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At Culmstock Primary School, in line with the National Curriculum, we aim to enable children to:

  • become fluent in the fundamentals of mathematics 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, suggesting relationships and generalisations, and developing an argument, justification or proof using mathematical language
  • solve problems by applying their mathematics to a variety problems with increasing sophistication, breaking down problems into smaller, more achievable steps and being willing to try multiple approaches

We intend to teach concepts starting with concrete examples (physical models), progressing through pictorial representations to the abstract use of symbols to represent and solve calculations and problems.  Pupils in the earlier year groups in the school will make more use of concrete models to cement their understanding.  As they get older and show increasingly solid conceptual understanding of a topic, they will move to representing maths through pictorial and eventually symbolic means to allow them to cope with increasingly complex questions efficiently.

For more information about the progression of representations used in the school, please see our Calculations Policies.

We use White Rose Maths as the basis of our planning to ensure curriculum coverage is thorough and progresses logically.  This is then supplemented with resources from other sources as needed to meet the individual needs of the pupils in class. 


At the start of a topic, we assess and review children’s understanding of key prior learning; the knowledge and concepts children should have secured before progressing on.  This is then used to inform teachers of the starting points for different children in class. 

As many of our classes are mixed age, some lessons revolve around the same concept, while others may include multiple streams of learning for different children.  Children working below or above the typical level of understanding for their age group will be supported and challenged appropriately.  Small group work and interventions are used to help those who are behind to ‘catch up’ to age-related expectations. 

Reasoning and problem solving are embedded in the White Rose materials used as the basis for teaching in classes.  In addition, pupils are given opportunities to conduct more open-ended investigations into mathematical ideas through lessons based on nRich materials.  Throughout all lessons, discussion and clear verbal explanations are encouraged to help children develop their mathematical thinking and vocabulary. 

Assessment is an ongoing process for teachers in mathematics; it will occur both during and after lessons, through discussion with pupils and reviews of their independent work.  Over time, teachers monitor progress through review of books, marking, and interactions with pupils.  They use the knowledge gained to modify future teaching appropriately. 

Throughout the week, pupils will also have the opportunity to practice skills and calculations that are not strictly fitted to the unit of study.  This provides spaced repetition and requires pupils to recall procedural knowledge on a semi-regular basis, assisting in the fixing of knowledge into long term memory.  In addition, teachers look for opportunities to use maths across the curriculum and harness them where appropriate.

In EYFS, maths is explicitly taught every day by the class teacher and then developed further in small group work with an adult and through continuous provision.  To support pupils to use the correct mathematical vocabulary when working with number, the teacher delivers regular ‘Number Blocks’ sessions, again providing pupils with the spaced repetition of key ideas to help them fix into long term memory. 


Children at Culmstock should demonstrate a positive, resilient attitude when approaching maths questions and problems.  Their fundamental understanding of the four calculations should be strong, and they should be able to use concrete, pictorial and symbolic representations of them.  We expect them to make good progress from their starting point and to engage with new ideas, showing curiosity and interest.

Each unit, progress will be monitored through completion of a summative assessment.  Pupils will also complete a more general maths test each term to enable tracking of medium-term progress.  Where these assessments highlight key weaknesses, where possible interventions will be put in place to try to help those pupils catch up. 

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