“Power Maths – it’s every teacher’s dream!”
A Maths Lead’s reflections on Pearson’s new programme – Part 1
Mostaque Kamaly joint Maths Lead at Hague Primary School in Bethnal Green loves his subject, and has always encouraged his pupils to share his excitement and passion for the subject. However, he was concerned that as in so many schools across the UK, his school’s spiral curriculum meant that topics were covered only briefly before moving on to the next one. He felt that this often led to rather fragile learning in which children failed to see how concepts connect or how their own skills could build and progress). In addition, confidence and motivation were likely to be poorer, too.
Keen to develop deeper, richer and more enjoyable learning, Mostaque and his team began to use the popular, mastery-driven White Rose Maths (WRM) materials which covered the three key areas of fluency, reasoning and problem solving. Just what they were looking for. What’s more, Mostaque soon saw an opportunity to build on this strong foundation. He explains, “The WRM schemes were working well, but some teachers felt pressured by the challenge of teaching for mastery. I knew that to be even more successful with our maths, we needed a clear and consistent structure for lessons across the school. That’s when I discovered Power Maths – a comprehensive programme designed to synchronise perfectly with the White Rose Maths schemes.”
This article summarises how Power Maths works in the classroom, and records Mostaque’s observations, reflections and ideas on the programme and its impact.
A journey through a Power Maths lesson
Each maths lesson is divided into evidence-based sections and set out clearly in the textbooks (with plenty of advice and guidance from the Teacher Guides, too). Lessons are busy and interactive with children working independently, in pairs, in groups and as a class.
The lesson begins with a Power Up fluency task to sustain prior learning, consolidate number facts and establish the lesson’s confident, can-do tone.
Next, children share, explore and learn from a Discover problem, presented with some focused questions to guide their thinking. Mostaque observes. “Children have to grapple with this task, and consider how to show their understanding in different ways. Right there in front of you, the children are taking ownership – it’s fantastic!”
After the Discover stage, children discuss their learning in a Share activity. During this whole-class, interactive learning phase, children share their thinking and look for the best ways to solve the problem. Mostaque adds, “The Share section has the added benefit of allowing children to read the maths. All too often they focus on the abstract, numerical form such as 3 x 5 = 15, but a written problem makes very different demands on the children. I’m really enjoying the fact that we can teach children to use the right language, read the maths and see it in different forms at the same time.”
The lesson then moves into a Think Together section. “I love this!” reflects Mostaque. “It begins with a teacher-guided question followed by a problem for children to solve in collaboration with a partner, and finally an independent question. It develops the concrete problem through the pictorial and abstract (CPA) stages and there is clear progression within each lesson. The online guide gives fantastic scaffolding here.”
In the Practice section, children use the cleverly devised Practice Books to apply and rehearse what they’ve learned. “The carefully varied questions help children to understand the essential features of each concept and build their fluency.” notes Mostaque. “They push children that bit further. The questions are not what they’re expecting and they have to think a bit more! There’s always an ‘Even Deeper’ challenge question that links to other maths areas, too. Not every child will get to this point in every lesson but it’s great to have it readily available to further learners’ thinking.”
Finally, a Reflect section brings each lesson to a conclusion. “It’s not a traditional plenary: it involves everyone looking back on what they feel they’ve each learned, and it’s a great way of helping each child to understand and consolidate their learning.” observes Mostaque.
Part 2 of Mostaque’s blog will be published next week. Check back then to find out what effect Power Maths has had on progression and learn Mostaque’s top tips for implementing the programme.