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We believe that every child can master an understanding and love of maths with the right kind of teaching and support.

At St John with St Augustine CE Primary School we believe that Maths is a creative and fun subject where skills should be developed within a climate of trust and experimentation.  We believe that children should become fluent in core skills, developing conceptual knowledge in the objectives outlined within the Maths National Curriculum 2014.  The calculation policy we have devised provides an outline of expectation in the learning of numeracy skills.  These are developed through teaching the links between concepts, rehearsing facts and skills and exploring patterns and relationships with number.  We believe that children learn best where models and images are used alongside the use of practical materials to develop conceptual understanding and fluency of understanding core skills.  All pupils are expected to learn core facts in school and at home. We ask parents to support children in this important aspect of learning. 


Reasoning takes a high priority and children are encouraged to think deeply about the relationships between facts and concepts.  A climate of experimentation, individual, partner and group work, well timed adult support and questioning develop skills of reasoning which in turn builds tenacity within our mathematicians.


Problem solving is the ability to apply mathematical understanding to a variety of real life and imaginary situations. The teaching of a range of recording strategies to show understanding is valued.  Children are encouraged to draw pictures or symbols from an early age as they work through problems which then develop into systematic lists in investigations, tables and more formal calculations by the time children reach the juniors.

Maths No Problem
Maths — No Problem! is a comprehensive series that adopts a spiral design with carefully built-up mathematical concepts and processes adapted from the maths mastery approaches used in Singapore. The Concrete-Pictorial-Abstract (C-P-A) approach forms an integral part of the learning process through the materials developed for this series.

Maths — No Problem! incorporates the use of concrete aids and manipulatives, problem-solving and group work.
Singapore Maths Overview
Singapore has become a “laboratory of maths teaching” by incorporating established international research into a highly effective teaching approach. With its emphasis on teaching pupils to solve problems, Singapore Maths teaching is the envy of the world.

  • Singapore consistently top the international benchmarking studies for maths teaching
  • A highly effective approach to teaching maths based on research and evidence
  • Builds students’ mathematical fluency without the need for rote learning
  • Introduces new concepts using Bruner’s Concrete Pictorial Abstract (CPA) approach
  • Pupils learn to think mathematically as opposed to reciting formulas they don’t understand
  • Teaches mental strategies to solve problems such as drawing a bar model

The whole class works through the programme of study at the same pace with ample time on each topic before moving on. Ideas are revisited at higher levels as the curriculum spirals through the years. 

Differentiated Activities
Tasks and activities are designed to be easy for pupils to enter while still containing challenging components. For advanced learners, the textbooks also contain non-routine questions for pupils to develop their higher-order thinking skills.

Problem Solving
Lessons and activities are designed to be taught using problem-solving approaches to encourage pupils’ higher-level thinking. The focus is on working with pupils’ core competencies, building on what they know to develop their relational understanding, based on Richard Skemp’s work.

Concrete Pictorial Abstract (CPA) Approach
Based on Jerome Bruner’s work, pupils learn new concepts initially using concrete examples, such as counters, then progress to drawing pictorial representations before finally using more abstract symbols, such as the equals sign.

The questions and examples are carefully varied by expert authors to encourage pupils to think about the maths. Rather than provide mechanical repetition, the examples are designed to deepen pupils’ understanding and reveal misconceptions.

Number Bonds
What Are Number Bonds?
Number bonds are a way of showing how numbers can be combined or split up. They are used to reflect the 'part-part-whole' relationship of numbers.
Number bonds teach children how numbers join together and how they can be broken down into their component parts. From year 1, children use number bonds to build up their number sense before learning about addition and subtraction.

Where Do Number Bonds Come From?
Number bonds are a core element of teaching maths for mastery using Singapore Maths and have been part of Singapore’s primary curriculum since the early 1970s. However, the phrase ‘number bonds’ has been around since the 1920s and became widespread in the UK in the late 1990s as a way of developing mental arithmetic strategies.

How Do Number Bonds Look?
Number bonds are often represented by circles that are connected by lines as illustrated below. The ‘whole’ is written in the first circle and its ‘parts’ are written in the adjoining circles.

How Do Children Learn About Number Bonds?
Children are introduced to number bonds through the concrete, pictorial and abstract approach.

  • Concrete - Young children learn by counting real objects. Then they’ll use counters to represent the objects and start grouping them into two groups.
    • For example, by putting five counters into two groups, they will learn the different ways that five can be made. For example, 3 and 2 as illustrated below. With further exploration they’ll work out other ways to break the number up into two groups.
  • Pictorial - Having understood the concept with hands-on experiences children will now represent what they are doing by writing on whiteboards or other resources to create a number bond.
  • Abstract - At this stage, children are capable of representing problems by using mathematical notation, i.e 3 + 2 = 5


What Is CPA?
The concrete, pictorial and abstract approach allows for children to gain conceptual understanding in a gradual systematic approach.

Using concrete resources allows the opportunity for informal play, which is supported by the theory Zoltan Dienes. This should take place at the beginning of all learning as it gives pupils the opportunity to investigate a concept first and then make connections when formal methods are introduced through teaching. It also allows the pupil to become familiar with the resources and what they are representing.

This stage is vital for allowing children to show their understanding of a concept taught, for example in bar modelling when given the statement 23+21 and draws one bar much greater than the other, it highlights how the pupils hasn’t sufficiently understood that there is not much difference between the two numbers and therefore he bars will be similar in length, with one being only slightly shorter. It also continues to support children in sufficiently understanding process they need to go through in order to solve mathematical statements, for example when regrouping, the pupil will need to draw dienes or place value counters and then show the regrouping of a number through crossing out and re-drawing, reinforcing the concept.

The abstract stage often runs alongside the concrete, pictorial stage as children need to read mathematical statements and use the concrete resources or pictorial representations to show their understanding of the mathematical statement. So when teaching addition, for example, using dienes or drawing dienes the children do this alongside the formal written column method, which is abstract. 

Subject Leader – Mrs McLeod