How to design your maths curriculum Part 2: Implementation

RNick Hart - Deputy Headteacher at Penn Wood Primary School in Sloughead 'How to design your Maths Curriculum Part 1' here

With thanks to Nick Hart, Deputy Headteacher at Penn Wood Primary School in Slough, for this really interesting article.

Now you’ve decided the intent of your maths curriculum, read on for tips about successful implementation planning.

Using a scheme….Vs not using a scheme

Once leaders have decided the intent of their maths curriculum (beyond the national curriculum aims), they must ensure that implementation plans are sound so that the implemented curriculum is identical to the intended curriculum.  There are a number of ideas to consider here, the first being whether to use a published scheme and to what extent it will be used.  Some schemes have very prescriptive units of work, with lessons mapped out to the day for a whole year.  This represents a risk in that teachers could become deskilled in adapting sequences of lessons in light of what children have and have not yet mastered.  It could also be argued that such prescriptive schemes contribute to complacency, where teachers pick up off the shelf tasks for children and do not seek to adapt them in any way.  Of course, they may not always need adapting but if teachers develop the habit of using published resources without challenging their format or content, they may not be as effective as a teacher in exercising those habits.

At the other end of the spectrum, not using a scheme could result in a very inconsistent approach, with teachers trawling resource websites to find something suitable without any clear direction.  The decision making is relatively simple – leaders must evaluate whether a published scheme can deliver the curriculum intent.

The middle ground

Mastering MathsClearly, prescription can be a good thing.  It shows on the part of leadership that significant thought has gone into what children will learn and how they will acquire knowledge and understanding.  It also greatly reduces the likelihood of within school variability in the quality of maths provision.  Having said that, too much prescription can stifle and deskill teachers.  Sitting nicely between these poles is the Goldilocks of maths schemes – Rising Stars Mastering Maths.  It’s a flexible, easy to access bank of resources that teachers can use to make deliberate decisions about the learning of the children in their classes. 

Leaders’ need to set out how maths is taught

Leaders’ implementation plans need to go further still.  Leaders need to set out how maths is taught.  If this is clear and shared regularly, it provides a common language with which to talk about maths teaching as well as providing a focus for CPD.  This maths blueprint must include practices that a significant impact on learning by reducing cognitive load.  Expert modelling and explanations over worked examples should be number one on the list.  Concrete, pictorial and abstract representations must be included, as should daily review of previously covered concepts to make use of the testing effect.  Leaders will also have to make a decision about a consistent approach to differentiation.  That may be in the form of setting or it may be in the form of scaffolding tasks for those new to a concept and providing opportunities for deeper thinking for those who grasp concepts quickly.

Sharing the implementation plan with teachers

When leaders have mapped out what maths teaching will look like, part of the implementation plan needs to be how they will get this message across to teachers.  Leaders will likely consider a combination of INSET time to present and discuss strategies; setting some personal reading tasks; ensuring that there is adequate time for teachers to see those strategies modelled in the classroom by experts and then supported through coaching to refine their own practice.  These CPD practices are a crucial part of the implementation plan that leaders must consider but there is still more.  The implementation plan must also include how these expectations of what will happen in classrooms will be monitored.  Different aspects will need different monitoring activities.  For example, quality assuring teachers’ explanations clearly requires observing, whereas the CPA approach can be monitored through looking at books.  The point is that leaders’ monitoring practices must be driven by careful thought about what information needs collecting and finding the most efficient way of getting that information.

How do you know your intended and implemented curriculum is successful?

How do you know your intended and implemented curriculum is successful?Leaders must finally give thought to how they know that their intended and implemented curriculum actually transfers into children getting better at maths.  The assessment schedule that leaders design must be driven by the curriculum and not the other way around.  Teachers must check whether what they have taught has been understood in the first instance and thereafter whether it can be applied and lastly whether it has been retained.  An assessment system should seek to ascertain the extent to which those 3 things have happened.  There is still a place for assessments that test a broader sample of the mathematics curriculum but leaders must be very clear about which assessments are being used and why.  It is the ‘why’ that is important – assessments should feed back into the teaching. 

Be deliberate

Throughout leaders’ decision making, what is important is that every choice is deliberate – deliberate intent, deliberate implementation and deliberate assessment of what has been learned.
Why not take a look at some of the supplementary resources that you can use to help plan your implementation


Mastering Maths, mastery, Maths, Maths Mastery, plans, Teaching

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