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Maths

Intent

We understand that many students arriving at St Matthias Academy feel that maths is, ‘not for them’ but we believe that maths is for everyone. On arrival at St Matthias Academy all pupils are baseline assessed in mathematics. This enables their future learning to be tailored to their needs, encouraging students to engage with, explore, enjoy and succeed in maths. Topics that pupils have missed covering, or that they find difficult, will be revisited. This supports a focus on number skills and a general reinforcement of maths skills and techniques that are designed to allow pupils to build the foundation upon which to improve their learning.

Every new body of discovery is mathematical in form, because there is no other guidance we can have. - Charles Darwin

 

Implementation

Maths is delivered on topic by topic basis that addresses the four main stands of maths, number, algebra, geometry and measure and statistics and data. These stands also incorporate the renewed focus on ratio and change and probability, which students will focus on in more depth in the KS4 curriculum. Discussion with maths departments of mainstream schools in Bristol has been key to helping choose which topics may need to be prioritised for shorter stay pupils. Numeracy is the common strand that binds these topics. In addition to the usual timetabled maths lessons, St Matthias also provides numeracy intervention and all pupils receive a weekly numeracy session which for many pupils focuses on improving working knowledge of times tables. We believe that teaching maths relies on a consistent, patient and confidence building approach, which encourages often very disaffected learners to enjoy the subject and learn that everyone is in some capacity a problem solver!

 

Impact

Re engagement is at the heart of what we do at St Matthias and this is our main goal in maths. We have students of all differing abilities and different levels of enjoyment in the subject and we try to cater for such differences. Our small class sizes allow us to make in lesson formative assessments, pick up on gaps in knowledge and address misconceptions quickly. We often see rapid progress because students that have lost their confidence are willing to engage in smaller classes and making mistakes does not feel such a hugely embarrassing problem. We hope that any student leaving us, never again utters those dreadful words “ I can’t do maths” because we believe, maths is for everyone.

The essence of mathematics is not to make simple things complicated, but to make complicated things simple. - S. Gudder

At GCSE Level we follow the Edexcel GCSE Mathematics, which has both a Foundation tier (grades 1 – 5) and a Higher tier (grades 4 – 9). In recent years the majority of pupils have been entered into the foundation level either because it best matches their ability, or their short stay at St Matthias, combined with previous lost learning time, has made it impossible to cover the large amount of content required for the higher tier – however this will always remain a decision made on a case by case basis taking into consideration pupil, teacher and parental input.

Content covered is listed below. However the temporary nature of pupil placements at the provision mean that decisions have to be made regarding which content is prioritised as it is unlikely that there will be enough learning time to cover every topic fully.

1 Number

2 Algebra

3 Ratio, proportion and rates of change

4 Geometry

5 Probability

6 Statistics

Edexcel foundation tier does not give these 6 content areas equal weighting. Appoximately 50% of the examinations will consist of just 2 topic areas – Number and Ratio, with a further 20% for Algebra. Consequently this is reflected in the prioritising of content delivery. This is again in line with both the teaching by and comments received from local mainstream schools. Increasingly the boundary between KS3 and KS4 in maths is less clearly defined than in previous years, in most schools pupil begin content from GCSE specifications in year 7 or 8. In line with this, St Matthias’ priority to number, ratio and algebra topics are also applied to a lesser extent to KS3 pupils to help them to prepare for future GCSE delivery.