Oral and mental mathematics is essential, particularly so in calculation. This lays the foundations by providing children with a good understanding of how the four operations build on efficient counting strategies and a secure knowledge of place value and number facts. Children use practical apparatus as the visual and kinesthetic ‘hook’ to help them process this understanding until such time as they feel confident in using other methods. Later learning and skill development must ensure that children recognise how the operations relate to one another and how the rules and laws of arithmetic are to be used and applied.
The ability to calculate mentally forms the basis of all methods of calculation and has to be maintained and refined. A good knowledge of numbers or a ‘feel’ for numbers is the product of structured practice and repetition. It requires an understanding of number patterns and relationships developed through directed enquiry, use of models and images and the application of acquired number knowledge and skills.
By the end of Key Stage 2, the great majority of children should be able to use an efficient written method for each operation with confidence and understanding. Children will develop the ability to use what are commonly known as ‘standard’ written methods – methods that are efficient and work for any calculations, including those that involve whole numbers or decimals. They are compact and consequently help children to keep track of their recorded steps. Being able to use these written methods gives children an efficient set of tools they can use when they are unable to carry out the calculation in their heads or do not have access to a calculator. We want children to know that they have such a reliable, written method to which they can turn when the need arises.
We have a clear calculation policy which develops skill progression in the strategies used to makes calculations. Our curriculum has a thorough coverage of all elements of mathematics and we use The Hamilton Trust programme to support the curriculum. Children engage daily in mental maths skills through timed papers, games paired work and challenges. The curriculum encourages problem solving and every two weeks children engage in what we refer to as Big Maths which is an extended problem solving activity. The maths curriculum crosses over in to many areas of learning so children apply skills in other areas of learning such as Science and Cookery. The children also use Mathletics, which is an online programme to help them hone their skills. They enjoy the challenges and can access this at home if they can access the internet.