Writing a new Scheme of Work – Part 2: Philosophy

You can view all the posts in the epic “Writing a Maths Scheme of Work” series on this page. It’s kind of like Game of Thrones, only with slightly less nudity and dragons.

In this post we look at the Philosophy behind our new Scheme of Learning. The national curriculum for mathematics aims to ensure that all pupils:

1)  become fluent in the fundamentals of mathematics, including through varied and frequent practice with increasingly complex problems over time, so that pupils develop conceptual understanding and the ability to recall and apply knowledge rapidly and accurately.

2) reason mathematically by following a line of enquiry, conjecturing relationships and generalisations, and developing an argument, justification or proof using mathematical language

3) can solve problems by applying their mathematics to a variety of routine and non-routine problems with increasing sophistication, including breaking down problems into a series of simpler steps and persevering in seeking solutions.

When thinking about what we wanted to achieve out of our new Year 9 to 11 Schemes of Learning, those aims seemed like a good place to start.

For me, this is what those key elements actually mean:

Fluent in the Fundamentals - repeated practise of key skills is absolutely crucial for students’ success, confidence and progress. Maths cannot always be about discovery and investigation. Certain aspects of mathematics need to become automatic to students, especially the basic number work upon which so much of mathematics is built.

Problem Solving - this is a term that is banded around so much, along with “independent learners”. They are seen as the holy grail in terms of what we want our students to become, but it is very hard to pin down what they actually mean, and moreover how to achieve them. What does being a problem solver actually mean? Well, for me it is giving students unfamiliar scenarios, and them not being afraid by them, and being prepared to draw upon different areas of mathematics in order to try and crack them. This is easier said than done.

Inquiring Minds - for me, this is the most exciting one. For students to become successful enquirers, they need to enjoy mathematics, be intrigued by it, want to delve deeper into it, to go further than they have been asked to.  The need to become all the things that the wonderful Andrew Blair talked about when I interviewed him.

And so, our job is pretty simple. We will aim to write a new three year scheme of work that is differentiated, strikes the right balance between practise and discovery, consolidation and new material, independent and directed study, all the time keeping the students engaged, offering support and challenge where needed, and getting our maths department to buy into it.

I don’t know why people find a Scheme of Work so hard to write… :-/