I’m sure you’ve encountered this experience before. A parent informs you that their child is way ahead of their current year group in maths. They’re convinced that, if this child is in Year 4 for example, they need Year 5 or Year 6 work to maintain their level of progress.
The old national curriculum encouraged this idea. Here, learners moved steadily upwards, preferably one level each academic year. Not achieving this in your classroom essentially meant you didn’t maintain their level of progress up to that point.
The new 2014 national curriculum tells a different story; encouraging teaching for depth over acceleration. This framework supports a more forward-thinking approach:
“Pupils who grasp concepts rapidly should be challenged through being offered rich and sophisticated problems before any acceleration through new content.”
Accelerating beyond a child’s age group leads to short-term progress, but it can also mean many basic ideas and procedures aren’t mastered in depth. You’ll see learners’ progress (and presumably confidence) start to tail off.
The path to mathematical fluency isn’t a series of linear levels. Think of it as a web where learners can identify and link together multiple methods and patterns to fully embed understanding.