Our aim as a Mathematics Department is to develop mathematical thinkers, who are competent at arithmetic, but also able to apply their mathematical skills of logical reasoning and making connections to solve problems, not just in mathematics but across the curriculum. We want our students to see Mathematics not as a standalone subject, but understand that it is an essential component of other subjects and in real life.
Learning mathematics is a journey, which begins long before pupils start school, and continues throughout their lives. Our role is to help them along the secondary school portion of this journey, and encourage them to make as much progress as possible in this time. However, when pupils join us, they are already at widely different points along their journey. We believe maths is most effectively taught when it can be targeted to the correct level for each individual pupil. For this reason, we teach in sets from Year 7, allowing us to give more support and build foundations for pupils who find mathematics challenging, and at the same time extend and challenge those who are further along their journey. We aim to help pupils feel successful, regardless of what level they are at. Groupings are reviewed regularly to ensure that each pupil is in the set which will allow them to make the maximum progress.
What we study:
Mathematics is made up of five broad and closely interrelated disciplines: Number, Ratio & Proportion, Algebra, Geometry and Statistics. In any given term, pupils will cover aspects of each discipline. Although all pupils will be studying the same topic area at a given time, material will be targeted at a level appropriate to them. Progression in Mathematics relies on building upon a strong foundation of topics which have come before, and making links between the topics to strengthen these foundations. Pupils will learn and remember more effectively if they can make these connections to prior knowledge, as well as to other mathematical topics and indeed see how they can be applied to real life and other areas of the curriculum, such as Science, DT and Geography.
Our Scheme of Work is based on these principles. It is built upon taking “small steps”, identifying prerequisite knowledge for each new area of learning, and ensuring pupils have strong foundations before ploughing ahead. It is a spiralled curriculum, creating opportunities to recap and revisit previously covered topics regularly, with interleaving to strengthen links between related topics, and developing links between other curricular areas.
To help deepen and improve understanding, we also build multiple representations into our activities. We believe using concrete or visual representations can help to make abstract concepts – such as why subtracting a negative number results in addition – more understandable. Tasks which are integrated into our Scheme of Work include not just basic fluency practice of newly learned skills, but then applications of these skills – combined with previously learned skills – in problem-solving, and giving opportunities for investigations and gaining further depth where appropriate. We also have dedicated sections to “financial maths”, linking to the PSHE curriculum and building financial literacy, helping to equip pupils for the future.
For pupils in Years 10 and 11 who enjoy the subject, and perhaps plan to study it at A-Level, we also offer an option combining GCSE Statistics and a Level 2 Certificate in Further Maths. The schemes of work for this option are linked to and interleaved with our GCSE Mathematics scheme, providing opportunities for making links and gaining further depth of understanding.
To be successful in Mathematics, it is vital that pupils come prepared with the correct equipment to all lessons. This includes the basics such as pencil, ruler, protractor and compasses, and also a good scientific calculator. We highly recommend the Casio scientific calculators.
Regular use of formative assessment is built into our Scheme of Work. When beginning a topic, and throughout the topic, pupils will be informally assessed, e.g. through discussion, use of diagnostic questions, classwork and homework. At the end of each topic, pupils will do a short topic test to gauge their level of understanding and highlight any areas that may need further work.
Throughout years 7 to 10, at the end of each term – usually in December, April and July, pupils will have a formal End of Term assessment, which will focus on topics covered that term. The End of Year assessment in July will also draw upon previous terms’ work. All assessments are designed to be appropriate for the ability and attainment level of each set.
The purpose of the assessments are two-fold. They help pupils to learn and reinforce their recall by creating a “testing effect”, and give opportunities for topics to be combined within questions. As a summative assessment, they also highlight areas that pupils require further work on. Pupils are expected to use their dedicated improvement time after the assessment to address these topics, demonstrating independent learning.
To aid preparation for final GCSE exams, in Year 10, the questions used in the assessments will be GCSE style questions. In Year 11, assessment is slightly different. In November, pupils will have two papers, one calculator and one non-calculator. In January/February, during mock exams, they will complete the full suite of three GCSE papers (Paper 1 is non-calculator; Papers 2 and 3 are calculator). Further exam practice will take place in March and April, as appropriate for each individual class.