How to tackle the new maths curriculum

In September, England's curriculum is changing for key stages 1, 2 and 3. This week, teachers reveal how they are approaching maths

Primary

Getting to grips with the new maths curriculum may seem like an overwhelming prospect. However, although the changes are challenging, they are not as radical as some people think.

The curriculum is organised by year group, with many topics introduced at an earlier stage. For example, children in Year 1 will now be expected to recall and use number bonds and related subtraction facts up to 20. New topics have been added, such as complex fraction and decimal work, which was previously introduced at secondary level.

As maths coordinator, my initial aims will be to put in place medium- and long-term plans that ensure sufficient coverage of these new objectives and to make teaching staff aware of the changes. All teachers will need to have a clear understanding of the progression of skills across the key stages.

Expectations have been raised in the new curriculum, especially with regard to number; there is a greater emphasis on mental and written calculations of whole numbers, fractions and decimals. For instance, children will need to know their times tables up to 12x12 by the end of Year 4. With this in mind, it will be crucial for teachers, children and parents to understand the importance of knowing key mathematical facts by heart, including times tables, division and number facts, as well as products of multiples of 10 and 100.

One of the immediate challenges will be to put in place programmes that accelerate the progress of children in upper KS2 who have not achieved rapid recall of this key information. I have begun exploring ways of incorporating these skills into every lesson and through the implementation of a series of weekly tests on times tables and number bonds. Raised expectations will mean there is no time to continually re-teach all this key knowledge, but if it is taught little and often we can make sure that these facts stick.

The curriculum now includes the teaching of traditional algorithms in Years 3 and 4. The challenge will be to ensure that teachers understand the foundation skills needed to use these methods successfully, otherwise it will be easy for children to see methods such as column addition as magic tricks for adding large numbers. I am working on a new calculation policy that will underpin these methods with the requisite foundation skills, making sure children have developed a robust understanding of the concepts underpinning the required calculation, number and measures strands.

The new curriculum will require changes to how we approach maths, but the key will be to ensure that foundation skills are embedded across the school. If these are secure, children will be able to use any method presented to them and solve any problem.

Rhodri Thomas is maths coordinator at Bournemouth Park Primary School in Southend-on-Sea, Essex

Secondary

When I first heard about the new maths curriculum, I was not overly concerned. But when I sat down with the head of department to look at the changes in detail, we realised they were indeed significant.

The programmes of study for KS3 were announced in September 2013 with the stated aim of developing fluency, mathematical reasoning and problem-solving. These seem like good foundations for a new curriculum, but they are abstract words. It was only when we saw the proposed changes for the GCSE that we realised substantial adaptations were needed.

At the time of writing, the exam boards are yet to announce their specifications, but there are some things we do know for certain. Perhaps most importantly, the new GCSE will have considerably more content than before. The higher tier will now cover topics such as iteration, quadratic inequalities, geometric sequences, interpreting financial graphs and even some form of introduction to calculus in the guise of instantaneous rates of change. In addition, some challenging topics are moving from higher to foundation, including standard form, solving quadratics by factorising and deriving, and solving simultaneous equations. On top of this, we have a new GCSE grading system (1-9) and a reduced formula sheet.

So, how do we prepare? Greater teaching time will be needed, so the number of KS3 (50-minute) maths lessons has been increased from four to five a week from September, to bring it in line with KS4.

The current Year 8 group will be the first to sit the new GCSE. Therefore, a three-year plan needs to be in place for Years 9-11 in time for September. Content will be divided up over these years, with the topics requiring greater maturity held back until Year 11. The new way of grading will probably mean that more students are entered for foundation; I hope that we will no longer have a system where students are asked to sit exams where they cannot access the majority of the content, because this is their best chance of securing a C.

We will also include a key element from our brand-new Year 7 and 8 schemes of learning: compulsory rich tasks. Between two topic units, all students across the year group will take on a carefully chosen rich activity for a couple of lessons, which may be based on something they studied months ago. This strategy consolidates key skills, engages students and helps them to develop into the non-routine problem-solvers that they will need to be.

Finally, I think the days of assessing Year 9s with old Sats papers are over, partly because the levels will no longer be recognised, but more importantly because we have found that the style of the Sats questions is so different to the GCSE that crucial teaching time can be lost preparing students for them.

All in all, I am excited and nervous about the changes: excited to have a more rigorous qualification that promotes fluency and problem-solving, but nervous that we have to get it right.

Craig Barton is an advanced skills teacher at Thornleigh Salesian College in Bolton and a TES secondary maths adviser. Find him on Twitter at @TESMaths

A look inside the new maths curriculumKey stages 1 and 2There are earlier and more challenging requirements for multiplication tables, which now go up to 12x12.The curriculum has clear expectations around written methods, in addition to mental methods.There is an earlier and more challenging requirement for understanding fractions and decimals.There is an increased requirement for pupils to use formulae for volume and to calculate the area of shapes other than squares and rectangles.Probability has been removed.There is an increased requirement for understanding of proportional reasoning - for example, through volume and calculations with fractions.Financial education has been reinforced, with a renewed emphasis on essential numeracy skills, using money and working with percentages.There is a strong implication that the use of calculators should be restricted until the later years of primary.There is a greater emphasis on the use of large numbers, algebra, ratio and proportion at an earlier age. Expectations for learning ratio and proportion have been accelerated since the initial draft of the curriculum.Roman numerals are introduced in Year 3.There is a focus on counting beyond whole numbers - for example, using decimals and fractions.Abstract symbols are introduced in Year 1.Data handling has decreased, but there is more reference to interpretation of data.Key stage 3The curriculum at secondary is less detailed than at primary level and is arranged by key stage - teachers will need to set out the detail in their school curriculum by year.There is a focus on consolidating understanding: KS3 builds on KS2.Probability and statistics are treated as two separate topics.Maths is set out in more detail than at present, albeit with less specification of generic skills.There is an increased level of challenge around the theory of number - achieved by introducing prime numbers and surds in KS3.There are increased requirements for algebra, geometry and measures, and for ratios, proportion and rates of change.There are raised expectations for achievement in probability.Financial education has been reinforced with a focus on solving problems involving percentage increases and decreases, simple interest and repeated growth.Compiled by Craig Barton, an advanced skills teacher at Thornleigh Salesian College in Bolton and a TES secondary maths adviserResourcesPrimary1. Complete comparisonCompare the objectives for numeracy in the 2006 primary framework with the new 2014 national curriculum.2. Term timeComprehensive Year 2 planning documents arranged by term.3. Work it outTry differentiated worksheets and planning materials for delivering the new curriculum in Year 3.4. Get in shapeGuidance notes on the changes to KS1 and KS2 geometry.5. Fraction formulaThis fractions advice highlights how to teach new concepts.Secondary1. Timely reminderKeep track of the curriculum changes with this timeline.2. Vocab visitsDevelop students' mathematical vocabulary with these booklets, which can be returned to throughout the year.3. Surd solutionIntroduce surds and the rules for manipulating and simplifying them with this PowerPoint.4. Tricks of the mindTeach students some simple tricks and tips for improving mental arithmetic.5. Data directionA lesson on displaying and understanding data.For more information, visit www.tesconnect.comnationalcurriculum2014

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