Q: What are your five top tips for fitting maths into the curriculum?
1. An obvious one, but make sure it is given the time every day. At least an hour of maths is so important to help set children up with the numeracy skills they need to do well during their time at school and after they leave. Numbers are all around us, all day, so maths is vital. Review your schedule at the beginning of the week and adjust priorities if needed.
2. Try and get more maths into the curriculum where you can. For example, if you are using graphs in science, try and cover some of the maths objectives there. When lining up for lunch, get the children chanting multiplication tables. Find bright, practical numeracy posters to display throughout the school, and prompt your pupils to engage with them. These could refer to dates in history, the numbers of legs on insects, counting ingredients for recipes, and much more. There are so many opportunities to get maths into the day.
3. Do Early Bird maths! Get the children in the classroom first thing and get them doing maths! Rather than spending time chatting around the coat pegs or comparing lunch treats, it’s straight in and straight on. 20 minutes extra a day, equates to an extra 60 hours over the year!
We were introduced to Early Bird maths by Chris Dyson, who was the headteacher at Parklands Primary School in Leeds and is now Deputy CEO of Create Partnership Trust. Those little moments are a great opportunity to get children started and thinking about numbers: after all, the minute we wake up and look at the time on the clock, we’re doing maths!
4. Make sure plenty of time is given to place value and number at the beginning of autumn and spring terms and make sure the children feel as comfortable with these as possible before you move on. If you feel it is needed, take time for relaxed tests and fun challenges to check their progress in these areas, and to help identify any children who could need extra support. Other areas are made easier if more time is given to these units.
5. For the rest of the year, there will be times in certain units where you will have to move on or you really won’t fit it all in. Note down any learning gaps and come back to it later in the year or even better by using weekly intervention sessions. You might find it helpful to speak with parents/carers in certain cases, to make them aware of any particular numeracy issues, and enlist their support.
Q: What is the one piece of advice you would give primary teachers when it comes to fitting everything in?
My advice would be to not worry so much about fitting everything in. You’ll find as the year goes on that some units take longer and some can be done in less time. If you really are struggling for time, ensure most time is given to place value and number, as a strong grasp in these areas can make other units easier.