Posted on 15th February 2022

Putting the curriculum at the heart of maths teaching

4:39 PM, 15th February 2022
Putting the curriculum at the heart of maths teaching

Putting the curriculum at the heart of maths teaching

Clare Hill | Mathematics Mastery

In 2014 the system of using National Curriculum levels was removed and an assessment system that had been in place since the late 1980s was not replaced. What emerged in the following years was a focus on formative assessment and a greater scrutiny of the structure of the curriculum that was being taught. Why do we so often end up teaching the same topics to foundation year 11 students that they studied in year 7? What changes can we make to curriculum design to ensure that students know more and remember more over time so that we don’t find ourselves in that position year on year?

We believe the curriculum should be a dynamic tool and more than a set of objectives on a page. Central to that belief is our Departmental Workshop resource which places collaborative dialogue centred on our coherent and cumulative curriculum design at the heart of your department’s maths teaching.

We believe conversations around curriculum are essential because questioning and understanding of the sequencing of the curriculum will lead to:

  • A clearer model of how maths is a set of connecting topics and not discrete units
  • Deeper understanding of how students progress through the subject
  • Greater consistency in teaching across the subject with teachers focusing on depth not breadth
  • Meaningful conversations around the subject we love

Beyond this, we know that these conversations will create a collegial environment that supports your team:

  • To take ownership of the curriculum
  • Explain why and how they use a resourced curriculum and how it works in their context
  • To demonstrate why and how they have adapted for their context
  • To use department time for deepening understanding of the resources so that time is spent exploring and planning how best to adapt the resources responsively for their classes
  • To consider how the curriculum works for all learners

We also know that this aligns with Ofsted’s focus within the ‘quality of education’ judgement: the 3 I’s – Intent, implementation and impact:

"For Ofsted, intent is simply what you want pupils to learn: your curriculum thinking and high-level planning. Implementation is the teaching activities you choose to teach your curriculum. Impact is when that curriculum content is learned."​

As these conversations become an embedded and habitual way of talking about the curriculum, your maths team will become increasingly confident and aligned in answering questions around curriculum intent, implementation and impact. Coaching and rehearsal for Ofsted will become obsolete because talking about curriculum is simply what they naturally do.

As a result they will be well placed to answer questions such as these around curriculum intent:

  • What are students expected to know, remember and be able to do having learnt this curriculum?​
  • How does your KS3 maths curriculum meet the requirements of the National Curriculum?​
  • What are the principles guiding the design of the Mathematics Mastery curriculum? How does this work in your context?
  • How does your curriculum prepare students for their future?​

They will have considered questions around implementation which could look like:

  • How do you assess in maths? Why do you take that approach?​
  • How do teachers check students’ understanding & identify misconceptions?​
  • How do teachers know knowledge, skills and understanding are being built cumulatively?
  • How do we develop subject and pedagogical knowledge for teachers?
  • How do we ensure that all students, including those with SEND, are making progress as a result of the Mathematics Mastery curriculum?
  • How does curriculum planning identify and respond to gaps in pupils’ mathematical knowledge?

And in terms of impact, how does your curriculum support students to know more, remember more and be able to do more of what you have specified on your curriculum intent as important – and how do you know?

If you have found this blog helpful and would like to know more, download our Ofsted Preparation Guide.

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