Our aim at Otterburn Primary is to equip all pupils with the skills and confidence to solve a range of problems through fluency with numbers and mathematical reasoning. Alongside these key skills, we also strive to instil in our children a love of maths; the ability to see the possibilities and creativity in the maths around us, to be intrigued and to wonder about maths. 

At Otterburn  we are in our third year of our mastery journey to improve the teaching and learning of mathematics. Using this approach, which involves small steps with varied representations and structures, we are confident that we can build solid foundations from which our pupils can grow as mathematicians. Our school is part of the Teaching for Mastery programme run by Great North Maths Hub. Through attending Teacher Research Groups supported by a Mastery Specialist, we will further develop our classroom practice based on current recognised pedagogy.


At Otterburn we use a concrete pictorial-abstract approach to achieve mastery and depth for all children starting with developing a child’s ‘number sense’ in EYFS. With an emphasis on problem solving, children are taught to visualise, to make connections and to communicate their understanding both verbally and in written form. Topics are taught in extended blocks in order to allow sufficient time for children to practise, refine and ultimately master concepts and processes. They are carefully sequenced so that skills and knowledge are continually revisited and applied through procedural and conceptual variation. 

Lessons are carefully designed to ensure all children access rich, problem solving tasks and do not just focus on development of procedural fluency. Teachers use assessment for learning to determine whether in the lesson children need further guided practice or independent practice. Through this approach, no child is given a predetermined label based on prior attainment and all children’s needs are met. 

There is a whole school focus on developing an instant recall of key facts, such as number bonds, times tables. However, we recognise that fluency is not just about remembering facts so we develop all aspects of fluency in lessons - accuracy, flexibility and efficiency. 

Lessons include activities designed to build fluency, spot patterns and make connections. Reasoning style question (Sometimes, Always, Never; What’s the same, what’s different?; What is it not?; Odd one out, True or False) This provides good opportunities for mathematical thinking, reasoning and explaining. Some of this work may be recorded in books but also through photographs and post it notes/teacher scribe. 


Teachers use carefully chosen representations (manipulatives and images) in all year groups including EYFS and with all abilities to explore concepts. Teachers use questioning throughout every lesson to check understanding and dig deeper. Children are asked to explain their thinking and errors are valued as an opportunity to clarify misconceptions. Throughout lessons, pupils have opportunities to talk to their partners and explain/clarify their thinking. They are also encouraged to mark their own and each other's work in order to improve their understanding and reflect back to the teacher what they have learnt and where they went wrong. Teachers provide the opportunities for children to experience maths at a deeper level of understanding by asking questions such as: 

● Is there another way to solve this problem? 

● Can you draw a model of how you solved the problem? 

● Write out how to solve this problem to someone who is away today (or your parents!) 

Children who grasp concepts quickly are given the opportunity to “go deeper” rather than move into the next year group objectives. Challenge can take a number of forms, e.g. giving or writing a clear explanation of a problem or concept; children devising their own related problem; reversing a problem; finding an alternative solution/method or teaching a friend. 

To support children in their learning, we use a wide range of practical equipment which supports children in developing number sense and becoming secure in their methods of calculation.


The equipment that we use: 



Base 10 

Place Value Counters Tens Frame

Cuisenaire Rods 


We place a great deal of emphasis on the use of correct mathematical vocabulary and children are regularly exposed to tasks which allow them to use their vocabulary to clearly explain, reason and justify. At Otterburn we believe that maths is a language and is important to teach children to speak it! Therefore we model and scaffold how answer questions mathematically and ask the children to respond in the same way through structured stem sentences. This begins in Early Years and is built upon in Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. 


At Otterburn  we want every child to develop a real passion for Maths which they can continue to build upon throughout their education. Through the mastery approach we want all of our children to become resilient learners who make connections between concepts, persevere when they at first fail and delight when solutions to problems are found. We want our children to focus not on the answer to a problem but on the method they use to answer it. We want our children to develop a deep understanding of mathematical concepts that are built upon year by year and link maths to other areas of the curriculum and to career opportunities for the future.