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How does the maths curriculum connect to the whole curriculum?

Created on 17 May 2010 by ncetm_administrator
Updated on 08 April 2013 by ncetm_administrator


What is the maths Curriculum?

How does the mathematics curriculum connect to the whole curriculum?
Within the curriculum, teachers and schools have the freedom to decide [...] how to arrange learning in the school day – there is no requirement for subjects to be taught discretely.
Page 17,'Excellence and Enjoyment: A strategy for primary schools' (DfES, 2003)

The Executive Summary and Recommendations of the Cambridge Primary Review, stated in Section 11 that:
Making the primary curriculum more manageable without loss of challenge will bring important benefits for children. The key features of the primary curriculum put forward by this review:
  • recognise the continuing importance of subjects and the essential knowledge, skills and understanding they represent.

As indicated in the interim report, the essential knowledge and skills all children should be taught, particularly in the middle and later phases of primary education, can be organised through clearly visible subject disciplines, such as history, geography and physical education. Subjects will be complemented by worthwhile and challenging cross-curricular studies that provide ample opportunities for children to use and apply their subject knowledge and skills to deepen understanding.

Read the Breadth of study section for Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 mathematics in the National Curriculum Programmes of Study. Compare with the Essentials for learning and life. Highlight those parts which help to clarify how mathematics contributes to the whole curriculum.

Reflect on how mathematics contributes to the whole curriculum. Make some notes on how the Essentials for learning and life compare with Breadth of study section for Key Stages 1 & 2 mathematics.

Record your thoughts in your Personal Learning Space.

In the EiML materials Key Elements (Primary): Visions and aims the second bullet point states that a well-constructed statement of vision and aims ‘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’. Does yours?

Check that your school's statement of vision and aims does indeed include the references to mathematics stated in the EiML materials. If it does not, consider how you might develop such a set of statements. Who would it be best to work with?

Record your thoughts in your Personal Learning Space.

This section links with the work on developing a vision statement for maths in What does it mean to lead in my school?

Considering the cross-curricular element

In the CPD guidance for the Primary Project Box, published on behalf of the Curriculum Partnership by the Geographical Association in 2007, five key principles for cross-curricular working were offered:

  1. any subject included in a cross-curricular topic should arise from the topic itself, not be brought in artificially in order to ‘cover’ it.
  2. good cross curricular topics are generally those that are led by just one (or perhaps two) subjects, with cross-curricular activities arising from the central focus.
  3. focus and drive the topic with key questions: they will provide a framework and purpose for the activities.
  4. address the nature and objectives of each subject included in the topic. For example, if there is a science element in the topic, plan to incorporate science concepts, processes, skills and objectives.
  5. language is the main vehicle for learning in all subjects and is a key tool for thinking, therefore literacy should form an intrinsic strand running through all teaching and learning. In turn, the different subjects provide a meaningful context for literacy learning.

There are many opportunities for including mathematics in cross-curricular topics, such as focusing on measuring during a World War II topic. Rations and recipes arise from the topic itself, as does taking measurements for making clothes, and much more.

When considering your school curriculum, are you aware of any cross – curricular activities which include mathematics, or interesting ways of approaching an area of mathematics? How far along the continuum of cross curricular working are you? Is teaching generally based on topics? Do those topics include mathematics?

Choose one of the current topics being taught in a year group other than your own. Consider where mathematics fits into this topic. What activities could be used to make those links?

Discuss your ideas with the colleagues who teach in that year group. You may well find that similar activities are already planned in. Ask if you can observe the children’s responses to the tasks. Do they make the link with mathematics themselves or does it have to be made explicit for them? Alternatively, if your idea is new to the teacher, perhaps you could team teach that lesson.

Think together about what makes a strong cross-curriculum link for maths.

Record your thoughts about cross-curricuum activities in your Personal Learning Space.

You will find more discussion on creativity in mathematics in the paper on the 21st Century Curriculum





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