Maths Guidance

B1a. Maths Criteria System

Assertive Mentoring is making a real difference to our children. They absolutely love the Maths!

A. Metcalfe: Spotland Primary, Rochdale

AIM: To ensure consistent recording, reporting and tracking of pupil progress in maths across the whole school.

The maths assessment criteria are taken straight from the Programme of Study (PoS) for the National Curriculum. Each year group has its own assessment criteria sheet taken from the relevant PoS.

There are 30 criteria in all for each year group from Y2 to Y6 and 20 criteria for the Foundation Stage.

The (Stage 4 criteria (B1:5) corresponds to the maths PoS for year 4, Stage 5 to Y5 etc.

Each Stage is broken down into 4 sub stages (similar to old sub levels): Emerging; Developing; Securing and Next Stage Ready (or Mastering/Greater Depth).

It provides a ‘one sheet to view’ overview of a child’s performance across all areas.

This one sheet allows for an assessment to be made across the PoS every half term so that pupil progress is visual, targets are obvious and teaching and support are fully informed.

The expectation is that the vast majority of pupils become ‘Secure’ against their age-related criteria by the end of each school year. To do that, they will need to achieve around 70% of the assessment criteria over each year (or about 21 criteria).

What makes our approach unique is that ALL criteria are assessed EVERY half term, whether or not they have been taught. This may seem counter intuitive, time consuming for teachers and even stressful for the children. The opposite is true in practice.

Our results are so much better than ever before. HMI are impressed with the impact of Assertive Mentoring and the kids absolutely love it!

West Melton Junior: Rotherham

With an assertive mentoring approach the children actually look forward to the next assessment. That is, these are not tests, as such, they are assessments. They are to identify strengths, show progress, and inform teaching and support in order to ensure success.

B1b. Maths Half-Term Assessments

AM has had a massive impact on our standards. Teachers find the assessments manageable and use the results to inform future planning, target teaching and fill gaps through interventions.

M. Majevadia: Anderton Park School, Birmingham

Aim: To ensure that ALL criteria from ALL stages are regularly, consistently, accurately and efficiently assessed.

Every year group/maths stage has 6 assessments (B1:6) (one for each half term throughout the year).

There are 30 questions per assessment (Y2 – Y6). Each question tests a specific criteria i.e. Q1 tests criteria 1 at that Stage; Q2 tests criteria 2 etc. Children should be given 1 hour to answer as many questions as possible in test conditions.

If a pupil gets the question completely right, put a cross (X) in the corresponding cell on the Criteria Tracking Sheet (B1:5). If a pupil gets the question partially right, put a diagonal line (/) in the corresponding cell and a dot if wrong.

Count the number of crosses (and only crosses) awarded on the test. Then put that number in the column at the bottom of the tracking sheet and that shows where they are within the stage: i.e. Emerging, Developing, Securing, or Mastering/Ready for next Stage.

The teacher AND pupil can now SEE what progress has been made since the last assessment and how many more ‘crosses’ are needed on the next half termly test (in approx. 6 weeks time) to stay on trajectory to meet the end of year target.

The teacher discusses the diagonal lines (/) on the tracking sheet to identify 3 - 5 targets that the pupil can work on over the next half term, knowing that if these can be converted into crosses by the time of the next half term assessment, the pupil will be on trajectory to achieve the year-end target. Some targets make take longer than 6 weeks to achieve and may be carried forward for another half term if required. Targets are explained and demonstrated using the appropriate Pupil Prompts (B2:3), which the child uses as an aide memoir.

The pupil’s targets can also be cut and pasted onto the Pupil Target Sheet. They become their maths targets for that half term. Pupils take out their Pupil Prompt or Target Sheet every time they do maths so that neither the teacher nor child have to commit individual targets to memory.

The teacher and/or Teaching Assistant refers to the targets whenever possible and appropriate during teaching, support and marking.

Completing the Criteria Class Record (B1:4) allows the teacher to maintain an overview of class performance, to help identify gaps in T&L, which in turn informs planning. They also give an indication of ability groups to inform class organisation and differentiation and show the children requiring intervention and extension work. We teach the pupils not the scheme!

There is also an Excel IT Tracker (B1) available which can make the tracking, recording and reporting of pupil progress a paperless exercise.


The impact the weekly maths checks has had on our pupil’s progress is outstanding!

S. Clark, DHT: Monks Abbey Primary, Lincs

B2a. Weekly Basic Skills

Aim: To ensure good pupil progress against their relevant age-related PoS every half term.

These provide regular coverage of the essential skills needed to ensure good pupil progress in maths across the whole school. Pupils take the Weekly Basic Skills Check (B2:2) once a week using a positive ‘beat your own score’ approach. It takes approximately 30 minutes. Pupils are allowed to use their Pupil Prompts (B2:3) in order to encourage independent learning and the teacher/TA can assist those who need it and remind others of their target questions.

There are 25 questions on a single sheet of A4 which cover the vast majority of the key skills for the relevant stage. Every question is cross referenced to both our Maths Criteria (B1:5) and the Half Term Assessments (B1:6). The weekly repetition ensures that basic skills are internalized rather than forgotten over time. Children can track their own scores and progress on their Weekly Record Sheet (B2:5) and SEE the progress they are making which is highly motivational.

For one session per week, the teacher goes through that week’s Skills Check and tries to address common misconceptions. Better to cover well a small number of criteria per week than try to cover too many. This is the strength of regular repetition, allowing concepts to be revisited when necessary.

An Excel Workbook allows you to record your classes’ weekly Maths Weekly Skills scores and automatically colour codes them using the Assertive Mentoring traffic light highlighting system. This provides a strong visual record to inform teaching and demonstrate pupil progress over time.

AM has really helped us to identify gaps in children's learning and address them more efficiently. The Weekly Skills Checks also really help as the repetition of basic skills each week means children quickly gain confidence and speed.

J. Hyslop, DH: Davenham Primary, Cheshire

B2b. Number Bonds and Times Tables System

We can confidently say that our pupils are better at fluency in maths, more confident in their ability and have greater ownership of their learning.

C Athersmith, DH: St Columba’s School, Cumbria

A comprehensive and motivational approach to the systematic acquisition of Number Bonds across the Foundation Stage and Times Tables from Y2 onwards, including graded weekly activities (B2:6); motivational sticker cards; all recording formats; all related homework (B2:7) and more.

As with the Weekly Basic Skills, the systems use repetition, reward and a ‘beat your own score’ approach to ensure bonds and tables are cemented. It also comes with an excel workbook to generate an unlimited number of tables tests.

It is expected that learning times tables takes up very little classroom time as they are not ‘taught’ as such but practiced and memorized. To encourage the children to do this, we have a highly motivational reward system. Pupils have their own Tables Record Card. Stickers are awarded when the children learn the tables in each list. They receive a ‘bronze award’ for if they can recite the tables in order without hesitation or error; silver if they can answer a tables problem in any order and gold when they can answer any associated divisions fact.

Children will be very keen to be tested in order to gain their stickers. A good idea is to assess the children most likely to know them and appoint them as ‘Tables Testers’ for the class. They cannot award the stickers but can recommend they are assessed further by the teacher or TA!

AM has had a massive impact on the maths and all teachers and children enjoy the key skills. AM has definitely focussed us on the areas of need and subsequent teaching.

J. McGill: Jericho Primary, Cumbria


Peter Boddy

Phone number
07810 125 494

Eamonn Farrar

Phone number
07951 391 388

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