In their own words
Our Maths — No Problem! journey
At Iqra, the standards have always been good, particularly in maths. However, we have always aimed to develop a deeper understanding of the subject for the pupils beyond mastering procedures and algorithms! We therefore decided to introduce maths mastery as the new maths curriculum, in 2015. Welcome to a maths world where students think outside the box!
The MNP Approach to maths mastery is at the heart of the pedagogy of teaching all subjects in the school, particularly maths. This approach requires high expectations of all the children. We at Iqra believe that every child can learn and as a result teachers deploy various strategies to cater for the needs of all the children to achieve mastery and many more to explore the subject matter at a greater depth. Effective questioning is used as the main tool to facilitate children’s learning which encourages children to think and explore maths as problem solving.
What Ofsted had to say about the MNP approach at IQRA:
“Teachers are skilful in their questioning. They do not give pupils the answers or move on when a pupil may struggle. Similarly, teachers ask pupils, including the most able, questions where they have to explain and/or justify their thinking. Pupils are also encouraged to ask questions whenever they are unsure. Overall, the way teachers use questioning is highly effective and helps pupils to fully develop their knowledge and understanding to a deeper level. Pupils are confident mathematicians. Mathematics teaching is of the highest quality. Pupils have regular opportunities to apply their reasoning and logic skills. They know and use a range of mathematical concepts to solve problems. The challenging work given to the most able pupils stretches their understanding. Teachers actively choose to plan activities that mean pupils may make mistakes or will show whether pupils have misconceptions about their learning. Pupils are not afraid of making mistakes. Teachers use these opportunities to help pupils ‘master’ their knowledge and skills.”
Ofsted inspection team comments, 2017
Maths — No Problem! in our school
When we introduced maths mastery in 2015 across the school (YR to Y5), teachers felt they were deskilled in teaching maths. As a school community, all the staff received training on how to teach the MNP approach. It seemed like starting all over again… learning the basics of maths. Everyone realised the basics didn’t involve learning procedures. Instead, it involved learning the underpinning theories behind Singapore Maths, number sense, fluency, CPA approach, bar modelling, patterns and so on.
CPD for staff has been carefully planned over the years — as a result of which, the CPA approach is now embedded in every class from Reception to Year 6. Each class uses the textbooks and workbooks daily. We have also used the MNP assessment books for each year group.
All the teachers in the school have had extensive training from Dr Yeap Ban Har at the MNP training sessions (3 days) with regular in-house training in staff meetings and inset days. The headteacher and two members of staff have attended the textbook training and the early years training. Our teachers have also attended Three Bridges School for training and observations of lessons and have received one-to-one in-house training from maths experts from 3B.
IQRA has invested in the resources to compliment the approach and the teachers and children now have access to a range of manipulatives from place value counters and dienes blocks to fraction pieces and weights. We have a dedicated room that houses all the resources/hands-on manipulatives.
Each class has a range of accessible concrete materials which are used during the maths lessons. Our classes are equipped with the latest technology from which teachers can access APPS to provide children with a visual/pictorial representation.
Teachers as well as support staff understand that children learn from struggle and have made this a real focus in providing the children with an opportunity to be independent learners and thinkers. Each child has their own workbook, textbook and maths journal. Children are encouraged to find different methods, always with an emphasis on why they chose that method and work through the concrete, pictorial and abstract methods once they are secure in each approach.
Prior to Singapore Maths the lessons were not uniform and were focused more on learning procedures. The MNP approach provides a more in-depth understanding of the concepts being taught which is evident as the children move through the school. This has provided a positive impact on the achievement of the children. They are also now literate in maths language. The children understand the importance of explaining their thinking rather than just being able to provide the answer.
Maths leadership and partnership with other schools
We have created roles of Maths Lead and ‘Maths Expert’ in the school to continue to raise the profile of maths teaching using Singapore maths pedagogy. Our Maths Experts have developed an effective partnership with schools through a research project run by 3B. The aim is to form a long-standing group of schools interested in collaborative action research to continue to improve the teaching of maths in schools. The last two meetings were held in schools in Bath and York. It is a very exciting project which will further develop a strong maths team at IQRA, in addition to further deepening the pedagogy of maths across the school.