Abacus curriculum resources
Here, you'll find curriculum advice for all year groups, including matching charts, 'bridging the gap' support and more.
Most of us will have been working with the 2014 national curriculum for some time now. This curriculum is based on the idea that all children need to master age-related skills:
“[All pupils should] become fluent in the fundamentals of mathematics, including through varied and frequent practice with increasingly complex problems over time, so that pupils develop conceptual understanding and the ability to recall and apply knowledge rapidly and accurately […] The expectation is that the majority of pupils will move through the programmes of study at broadly the same pace. However, decisions about when to progress should always be based on the security of pupils’ understanding and their readiness to progress to the next stage.”
- Mathematics programmes of study: key stages 1 and 2 National curriculum in England: September 2013
So how do we know whether children have mastered a skill, and what happens to children who (even with the best intervention possible) are not meeting age-related expectations? The expectation set out in the mathematics programmes of study, is that almost all children are expected to be addressing the same objectives at the same time. The metaphor here is that of a lift rather than an escalator! In the old world of national curriculum levels, every child progressed upwards on different steps of the escalator. With the new curriculum, all children are entering a lift and the expectation is that they will all rise together.
So how does Abacus ensure mastery for all and help you to close the gap?
1. Consistency of models and images
Consistency is key to developing a deep understanding – through both the visual models and images used in the classroom, but also through the vocabulary and language used within lessons. Abacus provides a coherent and developmental approach to the use of models and images, together with an appropriate pedagogical vocabulary which is reinforced through our whole school calculation policy. This consistency develops an understanding which children can fall back on as maths becomes more complex. This means that children in Year 5 and Year 6 are drawing on models and explanations that have been consistently developed throughout the school and with which they are very familiar.
2. Bank of memorised number facts
There is no doubt that memory is a weak-suit in the UK and so we need to train our children’s memories so that they can recall key mathematical facts fluently – this reduces the cognitive load and frees up their minds to deal with more sophisticated problems. With the development of technology, routine memorisation is no longer an important part of daily life in Britain. Memory is like any other faculty – ‘use it or lose it’. In Abacus, we take retention of number facts seriously and ensure that these facts are rehearsed little and often. Quick Maths, Fluency Fitness and Five-Minute filler activities help to keep those all important number facts on the boil!
3. Rehearsing key maths skills through over-learning
The key to mastery (according to Hattie’s explanation of it) is distinct sections of learning which children do not move on from until they have been mastered. In Abacus we keep these units of learning small so that children can grasp them before moving on. Once taught, central concepts, such as place value, and key skills such as partitioning and recognising complements to 1, 10, 100, need to be rehearsed.
Abacus has been built on a robust skills progression so that prior knowledge is constantly built on, reinforced and embedded. So every time you teach Frog subtraction (counting up) you are also rehearsing the key mathematical concepts of place value and number bonds!
4. Practice is key
We know that the amount of mathematical practice that takes place in the classroom needs to be increased to develop mathematical fluency. This involves thinking about different opportunities and contexts for practice – not just involving pen to paper, but involving hands-on problem solving tasks and investigations for children needing to either strengthen or extend their mathematical understanding. We provide extra resources, like Quick Maths, Fluency Fitness and Five-Minute fillers which you can fit around your school day too. We also allow for extra practice outside the context of the maths lesson, often using technology to engage and inspire children at home.
5. Keeping the class together
Having all the children in the same mathematical lift may be an easily constructed metaphor but the reality, as every teacher knows, is somewhat different. In most classes – at least as things stand – we have a group of children who are simply unable to access the core objectives for the lesson as they have not yet acquired crucial prerequisite skills. Abacus solves this by going to the heart of the difficulty.
Abacus gives you prerequisites for every learning objective. This means you can quickly see what children need to have grasped before they move onto a new concept (critical for mastery) and access resources to help assess whether they have grasped the prerequisite skills. The key term here is ‘keep-up not catch-up’. Because Abacus contains 30 teaching weeks, there is time for you to choose when to pause and intervene and when to move on – we provide a bank of unplanned resources to support you.
Abacus has been written for the new primary maths curriculum by an expert author team. The Abacus strands and objectives are based on the new maths programme of study, and outline the knowledge and skills children needed to progress in maths. We’ve created these documents to show you which National Curriculum attainment targets are covered in each Abacus week.
The Abacus strands and objectives have been carefully written by our expert author team, and outline the knowledge and skills children need to progress in maths. We've created these documents to show you how Abacus supports the revised Welsh curriculum:
- 2015 Mathematical Development Area of Learning (incorporating LNF) in Key Stage 1
- 2015 Mathematics Programme of Study (incorporating LNF) in Key Stage 2.