Mathematics


Head of Department: Mrs S Burgess

MATHEMATICS

Mathematics is an exciting and challenging part of the curriculum. It is a discipline that teaches logical, structured thinking and yet at the same time it encourages  creativity and lateral thinking.

General aims;

  • We aim to provide the pupils with a positive learning experience and thus boost confidence and self-esteem.
  • We aim to enhance the pupils’ mental arithmetic skills by providing the necessary skills.
  • We aim to provide the skills for problem solving and logical thought processes.
  • We aim to balance the creative and fun elements of maths with the necessary repetition and drill to ensure that adequate learning and consolidation is taking place. 
  • We aim to enrich pupils in the area of discovery and investigative maths.
  • We aim to extend each boy’s lateral thinking abilities by providing regular extension activities and by taking part in competitions such as the AMESA Maths Challenge.       

Specific aims:

We have a curriculum which ensures that the foundations for each area of Mathematics in each grade is firmly laid. Our specific aims in each grade are:

  • to promote enjoyment and enthusiasm for learning through practical activity, exploration and discussion.
  • to develop logical thinking and reasoning skills through an investigative approach.
  • to provide strategies for successful problem solving.
  • the performance of basic operations, knowledge of fractions and solving associated real-life and simulated problems.
  • the manipulation of numbers and number patterns in different ways. 
  • teaching Maths in context of real life situations, including financial Maths and working with a budget.
  • measuring with competence and confidence in a variety of contexts.
  • collecting and using data from various contexts to make informed judgements and critically analysing that data.
  • exploring features of space and shape and developing an early understanding of geometrical concepts.
  • using mathematical language to communicate mathematical ideas, concepts, generalisations and thought processes with particuar focus on writing correct mathematical statements.
  • understanding the importance of mathematical skills in everyday life.

In order to fulfil all these general and specific aims, maths lessons include class teaching, individual help where necessary, group work, practical work, oral and written problem solving activities. Calculators and computers are used where appropriate. Activities are chosen that are appropriate to the level of attainment for the class and the individuals in that class.

Setting for Mathematics

In Grade 4 we have a small group of about eight boys who need a one-on-one teaching approach to nuture them and develop their mathematical confidence. These small classes continue through to Grade 7. A top set of boys is created in Grade 5, 6 and 7. The rest of the grade is divided into two classes of equal ability.
The progress of the boys in each set is carefully monitored throughout the year so that movement can take place in June and at the beginning of the year when necessary.
The top set boys are carefully chosen, taking into consideration not only their achievement, but also their work ethic and their emotional needs. Boys in the top set must be responsible and able to work independently at a faster pace.

Assessment

All classes in the grade follow the same core curriculum. Pupils’ progress is carefully monitored through regular assessment. Testing in Mathematics is vital as a diagnostic and evaluation tool. Diagnostic assessment takes place on a regular basis through class exercises and oral evaluation. All classes write the same standardised tests for evaluation. Usually three tests per term are written in each grade. Project work, group work and investigations also form part of continuous assessment. Boys use an online Mathematics programme called Mathletics where tasks are set by the teacher and progress carefully tracked and monitored.

Homework and the role of the parent

Maths homework is given to consolidate work dealt with in class and also to extend abilities through discovery and investigation. This should be seen as a positive activity. Parents can play a vital role by being at hand to help and encourage where necessary. Problem solving should not become a source of anxiety but rather be seen as a challenge. There is no one correct method for problem solving. Encourage your children to try different approaches and ways of thinking. 

  • Homework time needs to be structured and organised. Ensure that your son has an uncluttered place to do homework, free from the distractions of the TV.
  • Encourage a regular time slot for homework to ensure that it is not hurriedly done on the way to school.
  • Ideally the homework should have been recorded in the diary. Check and sign the diary regularly.
  • If there appears to be no Maths homework, revise bonds and table with the younger boys and do Mathletics.
  • Try to ensure this time is as stress free as possible. Remember what your role as a parent is, namely to provide interested and loving support and help when it is needed. Let your son take responsibilty for his work and encourage him to be independent.  If your son is battling with his Maths homework and it is becoming a source of friction, rather put it away and write a note to the teacher.
  • Try to remove the fear of making mistakes. There is much to learn from mistakes. It is better to attempt to solve a problem and fail than not to attempt at all.
  • It is very difficult not to interfere when you can see a better way of doing a task or project. Don’t do his work for him as you are not helping him in the long run. Rather brainstorm with him before he starts and then let him decide how he wants to complete the work.
  • It is important for parents to look at workbooks regularly and encourage neat and orderly work.
  • Try to develop a good working relationship with your son’s teacher. The teacher, parent and pupil together form a triangle, the most rigid and strongest of mathematical shapes.

Sue Burgess
February 2015