Mathematics at Underwood West Academy

Underwood West Academy follows a “teaching for depth” approach to mathematics, which is sometimes termed “mastery”. This approach enables all children to master the mathematics curriculum. It draws heavily upon research conducted by the EEF (Education Endowment Fund) and their recommendations.

Statement of intent

Underwood West Academy recognises that maths is both a key skill within school, and a life skill to be utilised through everyday experiences. A high-quality maths education provides a firm foundation for understanding how maths is used in everyday life and activities, developing pupils’ ability to reason mathematically.

Through the teaching of maths, we aim to develop:

  • A positive attitude towards maths and an awareness of the relevance of maths in the real world.

  • A process of enquiry and experiment.

  • An ability to solve problems and think logically in order to work systematically and accurately.

  • An ability to work both independently and in cooperation with others.

  • Competence and confidence in pupils’ maths knowledge, concepts and skills.

  • An appreciation of the creative aspects of maths and an awareness of its aesthetic appeal.

Curriculum Design & Implementation

At Underwood West Academy, children study mathematics daily following the White Rose Maths Scheme of Learning. WRM is a blocked scheme, which allows for depth and breadth of learning within each strand of mathematics.

Our Mastery Approach

Teachers teach topics until they feel that an appropriate depth of understanding has been achieved by the vast majority of the group. Gaps in learning are identified in a timely manner by teachers and addressed through “Same day or Pre-Teach interventions”.

Children use concrete, pictorial and abstract models for each topic as appropriate to the learning context. Research conducted by the EEF underpins our expectation that a variety of manipulatives and representations will be used in all year groups and with children at all levels of attainment to support learning before procedural methods are used. This allows children to select from a range of strategies for both efficiency and to support success.

Procedural methods for calculation are taught alongside mental and structural methods for fluency and variation.  Children will be expected to apply this learning within a range of contexts rather than completing extended procedural practice. Fluency does not equate to speed but to efficient choice of strategy which may well increase speed, particularly when trying to recall times tables.

Maths Lesson Structure

We feel that the structure of most lessons is important in providing the right sort of opportunities for children to develop their mathematical skills. 


A typical lesson might include: 

Flashback 4 

4 Questions revisiting previous learning from different topics. 


Link to prior learning

Bridging back -This might be revisiting something that we did yesterday as a class or in groups. It might be some children responding to marking while others work with the teacher on a problem or it might be looking at something that we did yesterday in a different way. Activation of prior knowledge of task, strategy and self may also form part of this activity.



Main Lesson

This is by far the longest part of the lesson. The teacher models ideas and poses problems, the children model them on their tables or on whiteboards with manipulatives and they share their misconceptions and good ideas collaboratively.  The teacher moves them on slowly as they gain a deeper understanding of each small step from modelling it concretely to showing the concept in different pictorial and then abstract representations.  The teacher varies the problems that they work on in pairs and groups in small ways so as to reveal the mathematical concepts behind them. Skilful questioning and maths talk is important. There may be a series of activities with a balance of direct instruction and collaboration and dialogue aimed at unpicking the small step around which the lesson is based. Mistakes are valued and celebrated. Unpicking misconceptions so that children evaluate their thinking is vital in scaffolding children towards greater independent evaluation and learning.


Independent Task   

Children need to show what they have learned. In the past, we might have thought that getting them to do ten examples of the same type of question whilst varying the numbers would show that they had learned a skill. But based on research, we now now that they should be asked to answer and record fewer questions but each one should vary in the type of reasoning that it asks children to do.  We call this “spinning” the questions.  Typically, three questions are usually enough – one similar to whay they have worked on in the lesson (all children should be able to do the first Q on the sheet) and the other two questions will have a slightly different “spin” each time.  
Having this difference in reasoning allows us to see that the children can apply what they have learned flexibly to demonstrate that they have understood it fluently rather than superficially.  If children can understand the concept in different ways, in different contexts and with different types of reasoning, the concept has probably been learned – embedded in their long-term memory.

Marking is timely and allows children to complete, correct and go deeper with their learning. Sometimes this may be more or less frequent, but should not be a barrier to motivation and enjoyment. The aim of this is not simply for correction, but for recall, reflection and self-monitoring.

There will be times when this lesson structure does not suit the learning taking place. When longer investigations, games or kinaesthetic activities are taking place, the structure will be that which best suits the learning process.


When teachers can, they offer timely, sometimes same day or prior to the next lesson, intervention to ensure gaps and misconceptions are addressed before moving on. This type of feedback relates to and produces improvement in the child’s learning.

 Concrete, Pictorial and Abstract Learning: Children engage with a wide and varied range of concrete manipulatives, pictorial representations and abstract methodologies within each session. Cohesive use of CPA is a fundamental part of mastery in mathematics for all learners, not just those pupils with SEND. Concrete and pictorial references scaffold and strengthen understanding and are widely used as a teaching and learning tool from Foundation Stage to Year 6.

 Fluency, Reasoning and Problem Solving: Every learning session includes the opportunity to develop fluency skills, construct chains of reasoning using relevant knowledge alongside relevant terminology and solve increasingly complex problems in a systematic and coherent way. 

Mathematical Vocabulary: Sessions include explicit reference to vital mathematical vocabulary and the use of stem sentences to support and encourage all children to communicate their ideas with mathematical precision and clarity. These sentence structures often express key conceptual ideas or generalities and provide a framework to embed conceptual knowledge and build understanding. 

Fluent Recall: We are committed to ensuring that pupils secure their knowledge of Times Tables and Related Divisional Facts by the end of Year 4. Our pupils engage in regular low stakes testing through Times Tables Rock Stars, both in school and at home, to practice fluent recall. Please click here for games which you can play at home to help your child to practice their times tables.

Mastering Number Programme In addition to the main maths lesson in Year 1 and 2 we also follow the Mastering Number Programme written by NCETM. This is delivered separately from the maths lesson. It is aimed at strengthening the understanding of number, and fluency with number facts, among children in the first three years of school.

EYFS At Underwood West Academy we understand the importance of early experiences of maths, and use ‘Mastering Number Programme’ from the NCETM within our Early Years setting. This approach places a significant emphasis on developing a strong grounding in number – understanding that this is a necessary building block for children to excel in the subject. The two key ELG’s for mathematics are: 1. Number: Number composition, subitising, recall of bonds to 5 and 10 and doubling 2. Numerical Pattern: Verbally count beyond 20, Compare quantities, explore and represent patterns. Teachers provide creative and engaging opportunities for children to ignite their curiosity and enthusiasm for the subject, while focusing on the three prime areas of: Communication and Language, Physical Development and PSED. Activities and experiences are frequent and varied, and allow children to build on and apply understanding of Numbers to 10. Concrete manipulatives are a key focus within sessions, as is the use of pictorial representations including Tens Frames and Part/Whole Models. Children are actively encouraged to use mathematical terminology within their understanding, with a focus on developing positive attitudes and interest in the subject.

 Curriculum Impact

At Underwood West Academy, the expectation is that the majority of pupils will move through the programmes of study at broadly the same pace. We aim for each child to be confident in each yearly objective and develop their ability to use this knowledge to develop a greater depth understanding to solve varied fluency problems as well as problem solving and reasoning questions. However, decisions about when to progress should always be based on the security of pupils’ understanding and their readiness to progress to the next stage. Small steps for both conceptual and procedural understanding are planned for, giving due consideration to common misconceptions that are likely to occur. Pupils who grasp concepts rapidly are challenged through deeper problems before any acceleration through new content. Those who are not sufficiently fluent with earlier material consolidate their understanding, through additional practice, before moving on. Where necessary, earlier material should consolidate their understanding, including through additional practice, before moving on. Use is also made of the ‘Ready to Progress Materials’ provided by the NCETM.

Formative Assessment: Teachers carry out formative assessment through AfL in each session and feedback is given to children verbally, through self/peer assessment and through marking. Teachers then use this assessment to influence their planning. Children are rapidly identified as needing further challenge or additional support, and we ensure that this is provided in a timely manner through ‘same day intervention’.

Timely Interventions: Teachers believe that all children can achieve in maths, and focus on whole class teaching. Where prerequisites are not secure, timely interventions will be carried out. Our interventions are focused on Pre-Teaching and Same Day Interventions.

Summative Assessments: Children complete End of Block assessments for each phase of learning. Results are used to further inform planning and allow for tailored interventions groups to take place to ensure the objectives are secured. Assessments are also carried out in Autumn, Spring and Summer terms.

 Subject Monitoring: We regularly monitor the quality and impact of our mathematics curriculum through targeted learning walks, book scrutiny and pupil interviews. In addition to this, we survey our staff and pupils to identify their perception of mathematics and identify CPD needs.

Parents We understand that many parents feel like maths has changed and that it’s sometimes difficult to keep up to date with modern teaching methods. White Rose maths has teamed up with TV presenter, teacher and parent Michael Underwood to bring you a mini-series called Maths with Michael. In these videos they talk about the different themes in maths. Please click the link below

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Newcastle Street, Crewe, Cheshire, CW1 3LF

Please direct your enquiries to

Mel JamesBursar

01270 260580