The intent of the Mathematics curriculum at Newton Abbot College is to enable students to understand the many ways in which Mathematics impacts them and how it can be used to make informed decisions that will improve their future.We want all of our students to live life to the full and be able to take the next step in their educational and life journey. This is more than just examination results: it also encompasses the problem solving and mathematical reasoning skills that run throughout the Mathematics curriculum at Newton Abbot College. Our curriculum enables students to master concepts and ideas, revisiting topics to ensure that a greater depth of knowledge is gained.
In line with our whole-school intent, the principles which underpin our maths curriculum are:
Focused and balanced: our curriculum is coherently planned and sequenced ensuring students revisit topics and concepts regularly to build their knowledge and skills cohesively over time. Throughout the curriculum, students study all of the main concepts in mathematics such as number, algebra, geometry, probability and ratio.
Appropriate and inclusive: students’ prior attainment does not limit their potential. Topics are taught to all sets at broadly the same time, allowing setting and tier of entry decisions to be fluid. Students take responsibility for their own learning and we put no limits on their own understanding. Our curriculum is adapted, designed and developed for students with special educational needs and those who may be disadvantaged. Within the Scheme of Learning there are different bands that allow teachers to move between different levels of difficulty to best suit the needs of individuals and classes of students.
Our approach to teaching is underpinned by many of the central tenets of ‘mastery’. We know that students arrive with us at very different starting points and we group students accordingly. This allows us to ambitiously teach for understanding; we do not use tricks or gimmicks which only develop partial, or no, understanding of the underlying mathematical principles. Working collaboratively as a department, we constantly refine and develop our approach to teaching calculations so that students can genuinely understand the why and not just the how of mathematical processes.
Our teachers utilise the Newton Abbot College Lesson Framework of Excellence in every lesson and sequence of lessons to gradually increase student independence and quickly ascertain where misconceptions are. Problem solving and reasoning is embedded into the curriculum. We do this through using a variety of different sources of high-level questions, including tasks which have a low threshold but high ceiling. This includes the regular use of the adaptive digital learning platform, Sparx, in our lessons. This is a tool that allows great variety and challenge for all students and has increased the understanding of students on many key concepts.
Impact of our curriculum
Formative assessment is embedded into all mathematics lessons. Teachers adapt their teaching based on assessment, whether this is more formal through low stakes quizzes or through circulating and reviewing students’ work live during a lesson. Teachers’ formative assessment plays an important part of knowing our impact as a department. Spaced retrieval of topics in regular do now tasks allows teachers to make judgements on learning over time, rather than in the moment performance, which can then be used to ensure that students learn more and understand more as their knowledge and skills build over time. Our impact can also be seen through the summative assessment cycles and through GCSE examination results. We are proud of the achievements of our students in the examination hall, but equally recognise that this is one part of recognising their success. Fundamentally, our impact can be seen in the lifelong skills that students develop through our curriculum, allowing them to leave us taking an ambitious next step in their education and leaving them with the skills to live life to the full.