'Mathematics is not about numbers, equations, computations or algorithms. It is about understanding.'
William Paul Thurston

Curriculum Intent

At St Agnes Academy we want our children to be enthusiastic and proficient mathematicians, who can apply their learning across a range contexts and understand the importance of mathematics in everyday life. Through our maths curriculum we aim to develop our children's reasoning and problem solving skills so that they feel confident to tackle challenges and develop tenacity and think creatively.

The mastery learning model forms the basis of our approach to maths teaching. This means spending greater time going into depth about a subject, in order to develop a deep and secure understanding, as opposed to racing through a broader content at a more superficial level. As a primary school, it is our duty to ensure that children have a solid, concrete understanding of subject knowledge and skills, which can be applied flexibly and used as a solid foundation for later learning in secondary school and beyond.

 We focus on all children achieving what is expected of their age group and not going beyond this. Evidence shows that children need to be able to understand a concept, apply it in a range of situations and then be creative to really understand it. At our school no child will be taught content from the year above them. They will spend time becoming true masters of content, applying and being creative with new skills and knowledge in multiple ways. 

Our children will be extended by being required to apply what they have learned, flexibly, to new situations and being encouraged to discover links and connections between different areas of learning e.g. linking learning about factor pairs, prime numbers and commutativity to problems relating to the area of rectangles.

Children at our school experience maths as a collaborative, language rich, process of discovery rather than as a process of applying algorithms provided by the teacher.


White Rose Maths is used to deliver the National Curriculum (2014). Specifics of calculation methods used can be found in our calculation policy. Details of mental maths strategies can be found in our yearly mental maths documents.   We follow a spiral curriculum, where topics are revisited yearly. Content from the previous year is briefly revised before new, related learning is introduced.

Pupils in KS1 are engaged in maths activities for one hour per day. This increases to 1 hour and 15 minutes in KS2. In both key stages, this consists of a White Rose lesson and 15 minutes throughout the day spent practising and consolidating mental maths skills.

Our lessons follow the structure outlined below. For more detailed information about the content and purpose of each part, please click on the link to our Maths Curriculum Statement at the bottom of this page.

1. Exploration 

2. Structured Learning 

3. Guided Practise

4. Independent Practise

5. Application and challenge through Star Questions (reasoning and problem solving questions)

White Rose is based on some key pedagogical tools to ensure our children really master the taught content before moving to the next step. These teaching and learning approaches are outlined below. Again for more detailed information, please refer to our maths curriculum statement at the bottom of this page.

Key pedagogical tools:

1. Facilitating exploration (providing children with opportunities to explore problems using manipulatives and talk to gain access and to allow the teacher to make immediate assessments and adaptions to the rest of the lesson)

2. Concrete-pictorial-abstract (CPA) approach (children are guided through the use of concrete materials such as counters and Base 10 to represent and access their learning, to using pictures and diagrams to finally representing their maths using calculations and formulae.

3. Aiding visualisation (encouraging children to develop and use their own visual representations to provide ways in which they can access, model and plan a strategy to solve a problem)

4. Developing meta cognition (teaching children how to monitor and regulate themselves as learners)

5. Modelling (providing children with good working models and vocabulary to support them during independent work)

6. Questioning (used to facilitate discussion and also to continually check understanding and to support and extend learners where necessary)


Assessment of understanding 

The expectation in every Maths lesson is that all students are able to achieve the learning objective but in a number of different ways and to varying depths of understanding. A students’ readiness to be stretched or need to be supported is assessed through observation and questioning which take place at the earliest possible opportunity. 

Depth before acceleration 

At no point during the lesson are students accelerated onto new content until the full range of ‘extension through deepening’ activities have been fully exhausted. 

Star Questions

These are questions that require a deeper understanding to answer but don’t accelerate into the next year’s curriculum. These usually involve applying the content of the lesson flexibly to new situation or reasoning using ideas covered in the lesson.

Use of visual and concrete materials 

To aid understanding of a topic, concrete and/or visual materials are available to all students in every lesson where this is possible. Less able students will find being able to manipulate physical objects strengthens their conceptual understanding, while the more able students will be able to manipulate objects in different ways in order to identify different methods of solving a problem. 

Multiple methods 

One of the most powerful ways of extending more able students is to regularly ask and encourage them to obtain their final answer using a different method. It is important that learners are reminded that the method they used to reach their final answer is not as important as their understanding of why it worked. Less able learners should not be pushed to find multiple methods until they have fully grasped the first. In a maths lesson, one method with a full understanding is always enough.

Level of abstraction 

Another way of differentiating is to increase/decrease the level of abstraction. This can be done by providing/removing visual/concrete materials or asking students to use (and explain) formal abstract methods (such as exchange during subtraction/division). 

Group work 

Students are regularly directed to work in pairs/groups to discuss problems and share their ideas. This does not need to be set up as a formal ‘group work’ activity, but instead is the ongoing expectation in maths lessons. 

Monitoring Progress

Children are assessed daily through questioning and marking of workbooks. Children who have not achieved an objective receive same day intervention in order to catch up before the next lesson. This often takes the form of small group teaching during guided practice or pre-teaching in a small group.  At the end of each unit of work, children complete a review. The classes reviews are used by the teacher to establish whether any element should be retaught before moving on to the next unit. Children complete termly PUMA tests to monitor long term retention and progress through the year. SATS (year 2 and year 6) and end of year teacher judgements, combined with end of year PUMA tests are used to track children’s progress through the school.

Curriculum Impact

At St Agnes Academy, we have 3 measures of curriculum impact, all of which are essential in ensuring that our children make excellent progress, are ready for the next phase in their learning journey and are well-rounded, thoughtful and responsible individuals. Our 3 measures are:

  1.     What we learn
  2.     Who we are
  3.     How we behave

Most children achieve age-related expectations by the time they leave St Agnes and the vast majority maintain good progress through each key stage. We aim for all children to know their times tables up to 12 X 12 by the end of year 4. The curriculum ensures confidence and flexibility in maths so that children have the knowledge and skills necessary for the next phase of their learning. 

We aim to develop children who have the curiosity and courage to engage with, and construct their own, new challenges; children who value the others' contributions and can work collaboratively towards joint solutions and children who have the compassion to help and support their peers. Explanation and discussion develop children’s confidence in speaking and listening.

Maths develops children’s analytic skills and resilience. Frequent requests to explain their methods, reasoning and how they ‘know that they know’ develop meta cognitive skills. Explaining reasoning to others also helps to develop communication and presentation skills. Children develop their ability to activate prior learning, and make links between different areas of learning.

Our curriculum lead for maths is Jo Radley
Below are links to:
Our Maths Curriculum Statement
Our Calculation Policies
Our Year Group Overviews for maths including mental maths objectives (more detailed information on each year groups objectives can be found on the year group's page)