We want to make sure that every child receives the best possible experience in Maths and is able to reach his or her potential in a supportive, high-quality environment where mistakes are valued, struggle is seen as part of learning and everyone is challenged.

 

  • The National Curriculum expects all children to be taught the content from their year group. All children are aiming for the expected standard for their age.  Acceleration beyond this content is a feature of the past. Children should all be given the opportunity for deepening their understanding of this content.
  • Sets have a limited number of children in them. Whilst parents are often told that if children do well they can move up, in reality this is very rare.  Children who move down experience disruptions in confidence, and children in high sets (particularly girls) can experience anxiety related to the expectation that they should know and understand all areas of maths quickly and easily.
  • Whilst children in a single set can be immensely varied in their needs, schools rarely recognise this and cater for it in the way they would do in a mixed group.
  • Teachers being able to plan together helps secure good teaching for all pupils because in-school variation is minimised.
  • Mixed groupings help to promote the expectation that everybody has strengths in certain areas, and may need help in others. It is made acceptable to seek support or access resources without shame or anxiety.
  • The most talented mathematicians benefit from revisiting core concepts underlying the understanding of mathematics and problem solving, which can often be overlooked by teachers of upper sets.
  • The weakest mathematicians benefit from the high quality dialogue that takes place in a mathematically-rich environment.
  • Stronger mathematicians benefit from working with their peers – you have to be able to really understand something before you can explain it to someone else. One of the characteristics of deep learners is their ability to explain and articulate their maths knowledge.
  • The idea that ‘ability’ is fixed is unproven, current research evidences that the brain is elastic and will grow in response to nurture and challenge. Placing children in sets increases children’s perception that they are ‘stuck’ with the ability they currently have – excluding a range of other factors that will contribute to their success as both learners and people in later life as they meet their future challenges. This is relevant for all learners.
  • Responsive Teaching models and Assessment for Learning mean that children can easily move at their own pace to a deeper understanding as soon as they are ready, by moving on to more challenging material. We teach to that challenge level whilst ‘scooping up’ to close gaps in understanding. Fluid groupings mean that children do not view their ability as fixed, even within the mixed classroom. Typically pupils have mixed profiles in maths being strong in some areas, relatively weaker in others, a responsive model recognises this.  Grouping by topic or in response to marking is an expected feature of Responsive Teaching.
  • Educational research, evidence based practice and the most advanced understandings of brain science are important to us. We know that the research supports mixed teaching and that the evidence for the benefits of sets is weak, even for the most talented pupils, particularly in the primary age-range.
  • We are committed to ensuring that all pupils are challenged, secure in their understanding without moving on prematurely and believe that equality of opportunity is a moral obligation for schools.
  • We are confident that by teachers working together we can develop, monitor and keep improving the knowledge and working practices of mathematics teachers who are delivering the National Curriculum in our school.
  • Given that we have been teaching maths in this way for one year, last year’s year 6 data indicates that, in comparison with other middle schools all pupils are attain well, including those with higher attainment at KS1.
  • Having taught English in classes for a significant number of years we can see that pupils benefit from being taught by their class teacher who understands them best as learners.