How can I fit in the whole maths curriculum?

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Five top tips from Nicola Richards, Deputy Head and Nursery/Reception teacher, for fitting Maths into the curriculum, including advice for primary teachers to make teaching and learning stimulating and interesting.

Q: What are your five top tips for fitting maths into the curriculum?

1. I find it easier to map out the skills we need to cover across my long-term planning to ensure I am covering everything. In the school I am at, we have a two-year cycle for themes, so I know them throughout the school year. This gives me the foundation for my coverage map but it is also a working document so it may change.

This doesn’t mean I only cover a concept once, but it gives me a structure to follow, and I know at the end of the year my class will have covered all skills and had the opportunity to apply them. If I feel I need to reinforce a skill or concept, I work this in. 


2. The application of maths skills is so much easier in cross-curricular tasks. A rich cross-curricular task can give pupils the opportunity to apply a range of mathematical skills. For example, the theme for the term is ‘Happy and Healthy’.

In our Pupil Voice session, the children wanted to find out about different healthy foods. We took forward surveys with classmates and other pupils in the school and recorded the data on tally charts and bar charts. We did all this through the medium of Welsh as we were learning the Welsh fruit names and learnt them in sign language.

We visited a local greengrocer where we looked at the prices of fruit and purchased some fruit. This led us to use money to pay for real fruit and vegetables in our class shop, talk about the most expensive and who was first in line, etc. The whole mini-topic was rich in numeracy!


3. With younger children, whole-class teaching sessions can be difficult, so I break it up throughout the day. We like to use maths songs (counting in different steps, reciting days of the week/months, etc.) when we are getting ready for lunch. We go over our new concept for the week at different times during the day, and, when we are doing our maths-focused task, we get help from the practitioner. This enables us to keep all children on task and engaged.


4. Set tasks using continuous and enhanced provision, for example, using outdoor classrooms for the application of previously learnt skills. This allows children to develop and consolidate their knowledge. For example, we have explored traffic surveys from our school yard (we can look down on the road); shape hunts around our school; tally charts for different items we find in class; finding sets of natural objects outside - we love developing our numeracy and maths skills outside!


5. All tasks completed in class are shared with parents and carers - this enables them to continue to develop mathematical skills at home with the children. This is done on a weekly basis using an online sharing platform that parents and carers are given a code for. This means they are supporting their children at home and helping to consolidate the learning taking place in school.


Q: What is the one piece of advice you would give primary teachers when it comes to fitting everything in? 

In the school I teach at, we work on termly projects or ‘Destinations’. When we plan the topic/theme with the children, we plan a final project for the end of the term. The teaching and skill development for the whole term builds up to this final project and it is amazing how many skills and subject areas are covered in one project.   

Cross-curricular teaching allows teachers and students to teach and learn in a more stimulating and interesting way. This enables students to apply a wide range of skills from different subject areas. 

Last term, our theme was ‘A Dragon’s Roar’ and when completing the Pupil Voice session following our Immersion Day, some of the children talked about the dragon on the Welsh flag. This led to them talking about speaking Welsh and wanting to teach their parents some Welsh!  

We planned a Welsh parent workshop and for the weeks leading up to the event they sent emails inviting outside agencies and recorded voice messages inviting parents, learned how to make Welsh cakes, made sock puppets, and recorded examples of Welsh phrases and vocabulary. So many skills were developed from one idea! 


Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

  • Name: Nicola Richards
  • Role: Deputy Head and Nursery/Reception teacher at Caegarw Primary School in Mountain Ash in the South Wales valleys
  • Brief summary of your career: I have been teaching for 26 years now, and 25 years of that has been in Early Years Education. I taught for two years in Canvey Island in Essex before returning home to Wales to teach. Winning National Teacher of the Year in a Primary School at the Pearson National Teaching Awards has been the absolute highlight of my career to date!
  • What’s your favourite thing about maths? The patterns and predictability in it.
  • Why does maths matter? As I tell children in school, so much of what we do in our daily lives requires maths knowledge and skills!  
  • What do your students enjoy most about maths? The practical application of the skills and knowledge - especially in outdoor learning!