About cookies

The NCETM site uses cookies. Read more about our privacy policy

Please agree to accept our cookies. If you continue to use the site, we'll assume you're happy to accept them.


Personal Learning Login

Sign Up | Forgotten password?
Register with the NCETM

National Curriculum - Selecting suitable learning activities : Key Stage 1 : Mathematics-specific Pedagogy

Key Stage
Key Stage

Next Question

Enter the Self-evaluation Tools
Self-evaluation Tools
Currently viewing
Key Stage 1
National Curriculum - Selecting suitable learning activities
Question 1 of 14

1. 1. How confident are you that you can select activities for children that will promote your learning aims and, over time, give them opportunities to:

a. a. work independently as individuals or collaboratively with others?


Children in Key Stage 1 benefit from working in different groups: independently as individuals, collaboratively with a partner or in a small group on different occasions. Which of these you choose will depend on the activity and what you want to achieve. Over time, children need opportunities to work in all three ways.

Group membership may need to change from time to time so that children experience working with different people. Sometimes groups will be of the same level of attainment, sometimes of mixed levels of attainment. Friends usually work together well. On occasions, you may decide to form single-sex groups.

For some discussions, either you or the group may want to assign roles to particular members: for example, leading the discussion, taking notes, drawing diagrams, leading the presentation, and so on. Children who are quick to suggest ideas may need to be asked to manage the discussion in order to let others contribute.

Having an extension activity ready to give to any group that reaches a conclusion quickly allows other groups time to fine-tune their thinking.

What this looks like in the classroom

Collaborative work is successful if teachers value and promote mathematical thinking and recognise the different ways of being mathematical. For example, by praising children for questioning and explaining as much as praising them for using a particular procedure. This will help children to feel confident and more likely to contribute to the group they are working in.

During group work teachers will move around the groups, questioning, challenging, supporting and assessing. They will raise the status of children who are less confident within the group. They can do this by encouraging them to participate in the work of the group and praising their contributions. Group work also provides teachers with more time for some direct teaching, especially if children are working in groups based on similar prior attainment. During one lesson, the teacher could work with a group of lower-attaining children for maybe ten minutes, helping them to develop a method that the majority of the class can already use successfully. The other groups work independently during this time. The next lesson the teacher could focus on a different group of children. Over the course of a few lessons all children will have benefitted from extra teacher input.

Small group work is useful for:

  • working on more complex problems
  • activities based on playing games
  • engaging more children in active discussion
  • developing children’s collaboration skills
  • observing and assessing groups of children.

Paired work is useful for:

  • children working together to develop conceptual understanding
  • solving less complex problems
  • activities based on playing games
  • enabling one child to be taught by another
  • giving children more speaking time
  • building up children’s confidence

Individual work is useful for:

  • consolidating and practising a newly acquired skill
  • allowing children to work through questions or a problem at their own pace
  • generating a greater range of responses if all children are working on the same open task.

Related information and resources from other sites

Add to your NCETM favourites
Remove from your NCETM favourites
Add a note on this item
Recommend to a friend
Comment on this item
Send to printer
Request a reminder of this item
Cancel a reminder of this item