New to Leading Maths: Improving fluency
If you are new to leading Maths, or are looking for new ways to improve fluency of basic skills in your school, this post is for you.
Begin by reflecting on the following questions with your own class or own school in mind:
Can all of your pupils recall the number bonds you expect them to know?
Can all pupils recall number bonds in and out of order or do they recall them systematically?
What about multiplication tables? Do they know the 36 most important facts that help them recall all 144?
As leaders, I know you will each have developed your school maths vision policies, probably for your school website. They will be individual to each school but I believe that all schools are working towards the common goal of ensuring pupils leave as confident and proficient mathematicians, who can apply maths skills to their daily lives. We aim to prep children with a metaphorical 'maths toolkit' in which they can dip in and out of, selecting the most efficient and suitable strategies to solve problems.
You may be looking to develop fluency further in your school. Below are a few ideas to try out or consider.
As children arrive at school they could complete a Maths challenge. The White Rose Hub Flashback 4 resources are great for this. Before 9am children could have answered (and reviewed!) four questions - practising skills from the current week, current block, previous block and previous year. By having previous year/ block questions you are likely to gain an insight on children’s understanding on upcoming content. If you don’t have access to these materials you could set four questions of your own along the same lines. By doing this children will be digging into their short term and long term memory banks.
Basic Facts recall system
Here is are a couple of screen grab from a number system we use with our KS1 pupils. I can't take full credit for this - I amended a version that was very kindly shared by a chap working as a Mastery Specialist.
It is pretty much based on the addition and subtraction facts grid found in the appendix of DfE Guidance materials (p332 - link here). We outlined expectations for Y1 and Y2 pupils and use this Phase system to support pupils in knowing where they have come from and where they are going, and also their parents. We expect children to recall facts in around 3 seconds to demonstrate their arithmetical proficiency. A copy is sent home to parents to share the expectations and to provide a meaningful home learning task. The teachers use a spreadsheet to track progress each term.
Every minute counts!
Make it routine that practising bonds or tables facts takes place when children line up for break or lunch. When doing the afternoon register pupils could tell you their favourite number fact - you can gain an insight to children‘s understanding of place value - Year 2 children love to play around with facts in the millions! You can also see who lacks confidence. As children come in from break time they could practise skip counting. Adults should be modelling the fun in Maths and ceasing every opportunity to motivate pupils. Have a quick conversation with staff at the next meeting and encourage them to use every available minute to practise facts.
Catch up intervention
Are pupils identified who struggle with recall of number facts? Do they have regular intervention?
Here I am going to signpost you to two places:
Look at the findings relating to intervention - particularly in Key Stage 2. A few important ones in the context of this post are (in my opinion):
• Interventions should start early, be evidence-based and be carefully planned
• Interventions should include explicit and systematic instruction
• Support pupils to understand how interventions are connected to whole class instruction
Time dedicated to providing staff training is a real investment. If you‘ve had a change in staffing recently it may be good to do a refresher. I would strongly recommend getting in touch with your local maths hub to see what free CPD is being offered. The training led by maths hubs are still taking place using Zoom and can be booked this term ready to begin in the Spring.
Empower the pupils and make them the owners of their own discoveries as you prepare activities that help them see connections between different areas of the curriculum. We want children to notice things. We need to be drawing attention to specific details within a lesson without giving away the answers. Making as many connections as possible to other topics and daily life will give purpose to pupils maths education. It will give them reason to learn number facts quickly and effectively.
I hope you can take something away from this post. I'd love to hear how you get on.