The changes to the programme of study for maths present a significant increase in the level of challenge. In number, for example, formal written (compact) methods of calculation are now expected by the end of KS2. As the new maths curriculum is cumulative, not everything you need to teach is described in each year group. This means teachers need a thorough understanding of the subject across the whole primary age range and beyond.
Resourcing written calculation is something that needs careful consideration as high-quality provision in this key area can lay the foundations for mathematical success. With this in mind, you may want to look at an extremely well-written KS2 maths programme from Schofield & Sims – Written Calculation.
Two expert authors have penned this programme and it provides a whole heap of simple instruction, worked examples and very structured practice in all the areas children need to master by the end of their primary career. The series is made up of six pupil books, six answer books, a Teacher’s Guide and a Teacher’s Resource Book. It’s a neat and clever package that could provide your class and your school with a programme of structured practice alongside your existing maths lessons.
Each of the pupil books uses 18 carefullystructured steps of learning to guide children towards full mastery of each written method (pupils work through the steps consecutively to ensure they understand key ideas). The questions incorporate a range of objectives from the National Curriculum 2014 and there is a double-page spread devoted to each small step. These have been well conceived and include a detailed description of the method in question, a comprehensive example, and questions for the children to answer – finishing with a problem-solving activity. This is a good, solid structure; it works well for teaching the methods and getting children to practise, and you can easily provide more examples of your own if needed.
Children get a simple tick-box selfassessment at the end of each step so they can let you know whether they found things easy, OK or difficult. There are three check-up tests and a final test included as well so you can assess and monitor progress – or lack thereof.
The Teacher’s Guide is what you would expect from a long-established, trusted and reliable publisher because it contains everything you need to make Written Calculation work as part of a whole-school approach. It is clear, concise and a very useful reference for getting the best out of the activities. There are planning sections for each of the six books and these include learning objectives, a summary of the steps, the prerequisites and the all-important teaching notes. There is also a very useful set of photocopiable assessment resources. A separate Teacher’s Resource Book provides more photocopiables to supplement the materials in each book. Why this is separate to the Teacher’s Guide is a mystery – in my view they operate together and would be better as one resource. You can also find more resources as free downloads on the Schofield & Sims website and these are regularly updated.
Using this effective programme provides carefully graded practice in addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, and I can see it being well used because it provides a very clear structure with plenty of examples and questions.
The main message with Written Calculation is practice, practice, practice. Following each step will undoubtedly help children develop their learning and conceptual understanding by embedding place value, number facts and problem solving skills. However creative you are with the curriculum, there’s no getting away from the fact that practice is key, and so this programme serves us well.
The style of the programme might not suit everyone – Schofield & Sims is known for its no-frills presentation, so some of your children might find the books a bit dry and uninspiring. But remember, these resources are intended to add to what you already do and will provide invaluable practice without the distractions of cartoon characters and speaking dinosaurs.
I like the series. It’s a no nonsense, ‘let’s get on with it’ resource that means business and will help children learn the importance of mastering one step before they go on to another. I think the most logical way of using the resources is to do so systematically: stick with the programme and watch children’s confidence grow. This series is a very affordable choice and would be money well spent.