Lead: Clair Pillinger


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At Blackgates Primary school, we offer children a high quality mathematics curriculum and have adopted a mastery approach for the teaching of mathematics. Underpinning this pedagogy is the belief that all children can believe, achieve and succeed in maths. We believe in promoting sustained and deepened understanding by employing a variety of mastery strategies, with teaching for conceptual understanding at the heart of everything we do. We aim to create independent mathematicians who are well equipped to apply their learning to the wider world. We intend for our pupils to be able to apply their mathematical knowledge to science and other subjects. We want our children to realise that mathematics has been developed over centuries, providing the solution to some of history’s most intriguing problems. We want them to know that it is essential to everyday life, critical to science, technology and engineering, and necessary for financial literacy and most forms of employment. As our pupils progress, we intend for our pupils to be able to understand the world, have the ability to reason mathematically, have an appreciation of the beauty and power of mathematics and a sense of enjoyment about the subject.

Maths at Blackgates Primary Academy incorporates fluency, reasoning and problem solving and is taught using a concrete, pictorial, abstract (CPA) approach. It develops a deep and sustainable understanding of maths in pupils and is an essential technique of maths mastery that builds on a child’s existing understanding. The variety within the approach means the children really learn the ‘why’ behind what we do, rather than just learning to repeat routines without grasping what is happening.  Teaching for mastery links to our main school aim of ‘believe, achieve, succeed’ as it provides all children with full access to the curriculum enabling them to achieve confidence and competence in mathematics, rather than failing to develop the maths skills they need for the future.


To support this approach and the new aims and objectives of the National Curriculum, the Mathshub schemes of learning are followed.  They:

  • Have number at their heart. A large proportion of time is spent reinforcing number to build competency. 
  • Ensure teachers stay in the required key stage and support the idea of depth before breadth.
  • Ensure students have the opportunity to stay together as they work through the schemes as a whole group.
  • Provide plenty of opportunities to build reasoning and problem solving elements into the curriculum. 


The Mathshub schemes help our maths lessons take the whole class through the mathematics in small steps to build deep understanding. We ask children to reason, discuss and connect their mathematics using mathematical vocabulary and a range of representations to show mathematical concepts and relationships. We expect children to develop fluency with their recall, and use of key number facts including addition pairs and multiplication facts. We challenge children by asking them to reason about and apply their mathematics, and to identify common errors and misconceptions.  

We also understand the importance of language and the significance this has in a child being able to access the Primary Maths Curriculum. We have high expectations of the language that is used, both in written work and in class discussions. To help with language development, we use stem sentences. This technique gives students the opportunity to respond in the form of a complete sentence to effectively communicate their answers whilst maintaining a reasoning approach. Sentence stems provide scaffolding to help students get started in speaking or writing without the added pressure of thinking about how to correctly formulate a response. It also allows the children to learn mathematical definitions of key concepts that can travel with them through school.

A typical lesson will start with a five-minute question, focusing on either; justification, conjecturing relationships or generalisation style questions. This will allow for talk within the classroom and should support the children’s reasoning skills. A ten-minute input of sharing the learning objective and how to answer a fluency question will follow. The children will then have a set of questions, which is in the same style as the example the teacher has just given, and the children will then need to independently answer these while the teacher live marks. Any child who has not understood will have a T on their sheet, and those who have understood will have pink ticks. Once the children have answered these questions, the teacher will then model how to apply these skills to a problem-solving or reasoning question. The children will then have the rest of the lesson to apply their skills to a variety of different style questions. Those children who got a T in the first section of the lesson, will join the teacher in a focus group for further support to help them with the objective.



Here at Blackgates, in our EYFS provision, we believe in the importance of child led learning. We believe that the most vital aspect of children’s play is for them to follow their own interests and for EYFS practitioners to use this as a starting point to develop their thinking. Teaching should be responsive to children’s needs. Our EYFS practitioners are trained to feel confident to take our children’s interests and build mathematical opportunities into them. We believe in creating and thinking critically and allowing children to make links and choose their own ways to do things.

In Nursery, the children access a wide range of maths activities and resources in the areas of provision. Through the use of equipment and templating the children are able to develop their ideas and concepts of number, size, shape, space and measure, and develop their mathematical language and vocabulary. The children participate in small group activities with the teacher which are always practical and focus on a particular area of learning. Their work and achievements are recorded through observations on Tapestry. Teaching forms the basic understanding of number ready for reception.

In Reception, the children also access a wide range of maths activities and resources in the areas of provision. Challenges are set up in the environment for the children and they are able to access a wide range of maths resources in the maths area. The children participate in short sessions with the class and then work in small groups with the teacher to enhance their understanding of that particular area of learning, in practical activities. Their achievements are recorded through observations on Tapestry, and the children begin to make some of their own recordings in a class floor book.

Number: In reception we look at numbers up to 5 in Autumn, numbers to 10 in Spring and numbers to 20 in Summer.  These small steps to success allow children to delve deeper into these numbers but it is also important that children use and experiment with larger numbers as well. Large numbers excite small children as they have an air of mystery about them. They see larger numbers all around them in everyday life and this can be brought into the classroom through the numbers used in displays and role-play situations that mirror real life. Children should also have the opportunity to discuss and experiment with larger numbers so they understand them in context without yet having to understand their composition.

Shape, space and measure: Although there is a large weighting towards number in the Reception progression, it is still vital that children are given the opportunity to develop their understanding of shape, space and measure (SSM). This is evident in the schemes through interleaving content into other areas of learning. Understanding SSM is essential for making sense of the world. Teachers at Blackgates Primary Academy create environments that allow children to experiment with SSM in child-led play as well as through the suggested activities in other blocks of learning.

Aim in Mathematics:

Across all year groups, we aim for our mathematicians to:

  • Become fluent in the fundamentals of mathematics, including through varied and frequent practice with increasingly complex problems over time, so that pupils develop conceptual understanding and the ability to recall and apply knowledge rapidly and accurately.
  • Reason mathematically by following a line of enquiry, conjecturing relationships and generalisations, and developing an argument, justification of proof using mathematical language can solve problems by applying their mathematics to a variety of routine and non-routine problems with increasing sophistication, including breaking down problems into a series of simpler steps and persevering in seeking solutions.