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Whole school strategy for improved numeracy
A numerate student “...demonstrates mathematical literacy through their capacity to identify and understand the role that mathematics plays in the world, to make well-founded judgements and to use and engage with mathematics in ways that meet the needs of that individual’s life as a constructive, concerned and reflective citizen.”
PISA(Programme for International Student Assessment), 2009, via What is Numeracy?, National Numeracy, 2012, http://www.nationalnumeracy.org.uk; accessed June 2012
‘We use mathematical thinking all the time, the trick is to make it explicit to students. If you explain how your subject uses maths, then maybe prejudices will slowly start to shift.'
(David Didau, The Secret of Numeracy)
This strategy focuses on numeracy and mathematical thinking across learning, and how this provides for essential analytic, problem-solving and decision-making skill development across the curriculum.
Teachers understand how students progress in numeracy and mathematical thinking in their subject. By creating opportunities for mathematical thinking we foster students’ abilities to problem solve; build connections between the mathematics and other subjects; raise questions; and demonstrate understanding through mathematical reasoning.
Our strategy applies to all staff with a teaching responsibility, including Teaching Assistants, ITT students and volunteers. We all share the responsibility to ensure a consistent approach is embedded across the school to underpin our students’ mastery of numeracy. This is achieved through:
- Ensuring a range of opportunities are provided for students to: ask mathematical questions; organise and present information in differing formats; see relationships between different things; and develop strategies for error checking;
- Developing a consistent approach across the school of students’ use of numeracy skills;
- Providing a range of opportunities for students to become competent in problem solving and financial literacy;
- Planning for effective spoken communication, particularly the correct use of mathematical vocabulary.
Teaching of numeracy and problem solving within the Mathematics Department
A shared understanding of key methods of calculation
At CVHS, our calculation protocols demonstrate methods used by students to multiply, divide, add, subtract as well as use of fractions, decimals, percentage and the order of operations. In Years 7 and 8, dedicated numeracy lessons support the development of numeracy ensuring that students are supported but also stretched, challenged and encouraged to grapple with these skills in unfamiliar context and challenging concepts. All students embed and apply their understanding through a rich and varied activities in lessons and through home learning.
Problem solving is an integral part of everyday learning.
Problem solving is about engaging with real problems; guessing, discovering, and making sense of mathematics. Problem solving is:
- seeking solutions not just memorising procedures;
- exploring patterns not just memorising formulas;
- formulating conjectures, not just doing exercises.
Students are supported with problem solving activities through carefully chosen scaffolds. These scaffolds can be anything that give the students a structure or outline in order to help the students organise their idea without complete the cognitive work for them. Students should also be expected to justify their answers verbally and through extended writing.
Presentation of work
Students are expected to present the new information and findings in different ways. When tables are drawn, it is expected that these are drawn using a ruler and pencil. Similarly for graphs, students are expected to use the guidance shared in the calculations protocols and use the correct equipment and paper. Teachers ensure students constructing a graph justify why they have chosen this graph and what the graph shows using technical language.
Mathematics readiness across the curriculum
Mathematics teachers know the mathematical techniques used in other subjects and advice other departments, so that a correct and consistent approach is used in all subjects. Mathematics teachers liaise with subject leaders and teachers to ensure that students have appropriate numeracy skills by the time they are needed for work in other subject areas. The Mathematics Department include opportunities to use topics and examination questions from other subjects in mathematics lessons. Mathematics in other curriculum areas is promoted through posters and displays of applications and methods used in other areas.
Use of calculators
Students are encouraged to restrict reliance on calculators unless it is appropriate to use them. Where calculator skills are taught in Mathematics students are expected to continue using them appropriately in other situations.
Teaching of numeracy, mathematical thinking and problem solving across the school
Key mathematical vocabulary and notation
Students need key mathematical vocabulary and notation to achieve well in exams. Teachers draw attention to these elements in lessons. The consistent approach of key mathematical vocabulary and notation encourages students to apply mathematical skills in other subjects.
Teaching of mathematical concepts
Teachers are aware of appropriate expectations of students and difficulties that might be experienced with numeracy skills. Staff use agreed calculation protocols and methods for core numeracy skills. Although some students may choose to use other methods, students will be familiar with the methods referred to and should be able to explain their methods of working. Teachers are familiar with correct mathematical language, notation, conventions and techniques, relating to their own subject, and encourage students to use these correctly.
Problem solving within tutor time
Teachers encourage problem solving in familiar and unfamiliar situations. In Years 7 to 9 all students participate in solving logic puzzles in tutor time weekly. This is designed to engage, inspire and enthuse students, increasing problem solving for pleasure. The types and levels of difficulty of puzzles change regularly enabling students to develop different strategies and ensure there is sufficient challenge and stretch.
Promoting mathematics throughout the school
Every term, the Maths Department engages student in UKMT maths challenges and numeracy trails, to the promotion of strategic game play and the celebration of National Maths Day, National Pi Day and the NSPCC Number Day.
Some students will require additional support to develop competent Numeracy skills and remove barriers to their progress.
- Wave 1 Intervention: Referral to the Mathematics Department’s Numeracy Lead. Any member of staff concerned about a student’s numeracy contacts the Mathematics Subject Leader who liaises with the student’s Mathematics teacher. The Mathematics Department explicitly teaches the different numeracy, mathematical and problem solving elements, using in-class and home learning intervention approaches as appropriate.
- Wave 2 Intervention: Numeracy intervention. Support from Mathematics staff/numeracy support worker in small groups to boost the numeracy skills of students who need additional input following Wave 1.
- Wave 3 Intervention: Referral to the Numeracy Support Worker/SEND Team for 1:1 or 1:2 numeracy intervention.