Nick Gibb: Maths Reforms (London Thames Maths Hub Primary Conference)

Nick Gibb spoke at the London Thames Maths Hub Primary Conference last week about the changes and reforms to maths education within the National Curriculum. Whatever we might think of the changes, they are certainly far reaching and for this reason it is worth reading the original script.

At Flurrish we are highly focused upon primary numeracy skills and, in particular, number bonds and times tables. It's worth noting what Nick Gibb had to say about this part of the curriculum:

"We have introduced a new national curriculum, which is more detailed and more demanding, to reflect the mastery approach. Year 1 pupils are introduced to all 4 functions and to basic fractions. In year 2, basic columnar addition and subtraction is studied, with carrying and borrowing in year 3. In year 2 the teaching of times tables begins, and pupils are expected to know all of the times tables up to 12 x 12 by year 4.

Instant recall of facts like times tables is crucial because the working memory is small and so they need to be committed to long term memory, as explained by Daniel Willingham in his book 'Why don't students like school'. Such recall from long term memory is essential to be able to add fractions, and perform long multiplication and division, which pupils will be taught in year 5 and year 6. The year by year approach sets out greater clarity and the focus on fluency in the essentials of maths allows time for pupils to practise more to ensure deep knowledge. We are also expecting the majority of pupils to move through programmes of study at roughly the same pace."

This picks out some important points:

(1) Maths builds upon skills. Children will find it easier with later topics if they have mastered earlier ones.

(2) Times tables (and implicitly number bonds) need to be committed to implicit memory to ease later learning.

(3) Practise!

We don't disagree with any of those points - we'd also add that you can turn memorisation in to a lot of fun for children and boost their confidence. Number.fy seamlessly fits in to the classroom and delivers BIG TIME on FUN and, more importantly, IMPACT. The startling results at Caddington Village School show that you can use the same starter activities with Number.fy but dramatically increase the amount of practise. So much so that 65% of the class knew all their 12x tables by the end of Year 2.