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Traditionally, Maths has been taught by memorising key facts and procedures, which tends to lead to superficial understanding that can easily be forgotten. At The John Wesley CEM Primary School (JWS), we believe that children should be able to select which mathematical approach is most effective in different scenarios.

All pupils can achieve in mathematics. A typical Maths lesson will provide the opportunity for ALL children, regardless of their ability, to work through Fluency, Reasoning AND Problem Solving activities. At JWS we use a variety of resources to achieve this.

White Rose Maths has used the National Curriculum to design their very own programme created to encourage children to have a deeper understanding about what they are learning. It allows for children to become secure in not only the procedural part of their mathematics but their reasoning as to why ‘maths’ happens the way it does. 


Maths is a journey and long-term goal, achieved through exploration, clarification, practice and application over time. At each stage of learning, children should be able to demonstrate a deep, conceptual understanding of the topic and be able to build on this over time.

There are 3 levels of learning:

  • Shallow learning: surface, temporary, often lost 
  • Deep learning: it sticks, can be recalled and used
  • Deepest learning: can be transferred and applied in different contexts
    The deep and deepest levels are what we are aiming for by teaching maths using the Mastery approach.

Mastery approach

“Mastering maths means pupils acquiring a deep, long-term, secure and adaptable understanding of the subject.” - NCETM website
The phrase ‘Teaching for Mastery’ describes the elements of classroom practice and school organisation that combine to give pupils the best chances of mastering maths. Achieving mastery means acquiring a solid enough understanding of the maths that’s been taught to enable pupils to move on to more advanced material.


Concrete, pictorial, abstract
Objects, pictures, words, numbers and symbols are everywhere. The mastery approach incorporates all of these to help children explore and demonstrate mathematical ideas, enrich their learning experience and deepen understanding. Together, these elements help cement knowledge so pupils truly understand what they’ve learnt.
All pupils, when introduced to a key new concept, should have the opportunity to build competency in this topic by taking this approach. Pupils are encouraged to physically represent mathematical concepts. Objects and pictures are used to demonstrate and visualise abstract ideas, alongside numbers and symbols.
Concrete – children have the opportunity to use concrete objects and manipulatives to help them understand and explain what they are doing.
Pictorial – children then build on this concrete approach by using pictorial representations, which can then be used to reason and solve problems.
Abstract – With the foundations firmly laid, children can move to an abstract approach using numbers and key concepts with confidence.


  • Quick recall of facts and procedures
  • The flexibility and fluidity to move between different contexts and representations of mathematics
  • The ability to recognise relationships and make connections in mathematics

A mathematical concept or skill has been mastered when a child can show it in multiple ways, using the mathematical language to explain their ideas, and can independently apply the concept to new problems in unfamiliar situations.

Importance of times tables

There is no doubt in our minds that times tables are one of the essential building blocks of a child’s understanding. Being able to rapidly repeat the tables facts and their related inverse increases a child’s confidence when dealing with harder problems as well as increase in the rate of which they can process the answer. Column methods, fractions, derived factors, division and many other branches of the curriculum require the use of times tables.

The government have introduced an assessment known as the ‘Multiplication Tables Check’ (MTC) to identify if year 4 pupils can fluently recall the multiplication facts up to and including 12 x 12  .The test will take no longer than 5 minutes. The test will be comprised of 25 questions and 6 seconds to answer each question. The test will be completed on a screen as opposed to other paper assessment.

Learning times tables is a top priority in most schools, with added assistance from home learning, confidence and competence of multiplication facts. Tables should be practised every day for 10 - 15 minutes. They can be practised in a number of different ways to prevent boredom.

Times Table Rock Stars

We are very pleased to have introduced Times Tables Rock Stars into JWS. An online tool to create some excitement and enjoyment around learning times tables. All children from year 1 - 6 should now have their own login details made up of a username and a password. We are hoping that the children will have access at home to the website or app to increase their confidence when recalling facts.