curriculum however we believe children need to be taught how to systematically and logically apply their learning. In 2019, we made the progress of problem solving and reasoning skills core to our Maths Development Plan. We undertook a survey of the existing practises, worked with other schools (both primary and secondary) to learn from their experiences and shared this learning with our staff through two CPD workshops. From the workshops we identified the need for us to specifically teach problem solving skills (pattern spotting, visualising, trial and improvement, logical reasoning, working backwards and using what you know in new concept) and key vocabulary and sentence starters to enable verbal and written explaining.
Launching in September 2019, we developed a maths mastery project in conjunction with Didcot Girls School (DGS) and, more recently, the Mastery and Numeracy leads from our Trust (RET). We have worked closely to identify how children develop mastery of maths and the way in which our teaching and our curriculum best support this. We believe that, primarily, children need to be able to articulate their thinking in verbal and written form and so we (Maths Lead and DGS staff) held a third CPD workshop in late 2019 to support staff in developing this in the classroom. In Autumn 2020, we sort out the best possible resources to support teaching and learning of maths mastery whilst also ensuring a manageable workload and in-built additional CPD for all staff: Power Maths (however we changed to White Rose Version 3 in September 2023). Since then, we have provided in-house CPD for teaching staff on teaching for challenge and greater depth and on using models to support understanding. Two members of staff participated in the NCETM Hub Introducing Maths Mastery project in 2020/21, Embedding Mastery in 2021/22 and have been part of the Sustaining Mastery project for two years.

Next Steps

We have revised our curriculum to be bespoke to Sutton Courtenay School, identifying the key models, representations and vocabulary at each stage (which we are assessing for impact this year) and to incorporate advice from the NCETM (Ready to Progress Criteria) and the new EYFS Framework. This year we have welcomed changed our main scheme to White Rose (version 3) which, we feel, best supports the teaching of maths mastery. We know that the full impact of this project will be unlikely to be measurable through data for several years however, our internal reviewing processes and formal assessments show us that the children are beginning to develop the vocabulary and strategies needed to deepen their understanding and application of mathematical concepts. In 2023/24 we are prioritising in-the moment deepening of understanding, the teaching of how to approach problem-solving and the development of oral stem sentences for all areas of maths.