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Walney School

Mathematical thinking

Walney School is committed to raising standards of numeracy and mathematical thinking in all its students, so that they develop the ability to use these skills effectively in all areas of the curriculum, and are prepared with the necessary skills to cope confidently with the demands of further education, employment and adult life.


• To raise the profile of numeracy and mathematical thinking across the curriculum.

• To break down barriers and prejudices students have with regards to learning mathematics.

• To support the transfer of pupils’ knowledge, skills and understanding between subjects.

• To support teachers to feel confident teaching mathematics using methods they are comfortable with.

Our Policy- Mathematical Thinking

All teachers, in all areas of the curriculum will:

1. Open dialogue with students about mathematical thinking and use only positive language.

2. Make it explicit to students that they are using mathematical thinking all the time.

3. Focus on accuracy.

The details

1. Open dialogue with students about mathematical thinking- when completing any mathematical thinking or numeracy related activity, talk to students about the mathematical skills they are using, how they can be applied in your subject and the wider world. Use positive language when discussing mathematical thinking and numeracy- encourage and praise students. Help them to break down any barriers and shift any prejudices they have towards learning and using mathematics.

2. Make it explicit to students that they are using mathematical thinking all the time- many students will not realise they are using mathematical skills in all areas of the curriculum every day. Discuss with students that every time they do any of the activities listed below*, they are using mathematical skills.

3. Focus on accuracy- consistently applying error checking across the curriculum. E.g. Dates in History, learning lines in Drama, punctuation in English…

*These are some of the ways that mathematical thinking may occur naturally across the curriculum:

• Sequencing- using timelines, breaking problems down into smaller parts and systematically working through a solution.

• Answering mathematical questions e.g. How could you sort these…? What would happen if…? Is there a pattern? What do you think comes next? Why? How many ways can you find to…?

For staff, asking these kinds of questions could help prompt students to think about subject content using the tools of mathematics:

  • Specialising – trying special cases, looking at examples
  • Generalising – looking for patterns and relationships Version
  • Conjecturing – predicting relationships and results
  • Convincing – finding and communicating reasons why something is true.
  • Organising and presenting information- Graphs, flow charts, pie charts, timelines, graphic organisers, Venn diagrams, Comparison Alley
  • Looking for relationships- understanding how big something is in relation to something else, using scales, establishing patterns in data and correlation on graphs
  • Focusing on accuracy- consistently applying error checking across the curriculum. E.g. Dates in History, learning lines in Drama, punctuation in English, calculations in Science…


Numeracy is just one component of mathematics. Being numerate is the ability to understand and work with numbers. Being able to work with numbers is an essential life skill but it is not relevant in all areas of the curriculum. However, mathematical thinking encompasses a much broader range of mathematical skills and is relevant in every area of the curriculum. We want to ensure that cross-curricular work in relation to mathematics is fully relevant to the subjects in all areas of the curriculum; that it will benefit the students and enrich their learning in each subject. What we do not want is to force numeracy activities into all areas of the curriculum that will have no relevance or benefit to students in that particular subject. Doing this may also enforce the negative perceptions around mathematics that we are aiming to dispel. We also want to ensure that teachers are teaching mathematical concepts using whichever method they are comfortable using (providing it is accurate) to dispel the misconception that there is a ‘right’ way of doing Maths.

Department of Mathematics

  • Create a positive environment which celebrates numeracy
  • Seek opportunities to use topics and examination questions from other subjects in Mathematics lessons.
  • Be aware of mathematical techniques used in other subjects and provide guidance and training where required so that an accurate, coherent approach is used in all subjects, using teacher’s preferred methods.
  • Provide training to other departments (where required) to ensure that mathematical concepts are taught accurately.
  • Provide information about some common misconceptions and errors which may occur during the teaching of specific topics.
  • Provide guidance to other departments on what numeracy skills students are expected to have acquired by any given stage, so that teachers know whether a skill needs teaching for the first time or reinforcing.

Specific Mathematical links with other Subjects

Some areas of the curriculum have specific numeracy links with mathematics e.g. Science, Geography, DT... In these subjects, Heads of Departments and their subject teams will meet to discuss whether it is appropriate to have consistent approaches to the teaching of specific mathematical concepts and also the timing of when this is taught to different year groups. If appropriate, the order of teaching can be modified in Mathematics or other departments to support the learning of these mathematical concepts. In addition, the Maths department can provide training, where necessary, to ensure that teaching methods of mathematical concepts across the curriculum are accurate.