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Mathematics at Shirley Junior School

The national curriculum for mathematics aims to ensure that all pupils:

  • 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 or 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

At Shirley Junior School, our maths curriculum is engaging, fun and creative. All children have access to the curriculum and we create an environment in which they make good progress within lessons. We want our children to be able to make rich connections and links within maths and apply these to answer a range of questions. The children are encouraged the become curious thinkers and to persevere when met with challenging concepts.


How is Maths taught at Shirley Junior School?

Across the school we have developed a mastery approach to mathematics. Teaching maths for mastery is different because it offers all pupils access to the full maths curriculum. This inclusive approach, and its emphasis on promoting multiple methods of solving a problem, builds self-confidence and resilience in pupils.

We ensure that in our maths curriculum:

  • The planning focuses on small steps that help children address misconceptions and achieve objectives.
  • The planning supports the idea of depth of learning before breadth of learning.
  • There are plenty of opportunities to build reasoning and problem solving elements into the curriculum.
  • Practical and visual resources are used to model and support children’s conceptual understanding of maths.

We strongly believe it is important that children develop a deep understanding of the mathematical concepts they are learning. Therefore, we have changed our teaching of maths, ensuring our planning journey follows a Concrete, pictorial, abstract (CPA) approach.  This is a highly effective approach to teaching that develops a deep and sustainable understanding of maths for all pupils.


Concrete is the “doing” stage, using concrete objects to model problems. This stage brings concepts to life by allowing children to experience and handle physical, concrete objects themselves to support abstract concepts

For example, if a child is asked to make the number 1344, they would do so by using dienes to understand the place value of each of the digit.


Pictorial is the “seeing” stage of CPA which uses representations of the objects to model problems. This stage helps children to make a connection between the physical object and abstract levels of understanding by drawing or looking at pictures, diagrams or models which represent the objects in the problem. This supports children in visualising problems making it more accessible for them. For example, after using dienes for making the number 1344, the children would then draw this number in different representations either as counters, on a number line or drawing dienes.


Abstract is the “symbolic” stage, in which children focus on understanding the abstract concept. Only once a child has demonstrated a solid understanding of the “concrete” and “pictorial” representations, can the teacher introduce the more “abstract” concept. Here, children are introduced to the concept at a symbolic level, using only numbers, notation, and mathematical symbols when solving problems. For example, after using the dienes and the pictures to represent 1344, the children should then be able to understand what the digit represents dependent on where it sits in the number.


Structure of a maths lesson

We encourage teachers to have a flexible and reactive approach in their maths lessons to ensure all children make progress and key misconceptions are addressed.

5 a day

During the start of every maths lesson, the children will complete a ‘5 a day’. These are 5 quick calculations that the children have previously learned. This helps the children consolidate and recap key methods throughout the school. As the children move through the school, we increase the number of questions to help with speed and recall:

Year 3- 5 a day                    Year 4- 6 a day                         Year 5 – 8 a day                      Year 6- 10 a day

Explore maths

At the beginning of each key maths strand like place value or fractions the children will be given an exploratory lesson in which they recap on key vocabulary and become familiar with concrete and pictorial resources that will support them in their overall mathematical understanding.

A typical maths lesson at Shirley Junior School will follow the key elements:

  • 5 a day starter to help the children recall key mathematical concepts which have previously been taught.
  • Explicit teacher modelling of the mathematical skill following an ‘I do, you do’ approach.
  • Children apply the skill in ‘practise’ style questions that mainly focus on fluency. These are either completed individually, in pairs or groups or are done as part of the ‘I do you do’ with the teacher guiding.
  • When children have shown a secure understanding of the skill through the ‘practise questions’, they move onto ‘evidence questions’ which focus on applying the skill through reasoning and problem solving. These are done independently to both give the children confidence and to show evidence that the children have mastered the concept being taught.
  • If children show a solid understanding throughout the practise and evidence questions, they move onto ‘free choice’ maths. This is where we expect children to demonstrate a fluid approach and be able to recognise when different skills may be needed. We would expect to see children showing a solid understanding of connections between maths concepts.

Pupil Voice
We feel it is important that we listen to the feedback of our children at Shirley Junior School and they are very positive about their maths lessons. 


“I enjoy maths because you get to have fun and work together and make games”

“My favourite part of maths is working independently as I can focus and it is a lot easier to work”

“I enjoying multiplying”



“My favourite part of maths is answering questions with adding and subtraction in them”

“I feel confident in maths because lots of my teachers have helped me and taught us really well”



“Writing it on a whiteboard helps”

“I always do the question twice to see if it is correct or not”

“I enjoy maths”


Useful Websites
Below are some links to websites that you may like to try out with your children:

BBC Bitesize- Fantastic maths resources and games .

Maths Frame This has lots of free games linked specifically to the maths curriculum objectives

TT Rockstars A great website to keep children practising their recall of timetables.

Maths Zone- A great website full of games

Super Maths World- Great games for KS2. Children can log in as a guest or create an account. 

Cool Maths- Another website full of interactive games. 

Crik Web- Great free games