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All children require mathematical understanding to access as full a life as possible. Mathematical development depends on becoming confident and competent in learning and using key skills.  


At Millstead we understand how children’s mathematical thinking first develops and how it can be nurtured to ensure real understanding and support essential life skills. Mathematics includes counting, sorting, matching, seeking patterns, making connections, recognising relationships and working with numbers, shapes, space and measures. The teaching of maths always starts from a practical basis and when the pupils are ready, taking their learning to a pictorial level and then abstract level. When teaching new concepts, pupils will return to a practical approach in order to establish the new concept. 


It is vital that the language associated with maths and numeracy is taught alongside new concepts and skills. 


Maths and numeracy form an integral part of our everyday curriculum at Millstead We endeavour to provide opportunities that allow the learners to practice and embed their skills and knowledge in a variety of practical and functional context and situations. Such an approach enables the children to apply their skills and knowledge in a relevant and purposeful manner, appropriate to their model of learning. For most of the children at Millstead, mathematical understanding will be developed through stories, songs, games, sensory and imaginative play so that they enjoy using and experimenting with numbers and other mathematical concepts.  


Pupils at Millstead have identified language and auditory processing deficits that has an impact on their ability to learn language and math concepts in order to solve problems. Pupils need support to understand receptive and expressive communication which can impact their ability express what they don’t understand or show how they solved problems. Pupils often struggle when learning language aspects of math which can cause confusion about terminology and following verbal explanations.  As a school, we use a universal approach through visual supports and using simple language when asking questions, giving directions, presenting concepts, and offering explanations.  


Pupils with severe learning difficulties will have difficulty generalising skills to new contexts. Pupils require repeated opportunities to consolidate a new skill in one “experience” and then transfer this skill across a range of different “experiences”.  


Teachers plan and deliver learning activities to ensure that the processes of learning progress from sensory beginnings, moving towards counting, symbolic representation, abstract thinking and beginning the processes of addition and subtraction and calculations. We believe that children’s mathematical development arises out of daily experiences in a rich and interesting environment. 


Mathematics can be taught more practically, more contextually, more concretely, and with much more motivation if it is taught as part of the process of art, playing games, cooking or any part of life being lived.   

MATHEMATICS for Pre-Formal Learners 


Pupils in the PMLD and SCERTS cohort experience are introduced to mathematical concepts associated with Early Learning Goals. Pupils experience Mathematics through a multi-sensory approach. Learning opportunities are embedded across the school day in different ways and in different locations in school and beyond. 


This is facilitated through the use of: - 

  • songs 

  • action rhymes 

  • games- providing opportunities to talk about maths and reinforce learning in a fun way; this can also provide opportunities to develop problem solving skills 

  • practical everyday situations -such as knowing where to put their coat and understanding positional language eg put the toys in the box when tidying up 

  • independent exploration of resources linked to numeracy and maths – developing a questioning approach towards a situation and developing problem solving skills 

  • noticing changes and exploring cause and effect activities and toys – leading to anticipation and prediction skills 

  • developing an understanding of routines and the passage of time through the use of timetables 

  • organising and categorising objects – providing opportunities to sort and recognise similarities and differences 

  • creating patterns with a range of materials / equipment 

  • musical games and songs 


  • Intensive interaction 

  • Multi-sensory stories / activities. 


MATHEMATICS for Semi-Formal Learners 


The semi - formal curriculum at Millstead School continues to emphasise communication, choice making, problem solving and life skills and build upon the foundations of learning on which the pre-formal curriculum pathways are based. Learners may have strength or abilities in certain curriculum areas – such as number, and where appropriate such strength may be taught formally in order to ensure linear progress. 

Mathematics is planned for as part of child-led play activities within the continuous provision. Alongside this, adult-led sessions are delivered through a variety of whole class, small group activities and 1:1 sessions.  

Multi-sensory learning, play and real objects, as well as songs and stories, provide the children with opportunities to develop early thinking and cognition skills, play skills as well as early number and shape space and measure concepts.  

The Early Years Framework and NC maths curriculum is available to support progression of skills, concepts and knowledge.

The school calculation protocol gives support re the development and approach to teaching calculation skills. 


MATHEMATICS for Formal Learners 


Pupils who are working at or beyond the expected level of attainment for Year 2 have discrete maths lessons based on the National Curriculum and are introduced to a greater range of manipulatives, for example, Numicon or Dienes.  

Teachers plan opportunities to apply skills in practical and age-appropriate ways.  

New concepts and vocabulary are introduced in an ordered and sequential way. 

The length of time spent on each concept or skill, will be highlighted within the teachers’ medium-term plans.