The environment for mathematics

As an education adviser specialising in Maths I have the privilege and luxury of visiting a range of schools both within Essex and other local authorities. I’m often asked to review the mathematics provision and one frequent point I find myself raising is the quality of the mathematics learning environment.

We frequently have heard the question, ‘Does your school shout we love reading?‘ however, the same should be asked for maths as it can be the poor relation.

I’m not advocating heavily decorated classrooms as there is much research evidence out there that too much visual stimuli can interfere with memory and the ability to focus for many pupils. I believe quality rather than quantity is key.

So, here are some questions for you to reflect on your own setting…

    • Are the aims of the national curriculum; fluency, reasoning and problem solving evident within your classrooms?
    • If you walk from your Reception class to Year 6 can you see a clear progression of learning?
    • If you have working walls, are they working? Are children using them?
    • Is there evidence of mathematical variation?
    • Is maths being celebrated?
    • Do pupils have access to manipulatives; Dienes, Numicon, Cuisenaire?
    • Does the environment demonstrate how you are contextualising the learning and making links to real life?

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