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Key Elements (Primary): Visions and Aims

This page has been archived. The content was correct at the time of original publication, but is no longer updated.
Created on 18 November 2009 by ncetm_administrator
Updated on 07 April 2010 by ncetm_administrator

Features of effective practice

A well constructed statement of vision and aims:
  • is based on deep-seated beliefs which will remain constant despite changes in educational organisation
  • includes statements about the place of mathematics in the curriculum, its importance for pupils and a vision for the teaching and learning of mathematics in your school
  • is generated as a result of discussion with colleagues
  • is short and concise
  • uses language that is clear and easily understood
  • articulates the importance of mathematics in a wider context beyond the school and the classroom
  • describes what classroom activity (in terms of teaching and learning) should look like
  • describes outcomes for learners in the school.

Case Study 1: School A – Our Vision and Aims Statement

This is our school’s mathematics vision statement and aims, which are part of our mathematics policy. Crafting these statements together was really important. In particular, it was important to articulate together what we wanted for our children in the aims – e.g. to foster positive attitudes, fascination and excitement of discovery through the teaching and learning of mathematical concepts and to broaden children’s knowledge and understanding of how mathematics is used in the wider world.

Mathematics is a beautiful subject which has its own unique place in the curriculum at School A. It provides pupils with powerful ways to describe, analyse and change the world. Pupils can experience a sense of awe and wonder as they solve a problem for the first time, discover a more elegant solution and make links between different areas of mathematics.

Mathematics is the means of looking at the patterns that make up our world and the intricate and beautiful ways in which they are constructed and realised. The language of mathematics is international. The subject transcends cultural boundaries and its importance is universally recognised. Mathematics helps us to understand and change the world.

Mathematics makes a significant contribution to modern society:

  • the basic skills of mathematics are vital for the life opportunities of our children;
  • mathematics develops the mind and those highly valued cognitive skills.

Pupils at School A study mathematics to become functioning adults who are able to think mathematically enabling them to reason, solve problems and assess risk in a range of contexts.

“Good mathematics teaching is lively, engaging and involves a carefully planned blend of approaches that direct children’s learning….the pitch and pace of the work is sensitive to the rate at which children learn while ensuring expectations are kept high and progress is made by all children”
(The Primary National Strategy)


  • to foster positive attitudes, fascination and excitement of discovery through the teaching and learning of mathematical concepts
  • to develop a ‘can do’ attitude in our children
  • to broaden children’s knowledge and understanding of how mathematics is used in the wider world
  • to enable our pupils to use and understand mathematical language and recognise its importance as a language for communication and thinking
  • to implement the current legal requirements of the Foundation Stage (FS) and the National Curriculum (NC), through the use of the Foundation Stage Curriculum Guidance and the Primary Framework for Mathematics.

Case Study 2: School B – Diary of a Subject Leader Developing a School Vision for Mathematics

Developing a school vision is not so much about writing a vision statement but more the process that you go through which results in the writing of such a statement.

It is a long term job and I have attempted to describe below some of the key things we did to get our vision statement with an indication of timescale throughout the year.

Next steps

  • re-write the school’s Mathematics Policy so that it reflects the vision for the subject
  • School Council will discuss mathematics (at least once per annum) as part of regular ‘curriculum’ item on the agenda
  • parent event / workshop – sharing the school vision, raising the profile of mathematics & strengthening home/school partnership by offering guidance on practical ways parents can support the development of pupils as mathematicians
  • ‘Beyond the classroom’ – working party to explore innovative approaches to provide mathematical experiences / take learning outside the classroom (e.g. strengthening links with local businesses, mathematics in everyday life, links to ECM outcomes)

Case Study 3: School C – Writing a Vision and Aims Statement

I found writing the Vision and Aims statement for mathematics in my school a daunting prospect. I asked some experienced subject leaders at a network meeting for advice and here are a few key principles which I found useful:

Whole School
Your vision for the curriculum area must match in with what the vision is for the whole school. If you have not been part of this whole school review process then it is important to immerse yourself in the whole school vision and have discussions with your Head as to how this can relate to your area. In my school, the focus is on the whole school as a family and the nurturing of the individual (personalised learning) which I used as a starting point for my vision and aims and policies in the teaching of mathematics

As a subject leader you will have a clear idea of how you would like to see mathematics developed at your school but do not be tempted to go and produce your own policy statement. As with any thing these have to be shared and accepted a as staff for it to have any impact. Plan in staff meetings to help you shape what it will be. Invite your Chair of Governors and Mathematics governor to the meeting.

You need a starting point. Take your old policy or search on the internet for existing policies. Do not copy these but there are elements of best practice from other schools which you will be able to adopt. Your data is also a focus point. Looking at your Raise on Line and whole school systems - does that highlight something that really should be a priority for your school in the teaching of mathematics?
Once you have come up with a whole school approach in your staff meeting ensure that you review your policy and vision ant the end of each year.

What does Ofsted say?

(Excerpts from the Ofsted report Mathematics: understanding the score).

This report offers a range of external perspectives, examples of good practice and indications of national trends and standards which can be very helpful to a subject leader.

Here we have included elements which are relevant to this section on vision and aims.

131. ……… In the schools in which staff did not share an effective underpinning philosophy about mathematics, it was frequently the case that the richness or otherwise of pupils’ experience in the subject depended on individual teachers rather than on the school. Sometimes, this unevenness of experience resulted in pupils not receiving their full entitlement to the mathematics curriculum. Schools did not readily recognise that such inequalities meant they were not as inclusive about their provision for mathematics as they generally considered themselves to be.

91. Achievement and standards in ‘using and applying mathematics’ remain lower than in other areas of mathematics. These higher order skills underpin what it means to behave mathematically. It is of serious concern, therefore, that national tests do not require pupils to use and apply mathematics in substantial tasks through which they are able to decide what approaches to adopt, use a range of mathematical techniques in exploring the problem, find solutions, generalise and communicate their reasoning. The importance of these skills is highlighted in the new National Curriculum’s key processes and they underpin the recently published standards for functional mathematics. However, unless external assessments reflect these important processes, they are unlikely to influence a significant shift in teaching and learning mathematics.

Equipping pupils for the future
94. A clear message of this report is that, in most schools, mathematics does not contribute sufficiently to the five outcomes of the Every Child Matters agenda. Too few schools take seriously their duty to teach pupils to use and apply mathematics for themselves, an important skill in promoting their economic well-being and interpreting information to help them be healthy and stay safe. A small number of the schools surveyed illustrated what is possible but ‘using and applying mathematics’ was an area of relative weakness in the majority of schools.

Using and applying mathematics: pupils as mathematicians
131. The best practice had ‘using and applying mathematics’ at the heart of teaching and learning in mathematics: pupils were viewed as budding mathematicians and developing their understanding was of paramount importance. This was reflected in a shared ethos, pervading the teaching, learning and curriculum, and focused on approaches that developed pupils’ understanding and their independence in using and applying mathematics. Such practice was relatively rare, although, in some schools, reflection had led to a deliberate drive towards improving pupils’ understanding of mathematics – an encouraging sign.

Reflection and Next Steps

  • reflect on the features of effective practice and think about what key areas within Vision and Aims you want to develop now
  • look through the case studies and the excerpts from the Ofsted report Mathematics: understanding the score and decide whether there are any tasks or actions you might want to take that are prompted by these
  • use the NCETM Personal Learning Space to record any personal reflections, actions or tasks
  • from policy to practice.

Use this pro-forma to support you in planning your next steps.

Going Further

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21 June 2010 15:05
DerekatMeavy -
Have you thought of posting about this in the Primary Forum (https://www.ncetm.org.uk/community/1210)?
21 June 2010 14:26
Thinking about developing positive attitudes to maths in the children, does anyone have/ know of a good resource to elicit childrens attitudes...like a decent set of open questions to use ina pupil conference?
By DerekatMeavy
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27 April 2010 15:02
Our aims are on our policy and are good with how we will do this.
By kaz9840
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