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Pupils in a lesson at Willow Tree Primary School


Willow Tree is currently in a process of transition to a new maths mastery curriculum based upon the Singapore approach to teaching mathematics. During this transitional phrase (up to the end of the 2017-2018 academic year) the children in Year 5 & 6 will continue to be taught mathematics based on the Lancashire Planning medium term plans. All other year groups will be taught using the Singapore approach to teaching mathematics.

What is ‘Singapore Maths’?

The Singapore approach to mathematics teaches pupils to understand maths in stages, beginning with concrete (using counters, Base 10, number disks and so on), then moving to pictorial (solving problems where pictures are involved), and finally working in the abstract (where numbers represent symbolic values). Through this process, children learn numerous strategies to work with numbers and build understanding and confidence in maths.

The whole class works through the programme of study at the same pace with ample time and practice in each topic before moving on. The concept of teaching to mastery is to ensure that topics are well developed so an idea is well formed then reinforced by lots of practice over a series of lessons.

What would you see in a Maths lesson based on the Singapore approach?

Each lesson is divided into distinct parts: an anchor task, guided practice and independent practice. During the anchor task, children work in groups on a problem from the textbook. In the guided practice section, children work through further questions from the textbook with a partner but under the guidance of the teacher, to practise an idea that has been developed in the anchor task. The final section of the lesson is independent practice where the children work in their own workbook to apply the ideas taught in that lesson.

Within a mastery curriculum, the differing abilities of the children within our school will be catered for through the questioning and scaffolding individual pupils receive in class as they work through problems. Higher attainers will be challenged through more demanding problems which deepen their knowledge of the content. Where children are struggling, they will receive rapid intervention to support them to keep pace with their peers.

For more information, please feel free to talk to the staff in school or visit the ‘Maths - No Problem!’ website which includes a range of videos about the ideas behind the Singapore Maths approach.