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St John's Catholic Primary School

Mathematics Curriculum

“It is not about the answer you get, but the journey you took to get to the answer.”


At St. John’s we follow the White Rose Scheme of Learning. This is to ensure mathematics is taught to a mastery level showing depth and understanding of concepts taught. This approach to learning ensures small steps of progress are made towards the National Curriculum objectives, so that children have time to fully grasp a concept before moving on. This approach can take time to embed this understanding and knowledge but is vital in ensuring children are grasping key concepts in learning.

Lessons taught should mainly follow the structure outlined below:

  •  Fluency-based activities which enable children to recall number-based calculation facts
  • Problem-solving activities which enable children to apply their new or deeper learning to a variety of contexts
  • Reasoning activities which enable children to deepen their understanding and unpick how or why they have reached a specific answer

Our approach to teaching maths at St. John’s ensures children are taught at their year group level and for those children who need stretching, further opportunities are provided to provide the depth in their learning. This could be in the form of ‘Odd One Out’ tasks, ‘How many ways?’, ‘Explain’, ‘I know…So…’. These tasks give children the chance to apply their understanding and problem solve and reason their way through the tasks.

At St. John’s, we recognise that mathematics is all around us and makes up part of the foundations of everyday life. Therefore, we believe that it is vital for children to be fully equipped with a variety of skills and the ability to adapt these skills to different situations.

From the Early Years Foundation Stage, we follow a mastery approach where children learn a concept in depth, moving through small progressive steps to develop a deep, lasting understanding and confidence. This is taught through a variety of fluency, reasoning and problem-solving tasks. The idea is that all children begin in the same place and learn the same content. Those that are quicker at grasping a concept or skill will be pushed to think more mathematically and explore the ‘why’ of the concept, whereas additional support and scaffolding is given to those who take a little longer to grasp a learning objective.

All year groups begin their learning with place value which is vital to underpinning the number system, followed by calculation and other mathematics strands including measure, fractions and geometry. A strong foundation of number knowledge enables children to access and progress through the maths curriculum confidently.

Across the school, the children complete daily recall tasks to develop their fluency in arithmetic and solidify their understanding of mathematical methods. This helps to build their resilience and confidence in their own abilities. 

  • Explore: here’s a problem, explore first. Teacher observes children's conversations and begins assessing.
  • Structure: draw from children their ideas and methods and continue to assess. At this point you will teach methods new to them. Assessment should also be taking place here to identify more able learners and struggling learners.
  • Document: children should record methods in their maths book.
  • Guided practice: use of precise questions to practice using methods, so teacher can continue to assess.
  • Practice: children to complete high quality questions with a purpose, independently or in pairs/groups, but without teacher support (research says children must apply method more than once to retain it).
  • Apply – pupils should be given opportunities to apply the methods to problems and new situations (deeper thinking questions).

 Maths lessons should also:

  • Encourage visualisation: can they see the number as an amount? Are they using number bonds to picture groups?
  • Encourage verbal communication: use ‘talk to your partner’ in every lesson (constructive lessons have constructive conversation).
  • Have concrete objects or other resources: concrete objects can support lower ability groups, but also more able as they can investigate patterns using them.
  • Start with an informal approach and move onto formal: allow children to explore methods first then apply methods into a structure.