How to Develop Mathematical Fluency at KS2

Fluency can be tricky to define, but broadly speaking it refers to a pupil's ability to know and recall mathematical facts efficiently, and to perform mathematical activities accurately and quickly. In its truest sense, fluency is much more than just knowing facts. It’s the ability to flexibly choose the most appropriate method for the task at hand, understand and explain these methods and, ultimately, quickly arrive at the correct answer.

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The increased mathematical fluency in pupils with a range of abilities makes it a very effective intervention

Year 6 & Key Stage 2 Phase Leader, Northumberland
How to Develop Mathematical Fluency at KS2

How to Develop Mathematical Fluency at KS2

Fluency can be tricky to define, but broadly speaking it refers to a pupil's ability to know and recall mathematical facts efficiently, and to perform mathematical activities accurately and quickly. In its truest sense, fluency is much more than just knowing facts. It’s the ability to flexibly choose the most appropriate method for the task at hand, understand and explain these methods and, ultimately, quickly arrive at the correct answer.

The increased mathematical fluency in pupils with a range of abilities makes it a very effective intervention

Year 6 & Key Stage 2 Phase Leader, Northumberland

Four techniques to develop mathematical fluency at KS2

1.Allow time for regular practice

Drill and memorisation is a great way to reinforce this and creating a set time during the maths lessons or school day for this can be really effective. If you feel it’s getting repetitive for your pupils, you could explore more game-like, fun activities. These are a great way to keep pupils engaged and motivated. For example, try creating your own songs or actions to add to your times tables or number bonds chants.

As well as through the 1-to-1 lessons, schools signed up to our programme also get access to additional opportunities for fun fluency practice across Years 1-6 through the resources in the Third Space Maths Hub. Our most popular resources include ‘Fluent in Five’ (quick-fire daily arithmetic problems to build number fluency in 5-minutes a day) and all the fun games and activities in our Ultimate Times Tables Resource Packs

How to Develop Mathematical Fluency at KS2
How to Develop Mathematical Fluency at KS2

1.Allow time for regular practice

Drill and memorisation is a great way to reinforce this and creating a set time during the maths lessons or school day for this can be really effective. If you feel it’s getting repetitive for your pupils, you could explore more game-like, fun activities. These are a great way to keep pupils engaged and motivated. For example, try creating your own songs or actions to add to your times tables or number bonds chants.

As well as through the 1-to-1 lessons, schools signed up to our programme also get access to additional opportunities for fun fluency practice across Years 1-6 through the resources in the Third Space Maths Hub. Our most popular resources include ‘Fluent in Five’ (quick-fire daily arithmetic problems to build number fluency in 5-minutes a day) and all the fun games and activities in our Ultimate Times Tables Resource Packs

2. Don't neglect conceptual understanding

Practice in isolation is not enough. A focus on conceptual understanding is vital to ensure pupils have understood the underlying maths behind a problem and aren’t just reciting learnt number facts. Keep an eye out for pupils who are struggling during your regular practice sessions and ensure they have the chance to address any gaps or misconceptions.

Because they choose which specific pupils they’d like to receive the weekly 1-to-1 lessons, our intervention programmes allow schools to easily provide more targeted support for these pupils without having to take the focus away from regular practice for the rest of their class.

How to Develop Mathematical Fluency at KS2
How to Develop Mathematical Fluency at KS2

2. Don't neglect conceptual understanding

Practice in isolation is not enough. A focus on conceptual understanding is vital to ensure pupils have understood the underlying maths behind a problem and aren’t just reciting learnt number facts. Keep an eye out for pupils who are struggling during your regular practice sessions and ensure they have the chance to address any gaps or misconceptions.

Because they choose which specific pupils they’d like to receive the weekly 1-to-1 lessons, our intervention programmes allow schools to easily provide more targeted support for these pupils without having to take the focus away from regular practice for the rest of their class.

3. Practise in varied contexts

Pupils who may have shown a level of fluency in a particular concept can still find it difficult to use those skills in different types of questions. For example, a pupil may be comfortable with times tables facts, but then struggle to apply these when calculating the area of a shape.

Where possible, try to include opportunities for pupils to use and reinforce a range of skills across the maths curriculum and make it clear to pupils when they are using skills that they have already learnt.  Exposing your pupils to this kind of variety across the term and year helps them develop true mathematical fluency.

Because pupils have the same tutor for each of their 1-to-1 lessons, the tutor is able to review which topics a pupil has previously learnt but is struggling to apply to new contexts. They’re then able to use this information to personalise each lesson to allow opportunities to apply skills to different contexts.

How to Develop Mathematical Fluency at KS2
How to Develop Mathematical Fluency at KS2

3. Practise in varied contexts

Pupils who may have shown a level of fluency in a particular concept can still find it difficult to use those skills in different types of questions. For example, a pupil may be comfortable with times tables facts, but then struggle to apply these when calculating the area of a shape.

Where possible, try to include opportunities for pupils to use and reinforce a range of skills across the maths curriculum and make it clear to pupils when they are using skills that they have already learnt.  Exposing your pupils to this kind of variety across the term and year helps them develop true mathematical fluency.

Because pupils have the same tutor for each of their 1-to-1 lessons, the tutor is able to review which topics a pupil has previously learnt but is struggling to apply to new contexts. They’re then able to use this information to personalise each lesson to allow opportunities to apply skills to different contexts.

4. Observe and assess

Accuracy is a key element of fluency in maths so it’s important that teachers are using assessment during lessons and picking up on mistakes or inaccurate answers if and when pupils reach them. Giving pupils the responsibility to check their own accuracy through self-assessment is also a great way to boost fluency.

However, in a class of 30 it can be hard to always pick up on where each pupil is in their understanding. Through our weekly 1-to-1 lessons, pupils benefit from someone monitoring, reviewing and building on their answers in real-time. Tutors are able to spot and address and gaps or misconceptions as soon as they arise, ensuring a consistent focus on both accuracy and mathematical understanding.

How to Develop Mathematical Fluency at KS2
How to Develop Mathematical Fluency at KS2

4. Observe and assess

Accuracy is a key element of fluency in maths so it’s important that teachers are using assessment during lessons and picking up on mistakes or inaccurate answers if and when pupils reach them. Giving pupils the responsibility to check their own accuracy through self-assessment is also a great way to boost fluency.

However, in a class of 30 it can be hard to always pick up on where each pupil is in their understanding. Through our weekly 1-to-1 lessons, pupils benefit from someone monitoring, reviewing and building on their answers in real-time. Tutors are able to spot and address and gaps or misconceptions as soon as they arise, ensuring a consistent focus on both accuracy and mathematical understanding.