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Calculation Guidance for primary schools

Created on 07 October 2015 by ncetm_administrator
Updated on 22 October 2015 by ncetm_administrator

To help teachers and schools develop their own calculation policies, or to complement existing policies, and help to shape how pupils are taught and learn calculation methods, the NCETM, working in conjunction with the Maths Hubs programme, has produced a Calculation Guidance document, based on experiences and feedback from schools and teachers participating in the first year of the England-China project.

The document, which can be downloaded and/or printed from this page, is divided into 15 sections, each dealing with an aspect of calculation considered a priority in helping pupils develop efficient and accurate methods of completing calculations.

The areas covered are:

  • Develop children’s fluency with basic number facts
  • Develop children’s fluency in mental calculation
  • Develop children’s fluency in the use of written methods
  • Develop children’s understanding of the = symbol
  • Teach inequality alongside teaching equality
  • Don’t count, calculate
  • Look for pattern and make connections
  • Use intelligent practice
  • Use empty box problems
  • Expose mathematical structure and work systematically
  • Move between the concrete and the abstract
  • Contextualise the mathematics
  • Use questioning to develop mathematical
  • Expect children to use correct mathematical terminology and speak in full sentences
  • Identify difficult points

Click on the image above to download/save/print the guidance.



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26 April 2018 08:45
We haven't posted a video with the materials - are you referrring to the link posted by markoliverjersey below? YOu may be interested in the videos in our Mastery section - see https://www.ncetm.org.uk/mastery
25 April 2018 17:18
I am just stumbled across this - I can't see a video - is it still available? I would be very interested to watch it. Many thanks
By razzle
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10 September 2016 15:44

This is a great video - I agree somethimes there is the tendency to move from concrete to pictorial to abstract too quickly and developing conceptual understanding and developing flexibility in the way children use numbers is important.

I really think this video helps children see how they can use something they know to work out other numbers.

Brilliant - definitely something I will share with staff and children.
01 November 2015 16:58
My only comment on the Calculation Guidance is that while I found it really helpful, I believe that moving children too quickly from Pictoral Methods to Abstract Methods is that children then do not embed their understanding, e.g. year 2 pupils might be able to add 2-digit numbers formally quickly but soon become unstuck when the sum crosses the tens boundary. The biggest problem I see is that children then think that using pictures is somehow not maths. They then make simple mistakes in 'test papers' that could be avoided if they used more, pictures (be it bar-model or arrays or other informal or formal method). They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I include a link to an early explain everything video I used for teaching Y6 pupils how to divide. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFUw8nvdi_U
13 October 2015 11:56
Super resource - thank you. We have started to use the bar model in our school to help children visualise and represent problems.
By wallace305
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13 October 2015 11:07
Useful resource - thank you.
11 October 2015 21:13
I am not a primary school teacher, indeed not a classsroonm teacher at all, but I though this was wonderful, so I am delighted that real tachers think so too.
By jimsimons
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10 October 2015 11:23
As a Leader of Maths for a school that goes from FS to year 9 I think this is such a key resource - thank you! Any chance of having this kind of information for KS3 and KS4? I think it's absolutely brilliant and helps clarify what is meant by mastery for those teachers who are not familiar with it!
By missvaghela
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09 October 2015 12:05
Another great resources from the NCETM- thank you!!
By nicolawarner
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09 October 2015 10:44
Thank you for this wonderful article. I am going to download it and add it to the progression maps you have also provided.
By tutorwho
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08 October 2015 23:58
Brilliant examples of the iconic or pictorial images and models that can be used to bridge that gap between concrete and abstract. This will help me reinforce the importance of this stage to staff and give them some clear guidance on the models and relevance of the models they could use.
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