Our children are regularly asked the question, ‘How do you know?

We aim for our children to be confident and independent mathematicians that are willing to tackle any challenge, to be resilient learners that are determined to succeed. Collaborative work is encouraged with opportunities to discuss, explain and justify their workings.   

We want our children to not just know how to do maths but to have a sound knowledge of the understanding behind it.  They are given deeper learning opportunities both in maths and across the curriculum, where they can reason and problem solve, developing a deep mathematical understanding and enabling them to make connections between topics and concepts.  Children’s learning builds on something that has already been mastered, giving them the confidence and independence to achieve and move forward.


In Early Years, developing a strong grounding in number is essential so that all children develop the necessary building blocks to excel mathematically. Children should be able to count confidently, develop a deep understanding of the numbers to 10, the relationships between them and the patterns within those numbers.

By providing frequent and varied opportunities to build and apply this understanding – such as using manipulatives, including small pebbles and tens frames for organising counting – children will develop a secure base of knowledge and vocabulary from which mastery of mathematics is built. In addition, we offer rich opportunities for children to develop their spatial reasoning skills across all areas of mathematics including shape, space and measures. It is important that children develop positive attitudes and interests in mathematics, look for patterns and relationships, spot connections, ‘have a go’, talk to adults and peers about what they notice and not be afraid to make mistakes. 

Little Big Maths is a systematic and empathetic approach to supporting children in becoming numerate. It is a programme used in Early Years that develops early maths skills preparing children for the transition into Year 1 where they will embark upon their Big Maths journey. 

Big Maths is a numeracy programme that was introduced at St John’s in September 2011. It has had a huge impact, helping our children to become even more numerate and exceed in their mathematical achievement.  Big Maths provides children with a fun and lively experience as they learn with jingles, songs, games and the famous Big Maths characters.

Children work through steps known as ‘Progress Drives’ where they follow a natural sequence of progression e.g. to know double 60 they need to first know double 6.  Each step is always very small, but essential.  This helps to boost confidence as all children can see that the next step along the progress drive is always easy and achievable avoiding cognitive overload.  These Progress Drives allow for continuity and consistency across the whole school as all teachers are using the same steps of progression.

The lessons involve lots of repetition, revisiting and reinforcement to ensure solid knowledge of the basic maths skills, constantly nudging children up the Progress Drives and committing their learning to the long-term memory. A range of resources and manipulatives are used to aide the children’s learning following the concrete, pictorial and abstract journey.

We welcome visitors from schools far and wide to look at Big Maths in action and in the past this has included many Walsall schools, as well as schools from Kent, Wales, Cornwall and even China! As a result of this success we are officially a partner school with Andrell Education. Ben Harding, the author of Big Maths, has frequently visited St John’s to enable us to keep moving Big Maths forward.

Big Maths Characters

Many of the It’s Nothing New concepts are introduced and taught using fun and interactive characters.  This has proved to be a very powerful tool as the characters and the mathematical language that is associated with them is used consistently through the school and constantly referred to by both children and staff.  Each character helps children to learn and remember key principles that can be applied across a range of topics and difficulty.

Daily Maths Lesson

Each daily maths lesson begins with a CLIC session:

Counting: Children learn to count forwards and backwards (progressing from whole numbers to ten through to counting in decimals and fractions, prime and square numbers) and to ‘count on’ from any number. Children’s counting will be linked to real life units such as counting in measurements or temperatures, assisting in the mastery of these topics.

How do you know that 35 is the next number?’

Learn Its: Recalling and repeating basic number facts including all four operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) and looking at related facts.  Essential for the fluency of number.

‘How do you know that 3 x 70 = 210?’

It’s Nothing New: Children apply what they have learned to acquire new skills in a simple manner.  E.g. if they know 4 + 3 = 7, then ‘it’s nothing new’ to learn that 4p + 3p = 7p.  This offers further opportunity for the children to reason and problem solve, applying previous knowledge learned.

‘How do you know that ½ m + ¼ m = 75cm?’

Calculation: Children use and apply facts and knowledge from CLIC to all four operation calculation methods (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) given a range of questions involving reasoning and problem solving.

‘Complete 3?5 + 2?6 = ?0?  How do you know?’

Wider Maths: Children explore geometry, measures, statistics and fractions in a range of ways, often with practical experiences and resources to offer real life context and help embed their learning.

‘In a regular shape the number of sides = number of angles = number of lines of symmetry. True or false? How do you know?’

Problem Solving/Reasoning Opportunities: Children are given a range of problem solving questions as whole class discussions, group and independent work.  They are encouraged to share their methods and justify their answers.  Children are explicitly taught problem solving strategies, including use of Numberless problems and scaffolded problem solving planning sheets.

Big Maths Assessment

As well as tracking children’s knowledge and understanding using their position on the Progress Drives, once a week the children sit three quick and easy Big Maths tests.  These are used as assessment tools that allow teachers to see exactly what the children know and what they don’t know.  They also provide children with a fun and motivational way to track their own progress and set their own targets for maths.  Children’s fluency improves by repeating and revisiting, thus embedding their learning into their long term memory. Both tests begin with fun, catchy jingles that enthuse and engage the children.

The CLIC test: The CLIC test is a set of 10 questions involving number.   E.g. The four operations, doubling/halving, multiplying by 10/100, using decimals. 

The SAFE challenge: This test is a set of 10 questions related to Shape, Amounts, Fractions and Exploring data.  E.g. Identifying shapes and nets, calculating perimeter and area, reading scales and converting measures, finding fractions of shape and number, relating fractions to percentage and interpreting graphs.

Each child works on a CLIC and SAFE test of a level appropriate to them; when they have achieved full marks more than once, and at the teacher’s discretion, the child will move onto the next level test.

The Big Maths Beat That test (BMBT): The BMBT test is based on the children’s weekly Learn Its.  It is a timed test where the children are constantly challenged to increase their own score (literally…”Beat That!”, where ‘that’ is their best ever score).

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Children are fluent in mathematics and can apply this knowledge to solve increasingly complex problems.  Children have the ability to reason independently, justifying their answers using mathematical language.  We aim for our children to leave St John’s with a positive attitude towards mathematics, with a desire to be challenged and with the knowledge and confidence to succeed.

Giving Maths a Purpose

At St Johns we are passionate to equip our children for the next stages of their education.  We ensure the children have the necessary mathematical skills and understanding to cope with the demands of the wider world, as such we make explicit links between every day maths and real life.  We truly believe mathematics is essential to every day life, critical to science, technology and engineering and a necessity for most forms of employment.  Our high quality maths education provides aspirational foundations for our children to understand the world, have an appreciation of the beauty and power of mathematics.

Our Year 6 Enterprise Project

To develop financial literacy, Year 6 children are set a challenge to ‘Make a fiver flourish’ giving purpose to their learning and an opportunity to apply their mathematical knowledge and understanding.

Watch the video starring and filmed by Year 6

We have seen some wonderful entrepreneurs in the last few years.  Have a look at our promotional video and some pictures of the stalls we have had on offer…

Number Day

Number Day 2023 

Exploring number through many different ways is embedded in our maths curriculum but we love to look for further opportunities to become excited by number. 

For this year’s number day, we had all sorts of activities happening across school including games, puzzles, quizzes and number hunts – we even got number into Forest School and P.E.  As always, our older children were passionate about helping younger learners, playing games and reading number stories with them. 

The children developed their love and mastery of number whilst also raising almost £200 for the NSPCC.