Binley Woods Primary School
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Binley Woods Primary School
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Maths at Binley Woods Primary School


At Binley Woods Primary School we have a mastery approach to teaching Maths with the help of Mathematics Mastery, a professional development programme for teachers.


Our Mathematics curricular principles are:

  1. Fewer topics in greater depth
  2. Mastery for all pupils
  3. Number sense and place value come first
  4. Problem solving is central


The ‘mastery approach’ to teaching maths means that instead of learning mathematical procedures by rote, we want pupils to build a deep conceptual understanding of concepts which will enable them to apply their learning in different situations.


Our Maths curriculum is cumulative - each school year begins with a focus on the concepts and skills that have the most connections, which are then applied and connected throughout the school year to consolidate learning. This gives pupils the opportunity to ‘master maths’; by using previous learning throughout the school year, they are able to develop mathematical fluency and conceptual understanding. Problem solving is woven throughout the mathematics curriculum and is used continually through lessons to help deepen children’s understanding.


So how do we avoid teaching procedures and instead get pupils to develop a deep understanding in mathematics?

We use ideas called Dimensions of Depth to deepen pupils’ understanding. These are:


1. Conceptual understanding

At Binley Woods we use a Concrete-Pictorial-Abstract (CPA) approach to teaching mathematical concepts. Reinforcement of learning is achieved by going back and forth between these representations, building pupils' conceptual understanding instead of an understanding based on completing mathematical procedures.

  • Concrete - the doing: A pupil is introduced to an idea or a skill by acting it out with real objects. This is a 'hands on' component using real objects and it is the foundation for conceptual understanding. 'Concrete' refers to objects such as Dienes apparatus, fraction tiles, counters, or other objects that can be physically manipulated.
  • Pictorial - the seeing: A pupil may also begin to relate their understanding to pictorial representations, such as a diagram or picture of the problem.
  • Abstract - the symbolic: A pupil is now capable of representing problems by using mathematical notation, for example: 12 ÷ 2 = 6. This is the most formal and efficient stage of mathematical understanding. Abstract representations can simply be an efficient way of recording the maths, without being the actual maths.


2. Language and communication

The way pupils speak and write about mathematics has been shown to have an impact on their success in mathematics (Morgan, 1995; Gergen, 1995). We therefore use a carefully sequenced, structured approach to introducing and reinforcing mathematical vocabulary throughout maths lessons, so pupils have the opportunity to work with word problems from the beginning of their learning.


Every Mathematics Mastery lesson provides opportunities for pupils to communicate and develop mathematical language through:

  • Sharing the key vocabulary at the beginning of every lesson and insisting on its use throughout;
  • Modelling clear sentence structures and expecting pupils to respond using a full sentence;
  • Talk Task activities, allowing pupils to discuss their thinking and reasoning of the concepts being presented;
  • Plenaries (short activity during or at the end of the lesson) which give a further opportunity to assess understanding through pupil explanations.


3. Mathematical thinking

We want children to think like mathematicians, not just DO the maths.

We believe that pupils should:

  • Explore, wonder, question and conjecture,
  • Compare, classify, sort,
  • Experiment, play with possibilities, vary an aspect and see what happens,
  • Make theories and predictions and act purposefully to see what happens, generalise.


It is important that we support all pupils in developing their mathematical thinking, both in order to improve the way in which they learn, as well as the learning itself.


At the present moment we have rolled the Mathematics Mastery programme up through school from Reception to Year 5. From September 2019 Year 6 will also be taking part in the programme. Year 6 still follow the principles above as the rest of the year groups do and work using a mastery approach.

Maths Meetings

Maths Meetings are a vital part of our maths teaching and are used to consolidate key learning. Each Maths Meeting lasts between 5 and 15 minutes and they happen regularly throughout the week. Each year group in school from Reception to Year 6 participate in Maths Meetings.


Maths Meetings provide an opportunity to teach and revise 'general knowledge maths' which may not explicitly be covered during the maths lessons that week, such as telling the time, and also allows the daily integration of maths into the surrounding environment. This means that children are practising concepts and skills on a regular basis, meaning they are continually building on their mastery of these concepts.


Progression in Calculations

Vocabulary List for Mathematics

Support for Parents and Carers

Please see below for games and links that might help you to support your child at home with Mathematics. 

Try playing these number games at home.

Interactive games and activities to try out!
Growing Every Child
  • Binley Woods Primary School,
  • Coombe Drive, Binley Woods, Coventry,
  • Warwickshire, CV3 2QU
  • | Tel: 0247 6543 754
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