We focus on Mastery in mathematics, using the rigorous White Rose Maths programme. Closely linked to Singapore Math, this programme enables us to develop a whole-school culture of deep understanding, confidence and competence in maths. Importantly for us, the starting point for creating the White Rose programme was world-class research, which means we are working with how children’s brains work rather than against it.
Underpinning the concept of mastery is the CPA approach (concrete, pictorial, abstract) developed by American psychologist Jerome Bruner. This is an essential technique that builds on a child’s existing understanding to develop a deep and sustainable understanding of maths. Teaching of mathematical concepts is first introduced with concrete, hands-on experiences. This then progresses to the pictorial stage, with pupils drawing images and representational diagrams of the concrete materials, representing their understanding, before finally progressing to the abstract stage, using symbols and numbers. This supports and deepens understanding of abstract concepts, such as fractions, which if not fully understood can prove detrimental to mathematical progression in later years.
The CPA technique is used in a variety of contexts, requiring students to develop their fluency, reasoning and problem-solving skills. Students need to develop fluency within a mathematical concept and even more importantly, be able to transfer this understanding in order to use mathematics in the real-world: Mastery.
Pace is vital; we ensure that children have a solid understanding of key concepts before pushing them forwards. We make significant gains in the long run by not skimping on foundation-building. This supports achievement across all STEM subjects, as students can apply learning, in a variety of contexts, with ease.