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- Department for Education

## National curriculum in England: mathematics programmes of study

Updated 28 September 2021

## Applies to England

© Crown copyright 2021

This publication is licensed under the terms of the Open Government Licence v3.0 except where otherwise stated. To view this licence, visit nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/3 or write to the Information Policy Team, The National Archives, Kew, London TW9 4DU, or email: [email protected] .

Where we have identified any third party copyright information you will need to obtain permission from the copyright holders concerned.

This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-curriculum-in-england-mathematics-programmes-of-study/national-curriculum-in-england-mathematics-programmes-of-study

## Purpose of study

Mathematics is a creative and highly interconnected discipline that has been developed over centuries, providing the solution to some of history’s most intriguing problems. It is essential to everyday life, critical to science, technology and engineering, and necessary for financial literacy and most forms of employment. A high-quality mathematics education therefore provides a foundation for understanding the world, the ability to reason mathematically, an appreciation of the beauty and power of mathematics, and a sense of enjoyment and curiosity about the subject.

The national curriculum for mathematics aims to ensure that all pupils:

- become fluent in the fundamentals of mathematics, including through varied and frequent practice with increasingly complex problems over time, so that pupils develop conceptual understanding and the ability to recall and apply knowledge rapidly and accurately
- reason mathematically by following a line of enquiry, conjecturing relationships and generalisations, and developing an argument, justification or proof using mathematical language
- can solve problems by applying their mathematics to a variety of routine and non-routine problems with increasing sophistication, including breaking down problems into a series of simpler steps and persevering in seeking solutions

Mathematics is an interconnected subject in which pupils need to be able to move fluently between representations of mathematical ideas. The programmes of study are, by necessity, organised into apparently distinct domains, but pupils should make rich connections across mathematical ideas to develop fluency, mathematical reasoning and competence in solving increasingly sophisticated problems. They should also apply their mathematical knowledge to science and other subjects.

The expectation is that the majority of pupils will move through the programmes of study at broadly the same pace. However, decisions about when to progress should always be based on the security of pupils’ understanding and their readiness to progress to the next stage. Pupils who grasp concepts rapidly should be challenged through being offered rich and sophisticated problems before any acceleration through new content. Those who are not sufficiently fluent with earlier material should consolidate their understanding, including through additional practice, before moving on.

## Information and communication technology (ICT)

Calculators should not be used as a substitute for good written and mental arithmetic. They should therefore only be introduced near the end of key stage 2 to support pupils’ conceptual understanding and exploration of more complex number problems, if written and mental arithmetic are secure. In both primary and secondary schools, teachers should use their judgement about when ICT tools should be used.

## Spoken language

The national curriculum for mathematics reflects the importance of spoken language in pupils’ development across the whole curriculum – cognitively, socially and linguistically. The quality and variety of language that pupils hear and speak are key factors in developing their mathematical vocabulary and presenting a mathematical justification, argument or proof. They must be assisted in making their thinking clear to themselves as well as others, and teachers should ensure that pupils build secure foundations by using discussion to probe and remedy their misconceptions.

## School curriculum

The programmes of study for mathematics are set out year-by-year for key stages 1 and 2. Schools are, however, only required to teach the relevant programme of study by the end of the key stage. Within each key stage, schools therefore have the flexibility to introduce content earlier or later than set out in the programme of study. In addition, schools can introduce key stage content during an earlier key stage, if appropriate. All schools are also required to set out their school curriculum for mathematics on a year-by-year basis and make this information available online.

## Attainment targets

By the end of each key stage, pupils are expected to know, apply and understand the matters, skills and processes specified in the relevant programme of study.

Schools are not required by law to teach the example content in [square brackets] or the content indicated as being ‘non-statutory’.

## Key stage 1 - years 1 and 2

The principal focus of mathematics teaching in key stage 1 is to ensure that pupils develop confidence and mental fluency with whole numbers, counting and place value. This should involve working with numerals, words and the 4 operations, including with practical resources [for example, concrete objects and measuring tools].

At this stage, pupils should develop their ability to recognise, describe, draw, compare and sort different shapes and use the related vocabulary. Teaching should also involve using a range of measures to describe and compare different quantities such as length, mass, capacity/volume, time and money.

By the end of year 2, pupils should know the number bonds to 20 and be precise in using and understanding place value. An emphasis on practice at this early stage will aid fluency.

Pupils should read and spell mathematical vocabulary, at a level consistent with their increasing word reading and spelling knowledge at key stage 1.

## Year 1 programme of study

Number - number and place value.

Pupils should be taught to:

- count to and across 100, forwards and backwards, beginning with 0 or 1, or from any given number
- count, read and write numbers to 100 in numerals; count in multiples of 2s, 5s and 10s
- given a number, identify 1 more and 1 less
- identify and represent numbers using objects and pictorial representations including the number line, and use the language of: equal to, more than, less than (fewer), most, least
- read and write numbers from 1 to 20 in numerals and words

## Notes and guidance (non-statutory)

Pupils practise counting (1, 2, 3…), ordering (for example, first, second, third…), and to indicate a quantity (for example, 3 apples, 2 centimetres), including solving simple concrete problems, until they are fluent.

Pupils begin to recognise place value in numbers beyond 20 by reading, writing, counting and comparing numbers up to 100, supported by objects and pictorial representations.

They practise counting as reciting numbers and counting as enumerating objects, and counting in 2s, 5s and 10s from different multiples to develop their recognition of patterns in the number system (for example, odd and even numbers), including varied and frequent practice through increasingly complex questions.

They recognise and create repeating patterns with objects and with shapes.

## Number - addition and subtraction

- read, write and interpret mathematical statements involving addition (+), subtraction (−) and equals (=) signs
- represent and use number bonds and related subtraction facts within 20
- add and subtract one-digit and two-digit numbers to 20, including 0
- solve one-step problems that involve addition and subtraction, using concrete objects and pictorial representations, and missing number problems such as 7 = ? − 9

Pupils memorise and reason with number bonds to 10 and 20 in several forms (for example, 9 + 7 = 16; 16 − 7 = 9; 7 = 16 − 9). They should realise the effect of adding or subtracting 0. This establishes addition and subtraction as related operations.

Pupils combine and increase numbers, counting forwards and backwards.

They discuss and solve problems in familiar practical contexts, including using quantities. Problems should include the terms: put together, add, altogether, total, take away, distance between, difference between, more than and less than, so that pupils develop the concept of addition and subtraction and are enabled to use these operations flexibly.

## Number - multiplication and division

- solve one-step problems involving multiplication and division, by calculating the answer using concrete objects, pictorial representations and arrays with the support of the teacher

Through grouping and sharing small quantities, pupils begin to understand:

- multiplication and division
- doubling numbers and quantities
- finding simple fractions of objects, numbers and quantities

They make connections between arrays, number patterns, and counting in 2s, 5s and 10s.

## Number - fractions

- recognise, find and name a half as 1 of 2 equal parts of an object, shape or quantity
- recognise, find and name a quarter as 1 of 4 equal parts of an object, shape or quantity

Pupils are taught half and quarter as ‘fractions of’ discrete and continuous quantities by solving problems using shapes, objects and quantities. For example, they could recognise and find half a length, quantity, set of objects or shape. Pupils connect halves and quarters to the equal sharing and grouping of sets of objects and to measures, as well as recognising and combining halves and quarters as parts of a whole.

## Measurement

- lengths and heights [for example, long/short, longer/shorter, tall/short, double/half]
- mass/weight [for example, heavy/light, heavier than, lighter than]
- capacity and volume [for example, full/empty, more than, less than, half, half full, quarter]
- time [for example, quicker, slower, earlier, later]
- lengths and heights
- mass/weight
- capacity and volume
- time (hours, minutes, seconds)
- recognise and know the value of different denominations of coins and notes
- sequence events in chronological order using language [for example, before and after, next, first, today, yesterday, tomorrow, morning, afternoon and evening]
- recognise and use language relating to dates, including days of the week, weeks, months and years
- tell the time to the hour and half past the hour and draw the hands on a clock face to show these times

The pairs of terms: mass and weight, volume and capacity, are used interchangeably at this stage.

Pupils move from using and comparing different types of quantities and measures using non-standard units, including discrete (for example, counting) and continuous (for example, liquid) measurement, to using manageable common standard units.

In order to become familiar with standard measures, pupils begin to use measuring tools such as a ruler, weighing scales and containers.

Pupils use the language of time, including telling the time throughout the day, first using o’clock and then half past.

## Geometry - properties of shapes

- 2-D shapes [for example, rectangles (including squares), circles and triangles]
- 3-D shapes [for example, cuboids (including cubes), pyramids and spheres]

Pupils handle common 2-D and 3-D shapes, naming these and related everyday objects fluently. They recognise these shapes in different orientations and sizes, and know that rectangles, triangles, cuboids and pyramids are not always similar to each other.

## Geometry - position and direction

- describe position, direction and movement, including whole, half, quarter and three-quarter turns

Pupils use the language of position, direction and motion, including: left and right, top, middle and bottom, on top of, in front of, above, between, around, near, close and far, up and down, forwards and backwards, inside and outside.

Pupils make whole, half, quarter and three-quarter turns in both directions and connect turning clockwise with movement on a clock face.

## Year 2 programme of study

- count in steps of 2, 3, and 5 from 0, and in 10s from any number, forward and backward
- recognise the place value of each digit in a two-digit number (10s, 1s)
- identify, represent and estimate numbers using different representations, including the number line
- compare and order numbers from 0 up to 100; use <, > and = signs
- read and write numbers to at least 100 in numerals and in words
- use place value and number facts to solve problems

Using materials and a range of representations, pupils practise counting, reading, writing and comparing numbers to at least 100 and solving a variety of related problems to develop fluency. They count in multiples of 3 to support their later understanding of a third.

As they become more confident with numbers up to 100, pupils are introduced to larger numbers to develop further their recognition of patterns within the number system and represent them in different ways, including spatial representations.

Pupils should partition numbers in different ways (for example, 23 = 20 + 3 and 23 = 10 + 13) to support subtraction. They become fluent and apply their knowledge of numbers to reason with, discuss and solve problems that emphasise the value of each digit in two-digit numbers. They begin to understand 0 as a place holder.

- using concrete objects and pictorial representations, including those involving numbers, quantities and measures
- applying their increasing knowledge of mental and written methods
- recall and use addition and subtraction facts to 20 fluently, and derive and use related facts up to 100
- a two-digit number and 1s
- a two-digit number and 10s
- 2 two-digit numbers
- adding 3 one-digit numbers
- show that addition of 2 numbers can be done in any order (commutative) and subtraction of 1 number from another cannot
- recognise and use the inverse relationship between addition and subtraction and use this to check calculations and solve missing number problems

Pupils extend their understanding of the language of addition and subtraction to include sum and difference.

Pupils practise addition and subtraction to 20 to become increasingly fluent in deriving facts such as using 3 + 7 = 10; 10 − 7 = 3 and 7 = 10 − 3 to calculate 30 + 70 = 100; 100 − 70 = 30 and 70 = 100 − 30. They check their calculations, including by adding to check subtraction and adding numbers in a different order to check addition (for example, 5 + 2 + 1 = 1 + 5 + 2 = 1 + 2 + 5). This establishes commutativity and associativity of addition.

Recording addition and subtraction in columns supports place value and prepares for formal written methods with larger numbers.

- recall and use multiplication and division facts for the 2, 5 and 10 multiplication tables, including recognising odd and even numbers
- calculate mathematical statements for multiplication and division within the multiplication tables and write them using the multiplication (×), division (÷) and equals (=) signs
- show that multiplication of 2 numbers can be done in any order (commutative) and division of 1 number by another cannot
- solve problems involving multiplication and division, using materials, arrays, repeated addition, mental methods, and multiplication and division facts, including problems in contexts

Pupils use a variety of language to describe multiplication and division.

Pupils are introduced to the multiplication tables. They practise to become fluent in the 2, 5 and 10 multiplication tables and connect them to each other. They connect the 10 multiplication table to place value, and the 5 multiplication table to the divisions on the clock face. They begin to use other multiplication tables and recall multiplication facts, including using related division facts to perform written and mental calculations.

Pupils work with a range of materials and contexts in which multiplication and division relate to grouping and sharing discrete and continuous quantities, to arrays and to repeated addition. They begin to relate these to fractions and measures (for example, 40 ÷ 2 = 20, 20 is a half of 40). They use commutativity and inverse relations to develop multiplicative reasoning (for example, 4 × 5 = 20 and 20 ÷ 5 = 4).

- choose and use appropriate standard units to estimate and measure length/height in any direction (m/cm); mass (kg/g); temperature (°C); capacity (litres/ml) to the nearest appropriate unit, using rulers, scales, thermometers and measuring vessels
- compare and order lengths, mass, volume/capacity and record the results using >, < and =
- recognise and use symbols for pounds (£) and pence (p); combine amounts to make a particular value
- find different combinations of coins that equal the same amounts of money
- solve simple problems in a practical context involving addition and subtraction of money of the same unit, including giving change
- compare and sequence intervals of time
- tell and write the time to five minutes, including quarter past/to the hour and draw the hands on a clock face to show these times
- know the number of minutes in an hour and the number of hours in a day

Pupils use standard units of measurement with increasing accuracy, using their knowledge of the number system. They use the appropriate language and record using standard abbreviations.

Comparing measures includes simple multiples such as ‘half as high’; ‘twice as wide’.

Pupils become fluent in telling the time on analogue clocks and recording it. They become fluent in counting and recognising coins. They read and say amounts of money confidently and use the symbols £ and p accurately, recording pounds and pence separately.

- identify and describe the properties of 2-D shapes, including the number of sides, and line symmetry in a vertical line
- identify and describe the properties of 3-D shapes, including the number of edges, vertices and faces
- identify 2-D shapes on the surface of 3-D shapes, [for example, a circle on a cylinder and a triangle on a pyramid]
- compare and sort common 2-D and 3-D shapes and everyday objects

Pupils handle and name a wide variety of common 2-D and 3-D shapes including: quadrilaterals and polygons and cuboids, prisms and cones, and identify the properties of each shape (for example, number of sides, number of faces). Pupils identify, compare and sort shapes on the basis of their properties and use vocabulary precisely, such as sides, edges, vertices and faces.

Pupils read and write names for shapes that are appropriate for their word reading and spelling. Pupils draw lines and shapes using a straight edge.

- order and arrange combinations of mathematical objects in patterns and sequences
- use mathematical vocabulary to describe position, direction and movement, including movement in a straight line and distinguishing between rotation as a turn and in terms of right angles for quarter, half and three-quarter turns (clockwise and anti-clockwise)

Pupils should work with patterns of shapes, including those in different orientations.

Pupils use the concept and language of angles to describe ‘turn’ by applying rotations, including in practical contexts (for example, pupils themselves moving in turns, giving instructions to other pupils to do so, and programming robots using instructions given in right angles).

- interpret and construct simple pictograms, tally charts, block diagrams and tables
- ask and answer simple questions by counting the number of objects in each category and sorting the categories by quantity
- ask-and-answer questions about totalling and comparing categorical data

Pupils record, interpret, collate, organise and compare information (for example, using many-to-one correspondence in pictograms with simple ratios 2, 5,10).

## Lower key stage 2 - years 3 and 4

The principal focus of mathematics teaching in lower key stage 2 is to ensure that pupils become increasingly fluent with whole numbers and the 4 operations, including number facts and the concept of place value. This should ensure that pupils develop efficient written and mental methods and perform calculations accurately with increasingly large whole numbers.

At this stage, pupils should develop their ability to solve a range of problems, including with simple fractions and decimal place value. Teaching should also ensure that pupils draw with increasing accuracy and develop mathematical reasoning so they can analyse shapes and their properties, and confidently describe the relationships between them. It should ensure that they can use measuring instruments with accuracy and make connections between measure and number.

By the end of year 4, pupils should have memorised their multiplication tables up to and including the 12 multiplication table and show precision and fluency in their work.

Pupils should read and spell mathematical vocabulary correctly and confidently, using their growing word-reading knowledge and their knowledge of spelling.

## Year 3 programme of study

- count from 0 in multiples of 4, 8, 50 and 100; find 10 or 100 more or less than a given number
- recognise the place value of each digit in a 3-digit number (100s, 10s, 1s)
- compare and order numbers up to 1,000
- identify, represent and estimate numbers using different representations
- read and write numbers up to 1,000 in numerals and in words
- solve number problems and practical problems involving these ideas

Pupils now use multiples of 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 10, 50 and 100.

They use larger numbers to at least 1,000, applying partitioning related to place value using varied and increasingly complex problems, building on work in year 2 (for example, 146 = 100 + 40 + 6, 146 = 130 +16).

Using a variety of representations, including those related to measure, pupils continue to count in 1s, 10s and 100s, so that they become fluent in the order and place value of numbers to 1,000.

- a three-digit number and 1s
- a three-digit number and 10s
- a three-digit number and 100s
- add and subtract numbers with up to 3 digits, using formal written methods of columnar addition and subtraction
- estimate the answer to a calculation and use inverse operations to check answers
- solve problems, including missing number problems, using number facts, place value, and more complex addition and subtraction

Pupils practise solving varied addition and subtraction questions. For mental calculations with two-digit numbers, the answers could exceed 100.

Pupils use their understanding of place value and partitioning, and practise using columnar addition and subtraction with increasingly large numbers up to 3 digits to become fluent (see mathematics appendix 1 (PDF, 248KB) ).

- recall and use multiplication and division facts for the 3, 4 and 8 multiplication tables
- write and calculate mathematical statements for multiplication and division using the multiplication tables that they know, including for two-digit numbers times one-digit numbers, using mental and progressing to formal written methods
- solve problems, including missing number problems, involving multiplication and division, including positive integer scaling problems and correspondence problems in which n objects are connected to m objects

Pupils continue to practise their mental recall of multiplication tables when they are calculating mathematical statements in order to improve fluency. Through doubling, they connect the 2, 4 and 8 multiplication tables.

Pupils develop efficient mental methods, for example, using commutativity and associativity (for example, 4 × 12 × 5 = 4 × 5 × 12 = 20 × 12 = 240) and multiplication and division facts (for example, using 3 × 2 = 6, 6 ÷ 3 = 2 and 2 = 6 ÷ 3) to derive related facts (30 × 2 = 60, 60 ÷ 3 = 20 and 20 = 60 ÷ 3).

Pupils develop reliable written methods for multiplication and division, starting with calculations of two-digit numbers by one-digit numbers and progressing to the formal written methods of short multiplication and division.

Pupils solve simple problems in contexts, deciding which of the 4 operations to use and why. These include measuring and scaling contexts, (for example 4 times as high, 8 times as long etc) and correspondence problems in which m objects are connected to n objects (for example, 3 hats and 4 coats, how many different outfits?, 12 sweets shared equally between 4 children, 4 cakes shared equally between 8 children).

- count up and down in tenths; recognise that tenths arise from dividing an object into 10 equal parts and in dividing one-digit numbers or quantities by 10
- recognise, find and write fractions of a discrete set of objects: unit fractions and non-unit fractions with small denominators
- recognise and use fractions as numbers: unit fractions and non-unit fractions with small denominators
- recognise and show, using diagrams, equivalent fractions with small denominators

- compare and order unit fractions, and fractions with the same denominators
- solve problems that involve all of the above

Pupils connect tenths to place value, decimal measures and to division by 10.

They begin to understand unit and non-unit fractions as numbers on the number line, and deduce relations between them, such as size and equivalence. They should go beyond the [0, 1] interval, including relating this to measure.

Pupils understand the relation between unit fractions as operators (fractions of), and division by integers.

They continue to recognise fractions in the context of parts of a whole, numbers, measurements, a shape, and unit fractions as a division of a quantity.

Pupils practise adding and subtracting fractions with the same denominator through a variety of increasingly complex problems to improve fluency.

- measure, compare, add and subtract: lengths (m/cm/mm); mass (kg/g); volume/capacity (l/ml)
- measure the perimeter of simple 2-D shapes
- add and subtract amounts of money to give change, using both £ and p in practical contexts
- tell and write the time from an analogue clock, including using Roman numerals from I to XII, and 12-hour and 24-hour clocks
- estimate and read time with increasing accuracy to the nearest minute; record and compare time in terms of seconds, minutes and hours; use vocabulary such as o’clock, am/pm, morning, afternoon, noon and midnight
- know the number of seconds in a minute and the number of days in each month, year and leap year
- compare durations of events [for example, to calculate the time taken by particular events or tasks]

Pupils continue to measure using the appropriate tools and units, progressing to using a wider range of measures, including comparing and using mixed units (for example, 1 kg and 200g) and simple equivalents of mixed units (for example, 5m = 500cm).

The comparison of measures includes simple scaling by integers (for example, a given quantity or measure is twice as long or 5 times as high) and this connects to multiplication.

Pupils continue to become fluent in recognising the value of coins, by adding and subtracting amounts, including mixed units, and giving change using manageable amounts. They record £ and p separately. The decimal recording of money is introduced formally in year 4.

Pupils use both analogue and digital 12-hour clocks and record their times. In this way they become fluent in and prepared for using digital 24-hour clocks in year 4.

- draw 2-D shapes and make 3-D shapes using modelling materials; recognise 3-D shapes in different orientations and describe them
- recognise angles as a property of shape or a description of a turn
- identify right angles, recognise that 2 right angles make a half-turn, 3 make three-quarters of a turn and 4 a complete turn; identify whether angles are greater than or less than a right angle
- identify horizontal and vertical lines and pairs of perpendicular and parallel lines

Pupils’ knowledge of the properties of shapes is extended at this stage to symmetrical and non-symmetrical polygons and polyhedra. Pupils extend their use of the properties of shapes. They should be able to describe the properties of 2-D and 3-D shapes using accurate language, including lengths of lines and acute and obtuse for angles greater or lesser than a right angle.

Pupils connect decimals and rounding to drawing and measuring straight lines in centimetres, in a variety of contexts.

- interpret and present data using bar charts, pictograms and tables
- solve one-step and two-step questions [for example ‘How many more?’ and ‘How many fewer?’] using information presented in scaled bar charts and pictograms and tables

Pupils understand and use simple scales (for example, 2, 5, 10 units per cm) in pictograms and bar charts with increasing accuracy.

They continue to interpret data presented in many contexts.

## Year 4 programme of study

- count in multiples of 6, 7, 9, 25 and 1,000
- find 1,000 more or less than a given number
- count backwards through 0 to include negative numbers
- recognise the place value of each digit in a four-digit number (1,000s, 100s, 10s, and 1s)
- order and compare numbers beyond 1,000
- round any number to the nearest 10, 100 or 1,000
- solve number and practical problems that involve all of the above and with increasingly large positive numbers
- read Roman numerals to 100 (I to C) and know that over time, the numeral system changed to include the concept of 0 and place value

Using a variety of representations, including measures, pupils become fluent in the order and place value of numbers beyond 1,000, including counting in 10s and 100s, and maintaining fluency in other multiples through varied and frequent practice. They begin to extend their knowledge of the number system to include the decimal numbers and fractions that they have met so far.

They connect estimation and rounding numbers to the use of measuring instruments.

Roman numerals should be put in their historical context so pupils understand that there have been different ways to write whole numbers and that the important concepts of 0 and place value were introduced over a period of time.

- add and subtract numbers with up to 4 digits using the formal written methods of columnar addition and subtraction where appropriate
- estimate and use inverse operations to check answers to a calculation
- solve addition and subtraction two-step problems in contexts, deciding which operations and methods to use and why

Pupils continue to practise both mental methods and columnar addition and subtraction with increasingly large numbers to aid fluency (see mathematics appendix 1 (PDF, 248KB) ).

- recall multiplication and division facts for multiplication tables up to 12 × 12
- use place value, known and derived facts to multiply and divide mentally, including: multiplying by 0 and 1; dividing by 1; multiplying together 3 numbers
- recognise and use factor pairs and commutativity in mental calculations
- multiply two-digit and three-digit numbers by a one-digit number using formal written layout
- solve problems involving multiplying and adding, including using the distributive law to multiply two-digit numbers by 1 digit, integer scaling problems and harder correspondence problems such as n objects are connected to m objects

Pupils continue to practise recalling and using multiplication tables and related division facts to aid fluency.

Pupils practise mental methods and extend this to 3-digit numbers to derive facts, (for example 600 ÷ 3 = 200 can be derived from 2 x 3 = 6).

Pupils practise to become fluent in the formal written method of short multiplication and short division with exact answers (see mathematics appendix 1 (PDF, 248KB) ).

Pupils write statements about the equality of expressions (for example, use the distributive law 39 × 7 = 30 × 7 + 9 × 7 and associative law (2 × 3) × 4 = 2 × (3 × 4)). They combine their knowledge of number facts and rules of arithmetic to solve mental and written calculations for example, 2 x 6 x 5 = 10 x 6 = 60.

Pupils solve two-step problems in contexts, choosing the appropriate operation, working with increasingly harder numbers. This should include correspondence questions such as the numbers of choices of a meal on a menu, or 3 cakes shared equally between 10 children.

## Number - fractions (including decimals)

- recognise and show, using diagrams, families of common equivalent fractions
- count up and down in hundredths; recognise that hundredths arise when dividing an object by 100 and dividing tenths by 10
- solve problems involving increasingly harder fractions to calculate quantities, and fractions to divide quantities, including non-unit fractions where the answer is a whole number
- add and subtract fractions with the same denominator
- recognise and write decimal equivalents of any number of tenths or hundreds
- find the effect of dividing a one- or two-digit number by 10 and 100, identifying the value of the digits in the answer as ones, tenths and hundredths
- round decimals with 1 decimal place to the nearest whole number
- compare numbers with the same number of decimal places up to 2 decimal places
- solve simple measure and money problems involving fractions and decimals to 2 decimal places

Pupils should connect hundredths to tenths and place value and decimal measure.

They extend the use of the number line to connect fractions, numbers and measures.

Pupils continue to practise adding and subtracting fractions with the same denominator, to become fluent through a variety of increasingly complex problems beyond one whole.

Pupils are taught throughout that decimals and fractions are different ways of expressing numbers and proportions.

Pupils’ understanding of the number system and decimal place value is extended at this stage to tenths and then hundredths. This includes relating the decimal notation to division of whole number by 10 and later 100.

They practise counting using simple fractions and decimals, both forwards and backwards.

Pupils learn decimal notation and the language associated with it, including in the context of measurements. They make comparisons and order decimal amounts and quantities that are expressed to the same number of decimal places. They should be able to represent numbers with 1 or 2 decimal places in several ways, such as on number lines.

- convert between different units of measure [for example, kilometre to metre; hour to minute]
- measure and calculate the perimeter of a rectilinear figure (including squares) in centimetres and metres
- find the area of rectilinear shapes by counting squares
- estimate, compare and calculate different measures, including money in pounds and pence
- read, write and convert time between analogue and digital 12- and 24-hour clocks
- solve problems involving converting from hours to minutes, minutes to seconds, years to months, weeks to days

Pupils build on their understanding of place value and decimal notation to record metric measures, including money.

They use multiplication to convert from larger to smaller units.

Perimeter can be expressed algebraically as 2(a + b) where a and b are the dimensions in the same unit.

They relate area to arrays and multiplication.

- compare and classify geometric shapes, including quadrilaterals and triangles, based on their properties and sizes
- identify acute and obtuse angles and compare and order angles up to 2 right angles by size
- identify lines of symmetry in 2-D shapes presented in different orientations
- complete a simple symmetric figure with respect to a specific line of symmetry

Pupils continue to classify shapes using geometrical properties, extending to classifying different triangles (for example, isosceles, equilateral, scalene) and quadrilaterals (for example, parallelogram, rhombus, trapezium).

Pupils compare and order angles in preparation for using a protractor and compare lengths and angles to decide if a polygon is regular or irregular.

Pupils draw symmetric patterns using a variety of media to become familiar with different orientations of lines of symmetry; and recognise line symmetry in a variety of diagrams, including where the line of symmetry does not dissect the original shape.

- describe positions on a 2-D grid as coordinates in the first quadrant
- describe movements between positions as translations of a given unit to the left/right and up/down
- plot specified points and draw sides to complete a given polygon

Pupils draw a pair of axes in one quadrant, with equal scales and integer labels. They read, write and use pairs of co-ordinates, for example (2, 5), including using co-ordinate-plotting ICT tools.

- interpret and present discrete and continuous data using appropriate graphical methods, including bar charts and time graphs
- solve comparison, sum and difference problems using information presented in bar charts, pictograms, tables and other graphs

Pupils understand and use a greater range of scales in their representations.

Pupils begin to relate the graphical representation of data to recording change over time.

## Upper key stage 2 - years 5 and 6

The principal focus of mathematics teaching in upper key stage 2 is to ensure that pupils extend their understanding of the number system and place value to include larger integers. This should develop the connections that pupils make between multiplication and division with fractions, decimals, percentages and ratio.

At this stage, pupils should develop their ability to solve a wider range of problems, including increasingly complex properties of numbers and arithmetic, and problems demanding efficient written and mental methods of calculation. With this foundation in arithmetic, pupils are introduced to the language of algebra as a means for solving a variety of problems. Teaching in geometry and measures should consolidate and extend knowledge developed in number. Teaching should also ensure that pupils classify shapes with increasingly complex geometric properties and that they learn the vocabulary they need to describe them.

By the end of year 6, pupils should be fluent in written methods for all 4 operations, including long multiplication and division, and in working with fractions, decimals and percentages.

Pupils should read, spell and pronounce mathematical vocabulary correctly.

## Year 5 programme of study

- read, write, order and compare numbers to at least 1,000,000 and determine the value of each digit
- count forwards or backwards in steps of powers of 10 for any given number up to 1,000,000
- interpret negative numbers in context, count forwards and backwards with positive and negative whole numbers, including through 0
- round any number up to 1,000,000 to the nearest 10, 100, 1,000, 10,000 and 100,000
- solve number problems and practical problems that involve all of the above
- read Roman numerals to 1,000 (M) and recognise years written in Roman numerals

Pupils identify the place value in large whole numbers.

They continue to use number in context, including measurement. Pupils extend and apply their understanding of the number system to the decimal numbers and fractions that they have met so far.

- add and subtract whole numbers with more than 4 digits, including using formal written methods (columnar addition and subtraction)
- add and subtract numbers mentally with increasingly large numbers
- use rounding to check answers to calculations and determine, in the context of a problem, levels of accuracy
- solve addition and subtraction multi-step problems in contexts, deciding which operations and methods to use and why

Pupils practise using the formal written methods of columnar addition and subtraction with increasingly large numbers to aid fluency (see mathematics appendix 1 (PDF, 248KB) ).

They practise mental calculations with increasingly large numbers to aid fluency (for example, 12,462 – 2,300 = 10,162).

- identify multiples and factors, including finding all factor pairs of a number, and common factors of 2 numbers
- know and use the vocabulary of prime numbers, prime factors and composite (non-prime) numbers
- establish whether a number up to 100 is prime and recall prime numbers up to 19
- multiply numbers up to 4 digits by a one- or two-digit number using a formal written method, including long multiplication for two-digit numbers
- multiply and divide numbers mentally, drawing upon known facts
- divide numbers up to 4 digits by a one-digit number using the formal written method of short division and interpret remainders appropriately for the context
- multiply and divide whole numbers and those involving decimals by 10, 100 and 1,000
- recognise and use square numbers and cube numbers, and the notation for squared (²) and cubed (³)
- solve problems involving multiplication and division, including using their knowledge of factors and multiples, squares and cubes
- solve problems involving addition, subtraction, multiplication and division and a combination of these, including understanding the meaning of the equals sign
- solve problems involving multiplication and division, including scaling by simple fractions and problems involving simple rates

Pupils practise and extend their use of the formal written methods of short multiplication and short division (see mathematics appendix 1 (PDF, 248KB) ). They apply all the multiplication tables and related division facts frequently, commit them to memory and use them confidently to make larger calculations.

They use and understand the terms factor, multiple and prime, square and cube numbers.

Pupils use multiplication and division as inverses to support the introduction of ratio in year 6, for example, by multiplying and dividing by powers of 10 in scale drawings or by multiplying and dividing by powers of a 1,000 in converting between units such as kilometres and metres.

Distributivity can be expressed as a(b + c) = ab + ac.

They understand the terms factor, multiple and prime, square and cube numbers and use them to construct equivalence statements (for example, 4 x 35 = 2 x 2 x 35; 3 x 270 = 3 x 3 x 9 x 10 = 9² x 10).

Pupils use and explain the equals sign to indicate equivalence, including in missing number problems (for example 13 + 24 = 12 + 25; 33 = 5 x ?).

## Number - fractions (including decimals and percentages)

- compare and order fractions whose denominators are all multiples of the same number
- identify, name and write equivalent fractions of a given fraction, represented visually, including tenths and hundredths

- add and subtract fractions with the same denominator, and denominators that are multiples of the same number
- multiply proper fractions and mixed numbers by whole numbers, supported by materials and diagrams

- recognise and use thousandths and relate them to tenths, hundredths and decimal equivalents
- round decimals with 2 decimal places to the nearest whole number and to 1 decimal place
- read, write, order and compare numbers with up to 3 decimal places
- solve problems involving number up to 3 decimal places
- recognise the per cent symbol (%) and understand that per cent relates to ‘number of parts per 100’, and write percentages as a fraction with denominator 100, and as a decimal fraction

Pupils should be taught throughout that percentages, decimals and fractions are different ways of expressing proportions.

They extend their knowledge of fractions to thousandths and connect to decimals and measures.

Pupils connect equivalent fractions > 1 that simplify to integers with division and other fractions > 1 to division with remainders, using the number line and other models, and hence move from these to improper and mixed fractions.

Pupils connect multiplication by a fraction to using fractions as operators (fractions of), and to division, building on work from previous years. This relates to scaling by simple fractions, including fractions > 1.

Pupils practise adding and subtracting fractions to become fluent through a variety of increasingly complex problems. They extend their understanding of adding and subtracting fractions to calculations that exceed 1 as a mixed number.

Pupils continue to practise counting forwards and backwards in simple fractions.

Pupils continue to develop their understanding of fractions as numbers, measures and operators by finding fractions of numbers and quantities.

Pupils extend counting from year 4, using decimals and fractions including bridging 0, for example on a number line.

Pupils say, read and write decimal fractions and related tenths, hundredths and thousandths accurately and are confident in checking the reasonableness of their answers to problems.

They mentally add and subtract tenths, and one-digit whole numbers and tenths.

They practise adding and subtracting decimals, including a mix of whole numbers and decimals, decimals with different numbers of decimal places, and complements of 1 (for example, 0.83 + 0.17 = 1).

Pupils should go beyond the measurement and money models of decimals, for example, by solving puzzles involving decimals.

- convert between different units of metric measure [for example, kilometre and metre; centimetre and metre; centimetre and millimetre; gram and kilogram; litre and millilitre]
- understand and use approximate equivalences between metric units and common imperial units such as inches, pounds and pints
- measure and calculate the perimeter of composite rectilinear shapes in centimetres and metres
- calculate and compare the area of rectangles (including squares), including using standard units, square centimetres (cm²) and square metres (m²), and estimate the area of irregular shapes
- estimate volume [for example, using 1 cm³ blocks to build cuboids (including cubes)] and capacity [for example, using water]
- solve problems involving converting between units of time
- use all four operations to solve problems involving measure [for example, length, mass, volume, money] using decimal notation, including scaling

Pupils use their knowledge of place value and multiplication and division to convert between standard units.

Pupils calculate the perimeter of rectangles and related composite shapes, including using the relations of perimeter or area to find unknown lengths. Missing measures questions such as these can be expressed algebraically, for example 4 + 2b = 20 for a rectangle of sides 2 cm and b cm and perimeter of 20cm.

Pupils calculate the area from scale drawings using given measurements.

Pupils use all 4 operations in problems involving time and money, including conversions (for example, days to weeks, expressing the answer as weeks and days).

- identify 3-D shapes, including cubes and other cuboids, from 2-D representations
- know angles are measured in degrees: estimate and compare acute, obtuse and reflex angles
- draw given angles, and measure them in degrees (°)
- angles at a point and 1 whole turn (total 360°)
- angles at a point on a straight line and half a turn (total 180°)
- other multiples of 90°
- use the properties of rectangles to deduce related facts and find missing lengths and angles
- distinguish between regular and irregular polygons based on reasoning about equal sides and angles

Pupils become accurate in drawing lines with a ruler to the nearest millimetre, and measuring with a protractor. They use conventional markings for parallel lines and right angles.

Pupils use the term diagonal and make conjectures about the angles formed between sides, and between diagonals and parallel sides, and other properties of quadrilaterals, for example using dynamic geometry ICT tools.

Pupils use angle sum facts and other properties to make deductions about missing angles and relate these to missing number problems.

- identify, describe and represent the position of a shape following a reflection or translation, using the appropriate language, and know that the shape has not changed

Pupils recognise and use reflection and translation in a variety of diagrams, including continuing to use a 2-D grid and coordinates in the first quadrant. Reflection should be in lines that are parallel to the axes.

- solve comparison, sum and difference problems using information presented in a line graph
- complete, read and interpret information in tables, including timetables

Pupils connect their work on coordinates and scales to their interpretation of time graphs.

They begin to decide which representations of data are most appropriate and why.

## Year 6 programme of study

- read, write, order and compare numbers up to 10,000,000 and determine the value of each digit
- round any whole number to a required degree of accuracy
- use negative numbers in context, and calculate intervals across 0
- solve number and practical problems that involve all of the above

Pupils use the whole number system, including saying, reading and writing numbers accurately.

## Number - addition, subtraction, multiplication and division

- multiply multi-digit numbers up to 4 digits by a two-digit whole number using the formal written method of long multiplication
- divide numbers up to 4 digits by a two-digit whole number using the formal written method of long division, and interpret remainders as whole number remainders, fractions, or by rounding, as appropriate for the context
- divide numbers up to 4 digits by a two-digit number using the formal written method of short division where appropriate, interpreting remainders according to the context
- perform mental calculations, including with mixed operations and large numbers
- identify common factors, common multiples and prime numbers
- use their knowledge of the order of operations to carry out calculations involving the 4 operations
- solve problems involving addition, subtraction, multiplication and division
- use estimation to check answers to calculations and determine, in the context of a problem, an appropriate degree of accuracy

Pupils practise addition, subtraction, multiplication and division for larger numbers, using the formal written methods of columnar addition and subtraction, short and long multiplication, and short and long division (see mathematics appendix 1 (PDF, 248KB) ).

They undertake mental calculations with increasingly large numbers and more complex calculations.

Pupils continue to use all the multiplication tables to calculate mathematical statements in order to maintain their fluency.

Pupils round answers to a specified degree of accuracy, for example, to the nearest 10, 20, 50, etc, but not to a specified number of significant figures.

Pupils explore the order of operations using brackets; for example, 2 + 1 x 3 = 5 and (2 + 1) x 3 = 9.

Common factors can be related to finding equivalent fractions.

## Number - Fractions (including decimals and percentages)

- use common factors to simplify fractions; use common multiples to express fractions in the same denomination
- compare and order fractions, including fractions >1
- add and subtract fractions with different denominators and mixed numbers, using the concept of equivalent fractions

- identify the value of each digit in numbers given to 3 decimal places and multiply and divide numbers by 10, 100 and 1,000 giving answers up to 3 decimal places
- multiply one-digit numbers with up to 2 decimal places by whole numbers
- use written division methods in cases where the answer has up to 2 decimal places
- solve problems which require answers to be rounded to specified degrees of accuracy
- recall and use equivalences between simple fractions, decimals and percentages, including in different contexts

Pupils should use a variety of images to support their understanding of multiplication with fractions. This follows earlier work about fractions as operators (fractions of), as numbers, and as equal parts of objects, for example as parts of a rectangle. Pupils use their understanding of the relationship between unit fractions and division to work backwards by multiplying a quantity that represents a unit fraction to find the whole quantity (for example, if quarter of a length is 36cm, then the whole length is 36 × 4 = 144cm).

They practise calculations with simple fractions and decimal fraction equivalents to aid fluency, including listing equivalent fractions to identify fractions with common denominators.

Pupils can explore and make conjectures about converting a simple fraction to a decimal fraction (for example, 3 ÷ 8 = 0.375). For simple fractions with recurring decimal equivalents, pupils learn about rounding the decimal to three decimal places, or other appropriate approximations depending on the context. Pupils multiply and divide numbers with up to 2 decimal places by one-digit and two-digit whole numbers. Pupils multiply decimals by whole numbers, starting with the simplest cases, such as 0.4 × 2 = 0.8, and in practical contexts, such as measures and money.

Pupils are introduced to the division of decimal numbers by one-digit whole numbers, initially, in practical contexts involving measures and money. They recognise division calculations as the inverse of multiplication.

Pupils also develop their skills of rounding and estimating as a means of predicting and checking the order of magnitude of their answers to decimal calculations. This includes rounding answers to a specified degree of accuracy and checking the reasonableness of their answers.

## Ratio and proportion

- solve problems involving the relative sizes of 2 quantities where missing values can be found by using integer multiplication and division facts
- solve problems involving the calculation of percentages [for example, of measures and such as 15% of 360] and the use of percentages for comparison
- solve problems involving similar shapes where the scale factor is known or can be found
- solve problems involving unequal sharing and grouping using knowledge of fractions and multiples

Pupils recognise proportionality in contexts when the relations between quantities are in the same ratio (for example, similar shapes and recipes).

Pupils link percentages or 360° to calculating angles of pie charts.

Pupils should consolidate their understanding of ratio when comparing quantities, sizes and scale drawings by solving a variety of problems. They might use the notation a:b to record their work.

- use simple formulae
- generate and describe linear number sequences
- express missing number problems algebraically
- find pairs of numbers that satisfy an equation with 2 unknowns
- enumerate possibilities of combinations of 2 variables

Pupils should be introduced to the use of symbols and letters to represent variables and unknowns in mathematical situations that they already understand, such as:

- missing numbers, lengths, coordinates and angles
- formulae in mathematics and science
- equivalent expressions (for example, a + b = b + a)
- generalisations of number patterns
- number puzzles (for example, what 2 numbers can add up to)
- solve problems involving the calculation and conversion of units of measure, using decimal notation up to 3 decimal places where appropriate
- use, read, write and convert between standard units, converting measurements of length, mass, volume and time from a smaller unit of measure to a larger unit, and vice versa, using decimal notation to up to 3 decimal places
- convert between miles and kilometres
- recognise that shapes with the same areas can have different perimeters and vice versa
- recognise when it is possible to use formulae for area and volume of shapes
- calculate the area of parallelograms and triangles
- calculate, estimate and compare volume of cubes and cuboids using standard units, including cubic centimetres (cm³) and cubic metres (m³), and extending to other units [for example, mm³ and km³]

Pupils connect conversion (for example, from kilometres to miles) to a graphical representation as preparation for understanding linear/proportional graphs.

They know approximate conversions and are able to tell if an answer is sensible.

Using the number line, pupils use, add and subtract positive and negative integers for measures such as temperature.

They relate the area of rectangles to parallelograms and triangles, for example, by dissection, and calculate their areas, understanding and using the formulae (in words or symbols) to do this.

Pupils could be introduced to compound units for speed, such as miles per hour, and apply their knowledge in science or other subjects as appropriate.

- draw 2-D shapes using given dimensions and angles
- recognise, describe and build simple 3-D shapes, including making nets
- compare and classify geometric shapes based on their properties and sizes and find unknown angles in any triangles, quadrilaterals, and regular polygons
- illustrate and name parts of circles, including radius, diameter and circumference and know that the diameter is twice the radius
- recognise angles where they meet at a point, are on a straight line, or are vertically opposite, and find missing angles

Pupils draw shapes and nets accurately, using measuring tools and conventional markings and labels for lines and angles.

Pupils describe the properties of shapes and explain how unknown angles and lengths can be derived from known measurements.

These relationships might be expressed algebraically for example, d = 2 × r; a = 180 − (b + c).

- describe positions on the full coordinate grid (all 4 quadrants)
- draw and translate simple shapes on the coordinate plane, and reflect them in the axes

Pupils draw and label a pair of axes in all 4 quadrants with equal scaling. This extends their knowledge of one quadrant to all 4 quadrants, including the use of negative numbers.

Pupils draw and label rectangles (including squares), parallelograms and rhombuses, specified by coordinates in the four quadrants, predicting missing coordinates using the properties of shapes. These might be expressed algebraically for example, translating vertex (a, b) to (a − 2, b + 3); (a, b) and (a + d, b + d) being opposite vertices of a square of side d.

- interpret and construct pie charts and line graphs and use these to solve problems
- calculate and interpret the mean as an average

Pupils connect their work on angles, fractions and percentages to the interpretation of pie charts.

Pupils both encounter and draw graphs relating 2 variables, arising from their own enquiry and in other subjects.

They should connect conversion from kilometres to miles in measurement to its graphical representation.

Pupils know when it is appropriate to find the mean of a data set.

## Key stage 3

Introduction.

Mathematics is an interconnected subject in which pupils need to be able to move fluently between representations of mathematical ideas. The programme of study for key stage 3 is organised into apparently distinct domains, but pupils should build on key stage 2 and connections across mathematical ideas to develop fluency, mathematical reasoning and competence in solving increasingly sophisticated problems. They should also apply their mathematical knowledge in science, geography, computing and other subjects.

Decisions about progression should be based on the security of pupils’ understanding and their readiness to progress to the next stage. Pupils who grasp concepts rapidly should be challenged through being offered rich and sophisticated problems before any acceleration through new content in preparation for key stage 4. Those who are not sufficiently fluent should consolidate their understanding, including through additional practice, before moving on.

## Working mathematically

Through the mathematics content, pupils should be taught to:

## Develop fluency

- consolidate their numerical and mathematical capability from key stage 2 and extend their understanding of the number system and place value to include decimals, fractions, powers and roots
- select and use appropriate calculation strategies to solve increasingly complex problems
- use algebra to generalise the structure of arithmetic, including to formulate mathematical relationships
- substitute values in expressions, rearrange and simplify expressions, and solve equations
- move freely between different numerical, algebraic, graphical and diagrammatic representations [for example, equivalent fractions, fractions and decimals, and equations and graphs]
- develop algebraic and graphical fluency, including understanding linear and simple quadratic functions
- use language and properties precisely to analyse numbers, algebraic expressions, 2-D and 3-D shapes, probability and statistics

## Reason mathematically

- extend their understanding of the number system; make connections between number relationships, and their algebraic and graphical representations
- extend and formalise their knowledge of ratio and proportion in working with measures and geometry, and in formulating proportional relations algebraically
- identify variables and express relations between variables algebraically and graphically
- make and test conjectures about patterns and relationships; look for proofs or counter-examples
- begin to reason deductively in geometry, number and algebra, including using geometrical constructions
- interpret when the structure of a numerical problem requires additive, multiplicative or proportional reasoning
- explore what can and cannot be inferred in statistical and probabilistic settings, and begin to express their arguments formally

## Solve problems

- develop their mathematical knowledge, in part through solving problems and evaluating the outcomes, including multi-step problems
- develop their use of formal mathematical knowledge to interpret and solve problems, including in financial mathematics
- begin to model situations mathematically and express the results using a range of formal mathematical representations
- select appropriate concepts, methods and techniques to apply to unfamiliar and non-routine problems

## Subject content

- understand and use place value for decimals, measures and integers of any size
- order positive and negative integers, decimals and fractions; use the number line as a model for ordering of the real numbers; use the symbols =, ≠, <, >, ≤, ≥
- use the concepts and vocabulary of prime numbers, factors (or divisors), multiples, common factors, common multiples, highest common factor, lowest common multiple, prime factorisation, including using product notation and the unique factorisation property
- use the 4 operations, including formal written methods, applied to integers, decimals, proper and improper fractions, and mixed numbers, all both positive and negative
- use conventional notation for the priority of operations, including brackets, powers, roots and reciprocals
- recognise and use relationships between operations including inverse operations
- use integer powers and associated real roots (square, cube and higher), recognise powers of 2, 3, 4, 5 and distinguish between exact representations of roots and their decimal approximations
- interpret and compare numbers in standard form A x 10 n 1≤A<10, where n is a positive or negative integer or 0

- define percentage as ‘number of parts per hundred’, interpret percentages and percentage changes as a fraction or a decimal, interpret these multiplicatively, express 1 quantity as a percentage of another, compare 2 quantities using percentages, and work with percentages greater than 100%
- interpret fractions and percentages as operators
- use standard units of mass, length, time, money and other measures, including with decimal quantities
- round numbers and measures to an appropriate degree of accuracy [for example, to a number of decimal places or significant figures]
- use approximation through rounding to estimate answers and calculate possible resulting errors expressed using inequality notation a<x≤b
- use a calculator and other technologies to calculate results accurately and then interpret them appropriately
- appreciate the infinite nature of the sets of integers, real and rational numbers
- ab in place of a × b
- 3y in place of y + y + y and 3 × y
- a² in place of a × a, a³ in place of a × a × a; a²b in place of a × a × b

- coefficients written as fractions rather than as decimals
- substitute numerical values into formulae and expressions, including scientific formulae
- understand and use the concepts and vocabulary of expressions, equations, inequalities, terms and factors
- collecting like terms
- multiplying a single term over a bracket
- taking out common factors
- expanding products of 2 or more binomials
- understand and use standard mathematical formulae; rearrange formulae to change the subject
- model situations or procedures by translating them into algebraic expressions or formulae and by using graphs
- use algebraic methods to solve linear equations in 1 variable (including all forms that require rearrangement)
- work with coordinates in all 4 quadrants
- recognise, sketch and produce graphs of linear and quadratic functions of 1 variable with appropriate scaling, using equations in x and y and the Cartesian plane
- interpret mathematical relationships both algebraically and graphically
- reduce a given linear equation in 2 variables to the standard form y = mx + c; calculate and interpret gradients and intercepts of graphs of such linear equations numerically, graphically and algebraically
- use linear and quadratic graphs to estimate values of y for given values of x and vice versa and to find approximate solutions of simultaneous linear equations
- find approximate solutions to contextual problems from given graphs of a variety of functions, including piece-wise linear, exponential and reciprocal graphs
- generate terms of a sequence from either a term-to-term or a position-to-term rule
- recognise arithmetic sequences and find the nth term
- recognise geometric sequences and appreciate other sequences that arise

## Ratio, proportion and rates of change

- change freely between related standard units [for example time, length, area, volume/capacity, mass]
- use scale factors, scale diagrams and maps
- express 1 quantity as a fraction of another, where the fraction is less than 1 and greater than 1
- use ratio notation, including reduction to simplest form
- divide a given quantity into 2 parts in a given part:part or part:whole ratio; express the division of a quantity into 2 parts as a ratio
- understand that a multiplicative relationship between 2 quantities can be expressed as a ratio or a fraction
- relate the language of ratios and the associated calculations to the arithmetic of fractions and to linear functions
- solve problems involving percentage change, including: percentage increase, decrease and original value problems and simple interest in financial mathematics
- solve problems involving direct and inverse proportion, including graphical and algebraic representations
- use compound units such as speed, unit pricing and density to solve problems

## Geometry and measures

- derive and apply formulae to calculate and solve problems involving: perimeter and area of triangles, parallelograms, trapezia, volume of cuboids (including cubes) and other prisms (including cylinders)
- calculate and solve problems involving: perimeters of 2-D shapes (including circles), areas of circles and composite shapes
- draw and measure line segments and angles in geometric figures, including interpreting scale drawings
- derive and use the standard ruler and compass constructions (perpendicular bisector of a line segment, constructing a perpendicular to a given line from/at a given point, bisecting a given angle); recognise and use the perpendicular distance from a point to a line as the shortest distance to the line
- describe, sketch and draw using conventional terms and notations: points, lines, parallel lines, perpendicular lines, right angles, regular polygons, and other polygons that are reflectively and rotationally symmetric
- use the standard conventions for labelling the sides and angles of triangle ABC, and know and use the criteria for congruence of triangles
- derive and illustrate properties of triangles, quadrilaterals, circles, and other plane figures [for example, equal lengths and angles] using appropriate language and technologies
- identify properties of, and describe the results of, translations, rotations and reflections applied to given figures
- identify and construct congruent triangles, and construct similar shapes by enlargement, with and without coordinate grids
- apply the properties of angles at a point, angles at a point on a straight line, vertically opposite angles
- understand and use the relationship between parallel lines and alternate and corresponding angles
- derive and use the sum of angles in a triangle and use it to deduce the angle sum in any polygon, and to derive properties of regular polygons
- apply angle facts, triangle congruence, similarity and properties of quadrilaterals to derive results about angles and sides, including Pythagoras’ Theorem, and use known results to obtain simple proofs
- use Pythagoras’ Theorem and trigonometric ratios in similar triangles to solve problems involving right-angled triangles
- use the properties of faces, surfaces, edges and vertices of cubes, cuboids, prisms, cylinders, pyramids, cones and spheres to solve problems in 3-D
- interpret mathematical relationships both algebraically and geometrically

## Probability

- record, describe and analyse the frequency of outcomes of simple probability experiments involving randomness, fairness, equally and unequally likely outcomes, using appropriate language and the 0-1 probability scale
- understand that the probabilities of all possible outcomes sum to 1
- enumerate sets and unions/intersections of sets systematically, using tables, grids and Venn diagrams
- generate theoretical sample spaces for single and combined events with equally likely, mutually exclusive outcomes and use these to calculate theoretical probabilities
- describe, interpret and compare observed distributions of a single variable through: appropriate graphical representation involving discrete, continuous and grouped data; and appropriate measures of central tendency (mean, mode, median) and spread (range, consideration of outliers)
- construct and interpret appropriate tables, charts, and diagrams, including frequency tables, bar charts, pie charts, and pictograms for categorical data, and vertical line (or bar) charts for ungrouped and grouped numerical data
- describe simple mathematical relationships between 2 variables (bivariate data) in observational and experimental contexts and illustrate using scatter graphs

## Key stage 4

This programme of study specifies:

- the mathematical content that should be taught to all pupils, in standard type
- additional mathematical content to be taught to more highly attaining pupils, in braces { }

Together, the mathematical content set out in the key stage 3 and key stage 4 programmes of study covers the full range of material contained in the GCSE Mathematics qualification. Wherever it is appropriate, given pupils’ security of understanding and readiness to progress, pupils should be taught the full content set out in this programme of study.

Through the mathematics content pupils should be taught to:

- consolidate their numerical and mathematical capability from key stage 3 and extend their understanding of the number system to include powers, roots {and fractional indices}
- select and use appropriate calculation strategies to solve increasingly complex problems, including exact calculations involving multiples of π {and surds}, use of standard form and application and interpretation of limits of accuracy
- consolidate their algebraic capability from key stage 3 and extend their understanding of algebraic simplification and manipulation to include quadratic expressions, {and expressions involving surds and algebraic fractions}
- extend fluency with expressions and equations from key stage 3, to include quadratic equations, simultaneous equations and inequalities
- move freely between different numerical, algebraic, graphical and diagrammatic representations, including of linear, quadratic, reciprocal, {exponential and trigonometric} functions
- use mathematical language and properties precisely
- extend and formalise their knowledge of ratio and proportion, including trigonometric ratios, in working with measures and geometry, and in working with proportional relations algebraically and graphically
- extend their ability to identify variables and express relations between variables algebraically and graphically
- make and test conjectures about the generalisations that underlie patterns and relationships; look for proofs or counter-examples; begin to use algebra to support and construct arguments {and proofs}
- reason deductively in geometry, number and algebra, including using geometrical constructions
- explore what can and cannot be inferred in statistical and probabilistic settings, and express their arguments formally
- assess the validity of an argument and the accuracy of a given way of presenting information
- develop their use of formal mathematical knowledge to interpret and solve problems, including in financial contexts
- make and use connections between different parts of mathematics to solve problems
- model situations mathematically and express the results using a range of formal mathematical representations, reflecting on how their solutions may have been affected by any modelling assumptions
- select appropriate concepts, methods and techniques to apply to unfamiliar and non-routine problems; interpret their solution in the context of the given problem

In addition to consolidating subject content from key stage 3, pupils should be taught to:

- apply systematic listing strategies, {including use of the product rule for counting}
- {estimate powers and roots of any given positive number}
- calculate with roots, and with integer {and fractional} indices
- calculate exactly with fractions, {surds} and multiples of π {simplify surd expressions involving squares [for example √12 = √(4 × 3) = √4 × √3 = 2√3] and rationalise denominators}
- calculate with numbers in standard form A × 10n, where 1 ≤ A < 10 and n is an integer
- {change recurring decimals into their corresponding fractions and vice versa}
- identify and work with fractions in ratio problems
- apply and interpret limits of accuracy when rounding or truncating, {including upper and lower bounds}
- factorising quadratic expressions of the form x 2 + bx + c, including the difference of 2 squares; {factorising quadratic expressions of the form ax 2 + bx + c}
- simplifying expressions involving sums, products and powers, including the laws of indices
- know the difference between an equation and an identity; argue mathematically to show algebraic expressions are equivalent, and use algebra to support and construct arguments {and proofs}
- where appropriate, interpret simple expressions as functions with inputs and outputs; {interpret the reverse process as the ‘inverse function’; interpret the succession of 2 functions as a ‘composite function’}
- use the form y = mx + c to identify parallel {and perpendicular} lines; find the equation of the line through 2 given points, or through 1 point with a given gradient
- identify and interpret roots, intercepts and turning points of quadratic functions graphically; deduce roots algebraically {and turning points by completing the square}

- {sketch translations and reflections of the graph of a given function}
- plot and interpret graphs (including reciprocal graphs {and exponential graphs}) and graphs of non-standard functions in real contexts, to find approximate solutions to problems such as simple kinematic problems involving distance, speed and acceleration
- {calculate or estimate gradients of graphs and areas under graphs (including quadratic and other non-linear graphs), and interpret results in cases such as distance-time graphs, velocity-time graphs and graphs in financial contexts}
- {recognise and use the equation of a circle with centre at the origin; find the equation of a tangent to a circle at a given point}
- solve quadratic equations {including those that require rearrangement} algebraically by factorising, {by completing the square and by using the quadratic formula}; find approximate solutions using a graph
- solve 2 simultaneous equations in 2 variables (linear/linear {or linear/quadratic}) algebraically; find approximate solutions using a graph
- {find approximate solutions to equations numerically using iteration}
- translate simple situations or procedures into algebraic expressions or formulae; derive an equation (or 2 simultaneous equations), solve the equation(s) and interpret the solution
- solve linear inequalities in 1 {or 2} variable {s}, {and quadratic inequalities in 1 variable}; represent the solution set on a number line, {using set notation and on a graph}
- recognise and use sequences of triangular, square and cube numbers, simple arithmetic progressions, Fibonacci type sequences, quadratic sequences, and simple geometric progressions (r n where n is an integer, and r is a positive rational number {or a surd}) {and other sequences}
- deduce expressions to calculate the nth term of linear {and quadratic} sequences.
- compare lengths, areas and volumes using ratio notation and/or scale factors; make links to similarity (including trigonometric ratios)
- convert between related compound units (speed, rates of pay, prices, density, pressure) in numerical and algebraic contexts

- interpret the gradient of a straight line graph as a rate of change; recognise and interpret graphs that illustrate direct and inverse proportion
- {interpret the gradient at a point on a curve as the instantaneous rate of change; apply the concepts of instantaneous and average rate of change (gradients of tangents and chords) in numerical, algebraic and graphical contexts}
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- interpret and use fractional {and negative} scale factors for enlargements
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- identify and apply circle definitions and properties, including: centre, radius, chord, diameter, circumference, tangent, arc, sector and segment
- {apply and prove the standard circle theorems concerning angles, radii, tangents and chords, and use them to prove related results}
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- describe translations as 2D vectors
- apply addition and subtraction of vectors, multiplication of vectors by a scalar, and diagrammatic and column representations of vectors; {use vectors to construct geometric arguments and proofs}
- apply the property that the probabilities of an exhaustive set of mutually exclusive events sum to 1
- use a probability model to predict the outcomes of future experiments; understand that empirical unbiased samples tend towards theoretical probability distributions, with increasing sample size
- calculate the probability of independent and dependent combined events, including using tree diagrams and other representations, and know the underlying assumptions
- {calculate and interpret conditional probabilities through representation using expected frequencies with two-way tables, tree diagrams and Venn diagrams}
- infer properties of populations or distributions from a sample, whilst knowing the limitations of sampling
- interpret and construct tables and line graphs for time series data
- {construct and interpret diagrams for grouped discrete data and continuous data, ie, histograms with equal and unequal class intervals and cumulative frequency graphs, and know their appropriate use}
- appropriate graphical representation involving discrete, continuous and grouped data, {including box plots}
- appropriate measures of central tendency (including modal class) and spread {including quartiles and inter-quartile range}
- apply statistics to describe a population
- use and interpret scatter graphs of bivariate data; recognise correlation and know that it does not indicate causation; draw estimated lines of best fit; make predictions; interpolate and extrapolate apparent trends whilst knowing the dangers of so doing.

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## Fluency, Reasoning and Problem Solving: What This Looks Like In Every Maths Lesson

Neil Almond

Fluency reasoning and problem solving have been central to the new maths national curriculum for primary schools introduced in 2014. Here we look at how these three approaches or elements of maths can be interwoven in a child’s maths education through KS1 and KS2. We look at what fluency, reasoning and problem solving are, how to teach them, and how to know how a child is progressing in each – as well as what to do when they’re not, and what to avoid.

The hope is that this blog will help primary school teachers think carefully about their practice and the pedagogical choices they make around the teaching of reasoning and problem solving in particular.

Before we can think about what this would look like in practice however, we need to understand the background tothese terms.

## What is fluency in maths?

Fluency in maths is a fairly broad concept. The basics of mathematical fluency – as defined by the KS1 / KS2 National Curriculum for maths – involve knowing key mathematical facts and being able to recall them quickly and accurately.

But true fluency in maths (at least up to Key Stage 2) means being able to apply the same skill to multiple contexts, and being able to choose the most appropriate method for a particular task.

Fluency in maths lessons means we teach the content using a range of representations, to ensure that all pupils understand and have sufficient time to practise what is taught.

Read more: How the best schools develop maths fluency at KS2 .

## What is reasoning in maths?

Reasoning in maths is the process of applying logical thinking to a situation to derive the correct problem solving strategy for a given question, and using this method to develop and describe a solution.

Put more simply, mathematical reasoning is the bridge between fluency and problem solving. It allows pupils to use the former to accurately carry out the latter.

Read more: Developing maths reasoning at KS2: the mathematical skills required and how to teach them .

## What is problem solving in maths?

It’s sometimes easier to start off with what problem solving is not. Problem solving is not necessarily just about answering word problems in maths. If a child already has a readily available method to solve this sort of problem, problem solving has not occurred. Problem solving in maths is finding a way to apply knowledge and skills you have to answer unfamiliar types of problems.

Read more: Maths problem solving: strategies and resources for primary school teachers .

## We are all problem solvers

First off, problem solving should not be seen as something that some pupils can do and some cannot. Every single person is born with an innate level of problem-solving ability.

Early on as a species on this planet, we solved problems like recognising faces we know, protecting ourselves against other species, and as babies the problem of getting food (by crying relentlessly until we were fed).

All these scenarios are a form of what the evolutionary psychologist David Geary (1995) calls biologically primary knowledge. We have been solving these problems for millennia and they are so ingrained in our DNA that we learn them without any specific instruction.

Why then, if we have this innate ability, does actually teaching problem solving seem so hard?

## Mathematical problem solving is a learned skill

As you might have guessed, the domain of mathematics is far from innate. Maths doesn’t just happen to us; we need to learn it. It needs to be passed down from experts that have the knowledge to novices who do not.

This is what Geary calls biologically secondary knowledge. Solving problems (within the domain of maths) is a mixture of both primary and secondary knowledge.

The issue is that problem solving in domains that are classified as biologically secondary knowledge (like maths) can only be improved by practising elements of that domain.

So there is no generic problem-solving skill that can be taught in isolation and transferred to other areas.

This will have important ramifications for pedagogical choices, which I will go into more detail about later on in this blog.

The educationalist Dylan Wiliam had this to say on the matter: ‘for…problem solving, the idea that pupils can learn these skills in one context and apply them in another is essentially wrong.’ (Wiliam, 2018)So what is the best method of teaching problem solving to primary maths pupils?

The answer is that we teach them plenty of domain specific biological secondary knowledge – in this case maths. Our ability to successfully problem solve requires us to have a deep understanding of content and fluency of facts and mathematical procedures.

Here is what cognitive psychologist Daniel Willingham (2010) has to say:

‘Data from the last thirty years lead to a conclusion that is not scientifically challengeable: thinking well requires knowing facts, and that’s true not simply because you need something to think about.

The very processes that teachers care about most—critical thinking processes such as reasoning and problem solving—are intimately intertwined with factual knowledge that is stored in long-term memory (not just found in the environment).’

Colin Foster (2019), a reader in Mathematics Education in the Mathematics Education Centre at Loughborough University, says, ‘I think of fluency and mathematical reasoning, not as ends in themselves, but as means to support pupils in the most important goal of all: solving problems.’

In that paper he produces this pyramid:

This is important for two reasons:

1) It splits up reasoning skills and problem solving into two different entities

2) It demonstrates that fluency is not something to be rushed through to get to the ‘problem solving’ stage but is rather the foundation of problem solving.

In my own work I adapt this model and turn it into a cone shape, as education seems to have a problem with pyramids and gross misinterpretation of them (think Bloom’s taxonomy).

Notice how we need plenty of fluency of facts, concepts, procedures and mathematical language.

Having this fluency will help with improving logical reasoning skills, which will then lend themselves to solving mathematical problems – but only if it is truly learnt and there is systematic retrieval of this information carefully planned across the curriculum.

## Performance vs learning: what to avoid when teaching fluency, reasoning, and problem solving

I mean to make no sweeping generalisation here; this was my experience both at university when training and from working in schools.

At some point schools become obsessed with the ridiculous notion of ‘accelerated progress’. I have heard it used in all manner of educational contexts while training and being a teacher. ‘You will need to show ‘ accelerated progress in maths ’ in this lesson,’ ‘Ofsted will be looking for ‘accelerated progress’ etc.

I have no doubt that all of this came from a good place and from those wanting the best possible outcomes – but it is misguided.

I remember being told that we needed to get pupils onto the problem solving questions as soon as possible to demonstrate this mystical ‘accelerated progress’.

This makes sense; you have a group of pupils and you have taken them from not knowing something to working out pretty sophisticated 2-step or multi-step word problems within an hour. How is that not ‘accelerated progress?’

This was a frequent feature of my lessons up until last academic year: teach a mathematical procedure; get the pupils to do about 10 of them in their books; mark these and if the majority were correct, model some reasoning/problem solving questions from the same content as the fluency content; set the pupils some reasoning and word problem questions and that was it.

I wondered if I was the only one who had been taught this while at university so I did a quick poll on Twitter and found that was not the case.

I know these numbers won’t be big enough for a representative sample but it still shows that others are familiar with this approach.

The issue with the lesson framework I mentioned above is that it does not take into account ‘performance vs learning.’

## What IS performance vs learning’?

The premise is that performance in a lesson is not a good proxy for learning.

Yes, those pupils were performing well after I had modeled a mathematical procedure for them, and managed to get questions correct.

But if problem solving depends on a deep knowledge of mathematics, this approach to lesson structure is going to be very ineffective.

As mentioned earlier, the reasoning and problem solving questions were based on the same maths content as the fluency exercises, making it more likely that pupils would solve problems correctly whether they fully understood them or not.

Chances are that all they’d need to do is find the numbers in the questions and use the same method they used in the fluency section to get their answers – not exactly high level problem solving skills.

## Teaching to “cover the curriculum” hinders development of strong problem solving skills.

This is one of my worries with ‘maths mastery schemes’ that block content so that, in some circumstances, it is not looked at again until the following year (and with new objectives).

The pressure for teachers to ‘get through the curriculum’ results in many opportunities to revisit content just not happening in the classroom.

Pupils are unintentionally forced to skip ahead in the fluency, reasoning, problem solving chain without proper consolidation of the earlier processes.

As David Didau (2019) puts it, ‘When novices face a problem for which they do not have a conveniently stored solution, they have to rely on the costlier means-end analysis.

This is likely to lead to cognitive overload because it involves trying to work through and hold in mind multiple possible solutions.

It’s a bit like trying to juggle five objects at once without previous practice. Solving problems is an inefficient way to get better at problem solving.’

Third Space's Ultimate Guide to Problem Solving Techniques

Download our free guide to problem solving techniques and get a head start on ensuring learning over performance!

## Fluency and reasoning – Best practice in a lesson, a unit, and a term

By now I hope you have realised that when it comes to problem solving, fluency is king. As such we should look to mastery maths based teaching to ensure that the fluency that pupils need is there.

The answer to what fluency looks like will obviously depend on many factors, including the content being taught and the year group you find yourself teaching.

But we should not consider rushing them on to problem solving or logical reasoning in the early stages of this new content as it has not been learnt, only performed.

I would say that in the early stages of learning, content that requires the end goal of being fluent should take up the majority of lesson time – approximately 60%. The rest of the time should be spent rehearsing and retrieving other knowledge that is at risk of being forgotten about.

This blog on mental maths strategies pupils should learn in each year group is a good place to start when thinking about the core aspects of fluency that pupils should achieve.

Little and often is a good mantra when we think about fluency, particularly when revisiting the key mathematical skills of number bond fluency or multiplication fluency. So when it comes to what fluency could look like throughout the day, consider all the opportunities to get pupils practicing.

They could chant multiplications when transitioning. If a lesson in another subject has finished earlier than expected, use that time to quiz pupils on number bonds. Have fluency exercises as part of the morning work.

Read more: How to teach times tables KS1 and KS2 for total recall .

## What about best practice over a longer period?

Thinking about what fluency could look like across a unit of work would again depend on the unit itself.

Look at this unit below from a popular scheme of work.

They recommend 20 days to cover 9 objectives. One of these specifically mentions problem solving so I will forget about that one at the moment – so that gives 8 objectives.

I would recommend that the fluency of this unit look something like this:

LY = Last Year

This type of structure is heavily borrowed from Mark McCourt’s phased learning idea from his book ‘Teaching for Mastery.’

This should not be seen as something set in stone; it would greatly depend on the needs of the class in front of you. But it gives an idea of what fluency could look like across a unit of lessons – though not necessarily all maths lessons.

When we think about a term, we can draw on similar ideas to the one above except that your lessons could also pull on content from previous units from that term.

So lesson one may focus 60% on the new unit and 40% on what was learnt in the previous unit.

The structure could then follow a similar pattern to the one above.

## Best practice for problem solving in a lesson, a unit, and a term

When an adult first learns something new, we cannot solve a problem with it straight away. We need to become familiar with the idea and practise before we can make connections, reason and problem solve with it.

The same is true for pupils. Indeed, it could take up to two years ‘between the mathematics a student can use in imitative exercises and that they have sufficiently absorbed and connected to use autonomously in non-routine problem solving.’ (Burkhardt, 2017).

## Practise with facts that are secure

So when we plan for reasoning and problem solving, we need to be looking at content from 2 years ago to base these questions on.

Now given that much of the content of the KS2 SATs will come from years 5 and 6 it can be hard to stick to this two-year idea as pupils will need to solve problems with content that can be only weeks old to them.

But certainly in other year groups, the argument could be made that content should come from previous years.

You could get pupils in Year 4 to solve complicated place value problems with the numbers they should know from Year 2 or 3. This would lessen the cognitive load, freeing up valuable working memory so they can actually focus on solving the problems using content they are familiar with.

## Read more: Cognitive load theory in the classroom

Increase complexity gradually.

Once they practise solving these types of problems, they can draw on this knowledge later when solving problems with more difficult numbers.

This is what Mark McCourt calls the ‘Behave’ phase. In his book he writes:

‘Many teachers find it an uncomfortable – perhaps even illogical – process to plan the ‘Behave’ phase as one that relates to much earlier learning rather than the new idea, but it is crucial to do so if we want to bring about optimal gains in learning, understanding and long term recall.’ (Mark McCourt, 2019)

This just shows the fallacy of ‘accelerated progress’; in the space of 20 minutes some teachers are taught to move pupils from fluency through to non-routine problem solving, or we are somehow not catering to the needs of the child.

When considering what problem solving lessons could look like, here’s an example structure based on the objectives above.

## Fluency, Reasoning and Problem Solving should NOT be taught by rote

It is important to reiterate that this is not something that should be set in stone. Key to getting the most out of this teaching for mastery approach is ensuring your pupils (across abilities) are interested and engaged in their work.

Depending on the previous attainment and abilities of the children in your class, you may find that a few have come across some of the mathematical ideas you have been teaching, and so they are able to problem solve effectively with these ideas.

Equally likely is encountering pupils on the opposite side of the spectrum, who may not have fully grasped the concept of place value and will need to go further back than 2 years and solve even simpler problems.

In order to have the greatest impact on class performance, you will have to account for these varying experiences in your lessons.

## Read more:

- Maths Mastery Toolkit : A Practical Guide To Mastery Teaching And Learning
- Year 6 Maths Reasoning Questions and Answers
- Get to Grips with Maths Problem Solving KS2
- Mixed Ability Teaching for Mastery: Classroom How To
- 21 Maths Challenges To Really Stretch Your More Able Pupils
- Maths Reasoning and Problem Solving CPD Powerpoint
- Why You Should Be Incorporating Stem Sentences Into Your Primary Maths Teaching

## DO YOU HAVE STUDENTS WHO NEED MORE SUPPORT IN MATHS?

Every week Third Space Learning’s specialist online maths tutors support thousands of students across hundreds of schools with weekly online 1 to 1 maths lessons designed to plug gaps and boost progress.

Since 2013 these personalised one to 1 lessons have helped over 150,000 primary and secondary students become more confident, able mathematicians.

Learn how the programmes are aligned to maths mastery teaching or request a personalised quote for your school to speak to us about your school’s needs and how we can help.

## Related articles

Maths Problem Solving: Engaging Your Students And Strengthening Their Mathematical Skills

Free Year 7 Maths Test With Answers And Mark Scheme: Mixed Topic Questions

What Is A Number Square? Explained For Primary School Teachers, Parents & Pupils

What Is Numicon? Explained For Primary School Teachers, Parents And Pupils

## FREE Guide to Maths Mastery

All you need to know to successfully implement a mastery approach to mathematics in your primary school, at whatever stage of your journey.

Ideal for running staff meetings on mastery or sense checking your own approach to mastery.

## Privacy Overview

## NRICH launches new Problem-Solving Schools initiative

Our NRICH programme has launched a new initiative to help schools prioritise problem-solving in maths. The NRICH Problem-Solving Schools programme will offer free resources, advice and teacher professional development training.

Problem-solving is a critical skill when it comes to empowering students for the future. It opens up a world of possibilities as students have to apply their knowledge, think laterally and use their creativity to solve challenges. Problem-solving is also a crucial part of helping students to discover the joy of mathematics. "Imagine only engaging with football through practice drills and never seeing Messi score, or learning music through scales and never hearing an orchestra play," say the NRICH team.

For over 25 years NRICH has been at the forefront of developing mathematical problem-solving resources, reaching millions of users each year through the free NRICH website. The Problem-Solving Schools programme builds on this expertise and experience in supporting schools, teachers and students to help schools embed problem-solving in the curriculum.

Along with fluency and reasoning, problem-solving is central to the National Curriculum for maths, and the launch of NRICH's Problem-Solving Schools programme offers timely additional support for schools. A new report published by Ofsted in July 2023 encourages schools to focus more consistently on teaching problem-solving, and ensure that all students have opportunities to practise applying their knowledge in a range of problem-solving contexts.

To find out more about the programme, and how to register your school, see the NRICH Problem-Solving Schools information.

You can read more about the Problem-Solving Schools initiative in this University of Cambridge news story .

© 2023 University of Cambridge Privacy notice

## Video material to support the implementation of the National Curriculum

Introduction.

This collection of 60 short videos, filmed in a range of school classrooms in 2012 and 2013, shows teaching, and learning, in line with the three overall aims of the new National Curriculum. These aims are that pupils should develop fluency, reason mathematically and be able to solve problems. Research by the Department for Education demonstrates that a key feature of mathematics lessons in high performing jurisdictions is that the development of quick recall, accuracy and fluency in parallel with the development of understanding and reasoning are all required to promote sound mathematical development (See p 70 of the DfE document listed below).

The first video, immediately below, gives a ten-minute overview of the whole library of clips, and their relevance to the new curriculum. Individual videos can be accessed via the buttons further below or the links on the right of this page.

You can also find the videos on our YouTube channel - and you may find it useful to download them to your own device, using the links given beneath each video.

If you encounter any problems with the videos, please contact us .

## Multiplication

Lesson videos on elements of progression in multiplication across the primary school

## Subtraction

Lesson videos on elements of progression in subtraction in Key Stage 2

## Number Facts

Lesson videos on number facts for all four operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division

## Number and Place Value

Lesson videos on children developing understanding and fluency with number

Lesson videos on structures of division in terms of grouping and sharing at Key Stage 1; moving into a written algorithm at Key Stage 2 and demonstration of fluency at Key Stage 3

Lesson videos addressing the ability to develop a secure understanding and calculate with fractions

Lesson videos addressing the demands of the New Curriculum to introduce formal algebra into KS2

## Multiplicative Reasoning

Lesson videos on representations in terms of the bar model and double number line are used to support reasoning and problem solving

- Bolingbroke Academy London
- Earlsfield Primary School London
- Kibworth Primary School Leicestershire
- Oldway Primary School Devon
- Parklands Primary School Leicestershire
- Springfield Community Primary School London
- St Marylebone School London
- Woodberry Down Primary School London

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- Published: 11 January 2023

## The effectiveness of collaborative problem solving in promoting students’ critical thinking: A meta-analysis based on empirical literature

- Enwei Xu ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0001-6424-8169 1 ,
- Wei Wang 1 &
- Qingxia Wang 1

Humanities and Social Sciences Communications volume 10 , Article number: 16 ( 2023 ) Cite this article

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Collaborative problem-solving has been widely embraced in the classroom instruction of critical thinking, which is regarded as the core of curriculum reform based on key competencies in the field of education as well as a key competence for learners in the 21st century. However, the effectiveness of collaborative problem-solving in promoting students’ critical thinking remains uncertain. This current research presents the major findings of a meta-analysis of 36 pieces of the literature revealed in worldwide educational periodicals during the 21st century to identify the effectiveness of collaborative problem-solving in promoting students’ critical thinking and to determine, based on evidence, whether and to what extent collaborative problem solving can result in a rise or decrease in critical thinking. The findings show that (1) collaborative problem solving is an effective teaching approach to foster students’ critical thinking, with a significant overall effect size (ES = 0.82, z = 12.78, P < 0.01, 95% CI [0.69, 0.95]); (2) in respect to the dimensions of critical thinking, collaborative problem solving can significantly and successfully enhance students’ attitudinal tendencies (ES = 1.17, z = 7.62, P < 0.01, 95% CI[0.87, 1.47]); nevertheless, it falls short in terms of improving students’ cognitive skills, having only an upper-middle impact (ES = 0.70, z = 11.55, P < 0.01, 95% CI[0.58, 0.82]); and (3) the teaching type (chi 2 = 7.20, P < 0.05), intervention duration (chi 2 = 12.18, P < 0.01), subject area (chi 2 = 13.36, P < 0.05), group size (chi 2 = 8.77, P < 0.05), and learning scaffold (chi 2 = 9.03, P < 0.01) all have an impact on critical thinking, and they can be viewed as important moderating factors that affect how critical thinking develops. On the basis of these results, recommendations are made for further study and instruction to better support students’ critical thinking in the context of collaborative problem-solving.

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Introduction.

Although critical thinking has a long history in research, the concept of critical thinking, which is regarded as an essential competence for learners in the 21st century, has recently attracted more attention from researchers and teaching practitioners (National Research Council, 2012 ). Critical thinking should be the core of curriculum reform based on key competencies in the field of education (Peng and Deng, 2017 ) because students with critical thinking can not only understand the meaning of knowledge but also effectively solve practical problems in real life even after knowledge is forgotten (Kek and Huijser, 2011 ). The definition of critical thinking is not universal (Ennis, 1989 ; Castle, 2009 ; Niu et al., 2013 ). In general, the definition of critical thinking is a self-aware and self-regulated thought process (Facione, 1990 ; Niu et al., 2013 ). It refers to the cognitive skills needed to interpret, analyze, synthesize, reason, and evaluate information as well as the attitudinal tendency to apply these abilities (Halpern, 2001 ). The view that critical thinking can be taught and learned through curriculum teaching has been widely supported by many researchers (e.g., Kuncel, 2011 ; Leng and Lu, 2020 ), leading to educators’ efforts to foster it among students. In the field of teaching practice, there are three types of courses for teaching critical thinking (Ennis, 1989 ). The first is an independent curriculum in which critical thinking is taught and cultivated without involving the knowledge of specific disciplines; the second is an integrated curriculum in which critical thinking is integrated into the teaching of other disciplines as a clear teaching goal; and the third is a mixed curriculum in which critical thinking is taught in parallel to the teaching of other disciplines for mixed teaching training. Furthermore, numerous measuring tools have been developed by researchers and educators to measure critical thinking in the context of teaching practice. These include standardized measurement tools, such as WGCTA, CCTST, CCTT, and CCTDI, which have been verified by repeated experiments and are considered effective and reliable by international scholars (Facione and Facione, 1992 ). In short, descriptions of critical thinking, including its two dimensions of attitudinal tendency and cognitive skills, different types of teaching courses, and standardized measurement tools provide a complex normative framework for understanding, teaching, and evaluating critical thinking.

Cultivating critical thinking in curriculum teaching can start with a problem, and one of the most popular critical thinking instructional approaches is problem-based learning (Liu et al., 2020 ). Duch et al. ( 2001 ) noted that problem-based learning in group collaboration is progressive active learning, which can improve students’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Collaborative problem-solving is the organic integration of collaborative learning and problem-based learning, which takes learners as the center of the learning process and uses problems with poor structure in real-world situations as the starting point for the learning process (Liang et al., 2017 ). Students learn the knowledge needed to solve problems in a collaborative group, reach a consensus on problems in the field, and form solutions through social cooperation methods, such as dialogue, interpretation, questioning, debate, negotiation, and reflection, thus promoting the development of learners’ domain knowledge and critical thinking (Cindy, 2004 ; Liang et al., 2017 ).

Collaborative problem-solving has been widely used in the teaching practice of critical thinking, and several studies have attempted to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of the empirical literature on critical thinking from various perspectives. However, little attention has been paid to the impact of collaborative problem-solving on critical thinking. Therefore, the best approach for developing and enhancing critical thinking throughout collaborative problem-solving is to examine how to implement critical thinking instruction; however, this issue is still unexplored, which means that many teachers are incapable of better instructing critical thinking (Leng and Lu, 2020 ; Niu et al., 2013 ). For example, Huber ( 2016 ) provided the meta-analysis findings of 71 publications on gaining critical thinking over various time frames in college with the aim of determining whether critical thinking was truly teachable. These authors found that learners significantly improve their critical thinking while in college and that critical thinking differs with factors such as teaching strategies, intervention duration, subject area, and teaching type. The usefulness of collaborative problem-solving in fostering students’ critical thinking, however, was not determined by this study, nor did it reveal whether there existed significant variations among the different elements. A meta-analysis of 31 pieces of educational literature was conducted by Liu et al. ( 2020 ) to assess the impact of problem-solving on college students’ critical thinking. These authors found that problem-solving could promote the development of critical thinking among college students and proposed establishing a reasonable group structure for problem-solving in a follow-up study to improve students’ critical thinking. Additionally, previous empirical studies have reached inconclusive and even contradictory conclusions about whether and to what extent collaborative problem-solving increases or decreases critical thinking levels. As an illustration, Yang et al. ( 2008 ) carried out an experiment on the integrated curriculum teaching of college students based on a web bulletin board with the goal of fostering participants’ critical thinking in the context of collaborative problem-solving. These authors’ research revealed that through sharing, debating, examining, and reflecting on various experiences and ideas, collaborative problem-solving can considerably enhance students’ critical thinking in real-life problem situations. In contrast, collaborative problem-solving had a positive impact on learners’ interaction and could improve learning interest and motivation but could not significantly improve students’ critical thinking when compared to traditional classroom teaching, according to research by Naber and Wyatt ( 2014 ) and Sendag and Odabasi ( 2009 ) on undergraduate and high school students, respectively.

The above studies show that there is inconsistency regarding the effectiveness of collaborative problem-solving in promoting students’ critical thinking. Therefore, it is essential to conduct a thorough and trustworthy review to detect and decide whether and to what degree collaborative problem-solving can result in a rise or decrease in critical thinking. Meta-analysis is a quantitative analysis approach that is utilized to examine quantitative data from various separate studies that are all focused on the same research topic. This approach characterizes the effectiveness of its impact by averaging the effect sizes of numerous qualitative studies in an effort to reduce the uncertainty brought on by independent research and produce more conclusive findings (Lipsey and Wilson, 2001 ).

This paper used a meta-analytic approach and carried out a meta-analysis to examine the effectiveness of collaborative problem-solving in promoting students’ critical thinking in order to make a contribution to both research and practice. The following research questions were addressed by this meta-analysis:

What is the overall effect size of collaborative problem-solving in promoting students’ critical thinking and its impact on the two dimensions of critical thinking (i.e., attitudinal tendency and cognitive skills)?

How are the disparities between the study conclusions impacted by various moderating variables if the impacts of various experimental designs in the included studies are heterogeneous?

This research followed the strict procedures (e.g., database searching, identification, screening, eligibility, merging, duplicate removal, and analysis of included studies) of Cooper’s ( 2010 ) proposed meta-analysis approach for examining quantitative data from various separate studies that are all focused on the same research topic. The relevant empirical research that appeared in worldwide educational periodicals within the 21st century was subjected to this meta-analysis using Rev-Man 5.4. The consistency of the data extracted separately by two researchers was tested using Cohen’s kappa coefficient, and a publication bias test and a heterogeneity test were run on the sample data to ascertain the quality of this meta-analysis.

## Data sources and search strategies

There were three stages to the data collection process for this meta-analysis, as shown in Fig. 1 , which shows the number of articles included and eliminated during the selection process based on the statement and study eligibility criteria.

This flowchart shows the number of records identified, included and excluded in the article.

First, the databases used to systematically search for relevant articles were the journal papers of the Web of Science Core Collection and the Chinese Core source journal, as well as the Chinese Social Science Citation Index (CSSCI) source journal papers included in CNKI. These databases were selected because they are credible platforms that are sources of scholarly and peer-reviewed information with advanced search tools and contain literature relevant to the subject of our topic from reliable researchers and experts. The search string with the Boolean operator used in the Web of Science was “TS = (((“critical thinking” or “ct” and “pretest” or “posttest”) or (“critical thinking” or “ct” and “control group” or “quasi experiment” or “experiment”)) and (“collaboration” or “collaborative learning” or “CSCL”) and (“problem solving” or “problem-based learning” or “PBL”))”. The research area was “Education Educational Research”, and the search period was “January 1, 2000, to December 30, 2021”. A total of 412 papers were obtained. The search string with the Boolean operator used in the CNKI was “SU = (‘critical thinking’*‘collaboration’ + ‘critical thinking’*‘collaborative learning’ + ‘critical thinking’*‘CSCL’ + ‘critical thinking’*‘problem solving’ + ‘critical thinking’*‘problem-based learning’ + ‘critical thinking’*‘PBL’ + ‘critical thinking’*‘problem oriented’) AND FT = (‘experiment’ + ‘quasi experiment’ + ‘pretest’ + ‘posttest’ + ‘empirical study’)” (translated into Chinese when searching). A total of 56 studies were found throughout the search period of “January 2000 to December 2021”. From the databases, all duplicates and retractions were eliminated before exporting the references into Endnote, a program for managing bibliographic references. In all, 466 studies were found.

Second, the studies that matched the inclusion and exclusion criteria for the meta-analysis were chosen by two researchers after they had reviewed the abstracts and titles of the gathered articles, yielding a total of 126 studies.

Third, two researchers thoroughly reviewed each included article’s whole text in accordance with the inclusion and exclusion criteria. Meanwhile, a snowball search was performed using the references and citations of the included articles to ensure complete coverage of the articles. Ultimately, 36 articles were kept.

Two researchers worked together to carry out this entire process, and a consensus rate of almost 94.7% was reached after discussion and negotiation to clarify any emerging differences.

## Eligibility criteria

Since not all the retrieved studies matched the criteria for this meta-analysis, eligibility criteria for both inclusion and exclusion were developed as follows:

The publication language of the included studies was limited to English and Chinese, and the full text could be obtained. Articles that did not meet the publication language and articles not published between 2000 and 2021 were excluded.

The research design of the included studies must be empirical and quantitative studies that can assess the effect of collaborative problem-solving on the development of critical thinking. Articles that could not identify the causal mechanisms by which collaborative problem-solving affects critical thinking, such as review articles and theoretical articles, were excluded.

The research method of the included studies must feature a randomized control experiment or a quasi-experiment, or a natural experiment, which have a higher degree of internal validity with strong experimental designs and can all plausibly provide evidence that critical thinking and collaborative problem-solving are causally related. Articles with non-experimental research methods, such as purely correlational or observational studies, were excluded.

The participants of the included studies were only students in school, including K-12 students and college students. Articles in which the participants were non-school students, such as social workers or adult learners, were excluded.

The research results of the included studies must mention definite signs that may be utilized to gauge critical thinking’s impact (e.g., sample size, mean value, or standard deviation). Articles that lacked specific measurement indicators for critical thinking and could not calculate the effect size were excluded.

## Data coding design

In order to perform a meta-analysis, it is necessary to collect the most important information from the articles, codify that information’s properties, and convert descriptive data into quantitative data. Therefore, this study designed a data coding template (see Table 1 ). Ultimately, 16 coding fields were retained.

The designed data-coding template consisted of three pieces of information. Basic information about the papers was included in the descriptive information: the publishing year, author, serial number, and title of the paper.

The variable information for the experimental design had three variables: the independent variable (instruction method), the dependent variable (critical thinking), and the moderating variable (learning stage, teaching type, intervention duration, learning scaffold, group size, measuring tool, and subject area). Depending on the topic of this study, the intervention strategy, as the independent variable, was coded into collaborative and non-collaborative problem-solving. The dependent variable, critical thinking, was coded as a cognitive skill and an attitudinal tendency. And seven moderating variables were created by grouping and combining the experimental design variables discovered within the 36 studies (see Table 1 ), where learning stages were encoded as higher education, high school, middle school, and primary school or lower; teaching types were encoded as mixed courses, integrated courses, and independent courses; intervention durations were encoded as 0–1 weeks, 1–4 weeks, 4–12 weeks, and more than 12 weeks; group sizes were encoded as 2–3 persons, 4–6 persons, 7–10 persons, and more than 10 persons; learning scaffolds were encoded as teacher-supported learning scaffold, technique-supported learning scaffold, and resource-supported learning scaffold; measuring tools were encoded as standardized measurement tools (e.g., WGCTA, CCTT, CCTST, and CCTDI) and self-adapting measurement tools (e.g., modified or made by researchers); and subject areas were encoded according to the specific subjects used in the 36 included studies.

The data information contained three metrics for measuring critical thinking: sample size, average value, and standard deviation. It is vital to remember that studies with various experimental designs frequently adopt various formulas to determine the effect size. And this paper used Morris’ proposed standardized mean difference (SMD) calculation formula ( 2008 , p. 369; see Supplementary Table S3 ).

## Procedure for extracting and coding data

According to the data coding template (see Table 1 ), the 36 papers’ information was retrieved by two researchers, who then entered them into Excel (see Supplementary Table S1 ). The results of each study were extracted separately in the data extraction procedure if an article contained numerous studies on critical thinking, or if a study assessed different critical thinking dimensions. For instance, Tiwari et al. ( 2010 ) used four time points, which were viewed as numerous different studies, to examine the outcomes of critical thinking, and Chen ( 2013 ) included the two outcome variables of attitudinal tendency and cognitive skills, which were regarded as two studies. After discussion and negotiation during data extraction, the two researchers’ consistency test coefficients were roughly 93.27%. Supplementary Table S2 details the key characteristics of the 36 included articles with 79 effect quantities, including descriptive information (e.g., the publishing year, author, serial number, and title of the paper), variable information (e.g., independent variables, dependent variables, and moderating variables), and data information (e.g., mean values, standard deviations, and sample size). Following that, testing for publication bias and heterogeneity was done on the sample data using the Rev-Man 5.4 software, and then the test results were used to conduct a meta-analysis.

## Publication bias test

When the sample of studies included in a meta-analysis does not accurately reflect the general status of research on the relevant subject, publication bias is said to be exhibited in this research. The reliability and accuracy of the meta-analysis may be impacted by publication bias. Due to this, the meta-analysis needs to check the sample data for publication bias (Stewart et al., 2006 ). A popular method to check for publication bias is the funnel plot; and it is unlikely that there will be publishing bias when the data are equally dispersed on either side of the average effect size and targeted within the higher region. The data are equally dispersed within the higher portion of the efficient zone, consistent with the funnel plot connected with this analysis (see Fig. 2 ), indicating that publication bias is unlikely in this situation.

This funnel plot shows the result of publication bias of 79 effect quantities across 36 studies.

## Heterogeneity test

To select the appropriate effect models for the meta-analysis, one might use the results of a heterogeneity test on the data effect sizes. In a meta-analysis, it is common practice to gauge the degree of data heterogeneity using the I 2 value, and I 2 ≥ 50% is typically understood to denote medium-high heterogeneity, which calls for the adoption of a random effect model; if not, a fixed effect model ought to be applied (Lipsey and Wilson, 2001 ). The findings of the heterogeneity test in this paper (see Table 2 ) revealed that I 2 was 86% and displayed significant heterogeneity ( P < 0.01). To ensure accuracy and reliability, the overall effect size ought to be calculated utilizing the random effect model.

## The analysis of the overall effect size

This meta-analysis utilized a random effect model to examine 79 effect quantities from 36 studies after eliminating heterogeneity. In accordance with Cohen’s criterion (Cohen, 1992 ), it is abundantly clear from the analysis results, which are shown in the forest plot of the overall effect (see Fig. 3 ), that the cumulative impact size of cooperative problem-solving is 0.82, which is statistically significant ( z = 12.78, P < 0.01, 95% CI [0.69, 0.95]), and can encourage learners to practice critical thinking.

This forest plot shows the analysis result of the overall effect size across 36 studies.

In addition, this study examined two distinct dimensions of critical thinking to better understand the precise contributions that collaborative problem-solving makes to the growth of critical thinking. The findings (see Table 3 ) indicate that collaborative problem-solving improves cognitive skills (ES = 0.70) and attitudinal tendency (ES = 1.17), with significant intergroup differences (chi 2 = 7.95, P < 0.01). Although collaborative problem-solving improves both dimensions of critical thinking, it is essential to point out that the improvements in students’ attitudinal tendency are much more pronounced and have a significant comprehensive effect (ES = 1.17, z = 7.62, P < 0.01, 95% CI [0.87, 1.47]), whereas gains in learners’ cognitive skill are slightly improved and are just above average. (ES = 0.70, z = 11.55, P < 0.01, 95% CI [0.58, 0.82]).

## The analysis of moderator effect size

The whole forest plot’s 79 effect quantities underwent a two-tailed test, which revealed significant heterogeneity ( I 2 = 86%, z = 12.78, P < 0.01), indicating differences between various effect sizes that may have been influenced by moderating factors other than sampling error. Therefore, exploring possible moderating factors that might produce considerable heterogeneity was done using subgroup analysis, such as the learning stage, learning scaffold, teaching type, group size, duration of the intervention, measuring tool, and the subject area included in the 36 experimental designs, in order to further explore the key factors that influence critical thinking. The findings (see Table 4 ) indicate that various moderating factors have advantageous effects on critical thinking. In this situation, the subject area (chi 2 = 13.36, P < 0.05), group size (chi 2 = 8.77, P < 0.05), intervention duration (chi 2 = 12.18, P < 0.01), learning scaffold (chi 2 = 9.03, P < 0.01), and teaching type (chi 2 = 7.20, P < 0.05) are all significant moderators that can be applied to support the cultivation of critical thinking. However, since the learning stage and the measuring tools did not significantly differ among intergroup (chi 2 = 3.15, P = 0.21 > 0.05, and chi 2 = 0.08, P = 0.78 > 0.05), we are unable to explain why these two factors are crucial in supporting the cultivation of critical thinking in the context of collaborative problem-solving. These are the precise outcomes, as follows:

Various learning stages influenced critical thinking positively, without significant intergroup differences (chi 2 = 3.15, P = 0.21 > 0.05). High school was first on the list of effect sizes (ES = 1.36, P < 0.01), then higher education (ES = 0.78, P < 0.01), and middle school (ES = 0.73, P < 0.01). These results show that, despite the learning stage’s beneficial influence on cultivating learners’ critical thinking, we are unable to explain why it is essential for cultivating critical thinking in the context of collaborative problem-solving.

Different teaching types had varying degrees of positive impact on critical thinking, with significant intergroup differences (chi 2 = 7.20, P < 0.05). The effect size was ranked as follows: mixed courses (ES = 1.34, P < 0.01), integrated courses (ES = 0.81, P < 0.01), and independent courses (ES = 0.27, P < 0.01). These results indicate that the most effective approach to cultivate critical thinking utilizing collaborative problem solving is through the teaching type of mixed courses.

Various intervention durations significantly improved critical thinking, and there were significant intergroup differences (chi 2 = 12.18, P < 0.01). The effect sizes related to this variable showed a tendency to increase with longer intervention durations. The improvement in critical thinking reached a significant level (ES = 0.85, P < 0.01) after more than 12 weeks of training. These findings indicate that the intervention duration and critical thinking’s impact are positively correlated, with a longer intervention duration having a greater effect.

Different learning scaffolds influenced critical thinking positively, with significant intergroup differences (chi 2 = 9.03, P < 0.01). The resource-supported learning scaffold (ES = 0.69, P < 0.01) acquired a medium-to-higher level of impact, the technique-supported learning scaffold (ES = 0.63, P < 0.01) also attained a medium-to-higher level of impact, and the teacher-supported learning scaffold (ES = 0.92, P < 0.01) displayed a high level of significant impact. These results show that the learning scaffold with teacher support has the greatest impact on cultivating critical thinking.

Various group sizes influenced critical thinking positively, and the intergroup differences were statistically significant (chi 2 = 8.77, P < 0.05). Critical thinking showed a general declining trend with increasing group size. The overall effect size of 2–3 people in this situation was the biggest (ES = 0.99, P < 0.01), and when the group size was greater than 7 people, the improvement in critical thinking was at the lower-middle level (ES < 0.5, P < 0.01). These results show that the impact on critical thinking is positively connected with group size, and as group size grows, so does the overall impact.

Various measuring tools influenced critical thinking positively, with significant intergroup differences (chi 2 = 0.08, P = 0.78 > 0.05). In this situation, the self-adapting measurement tools obtained an upper-medium level of effect (ES = 0.78), whereas the complete effect size of the standardized measurement tools was the largest, achieving a significant level of effect (ES = 0.84, P < 0.01). These results show that, despite the beneficial influence of the measuring tool on cultivating critical thinking, we are unable to explain why it is crucial in fostering the growth of critical thinking by utilizing the approach of collaborative problem-solving.

Different subject areas had a greater impact on critical thinking, and the intergroup differences were statistically significant (chi 2 = 13.36, P < 0.05). Mathematics had the greatest overall impact, achieving a significant level of effect (ES = 1.68, P < 0.01), followed by science (ES = 1.25, P < 0.01) and medical science (ES = 0.87, P < 0.01), both of which also achieved a significant level of effect. Programming technology was the least effective (ES = 0.39, P < 0.01), only having a medium-low degree of effect compared to education (ES = 0.72, P < 0.01) and other fields (such as language, art, and social sciences) (ES = 0.58, P < 0.01). These results suggest that scientific fields (e.g., mathematics, science) may be the most effective subject areas for cultivating critical thinking utilizing the approach of collaborative problem-solving.

## The effectiveness of collaborative problem solving with regard to teaching critical thinking

According to this meta-analysis, using collaborative problem-solving as an intervention strategy in critical thinking teaching has a considerable amount of impact on cultivating learners’ critical thinking as a whole and has a favorable promotional effect on the two dimensions of critical thinking. According to certain studies, collaborative problem solving, the most frequently used critical thinking teaching strategy in curriculum instruction can considerably enhance students’ critical thinking (e.g., Liang et al., 2017 ; Liu et al., 2020 ; Cindy, 2004 ). This meta-analysis provides convergent data support for the above research views. Thus, the findings of this meta-analysis not only effectively address the first research query regarding the overall effect of cultivating critical thinking and its impact on the two dimensions of critical thinking (i.e., attitudinal tendency and cognitive skills) utilizing the approach of collaborative problem-solving, but also enhance our confidence in cultivating critical thinking by using collaborative problem-solving intervention approach in the context of classroom teaching.

Furthermore, the associated improvements in attitudinal tendency are much stronger, but the corresponding improvements in cognitive skill are only marginally better. According to certain studies, cognitive skill differs from the attitudinal tendency in classroom instruction; the cultivation and development of the former as a key ability is a process of gradual accumulation, while the latter as an attitude is affected by the context of the teaching situation (e.g., a novel and exciting teaching approach, challenging and rewarding tasks) (Halpern, 2001 ; Wei and Hong, 2022 ). Collaborative problem-solving as a teaching approach is exciting and interesting, as well as rewarding and challenging; because it takes the learners as the focus and examines problems with poor structure in real situations, and it can inspire students to fully realize their potential for problem-solving, which will significantly improve their attitudinal tendency toward solving problems (Liu et al., 2020 ). Similar to how collaborative problem-solving influences attitudinal tendency, attitudinal tendency impacts cognitive skill when attempting to solve a problem (Liu et al., 2020 ; Zhang et al., 2022 ), and stronger attitudinal tendencies are associated with improved learning achievement and cognitive ability in students (Sison, 2008 ; Zhang et al., 2022 ). It can be seen that the two specific dimensions of critical thinking as well as critical thinking as a whole are affected by collaborative problem-solving, and this study illuminates the nuanced links between cognitive skills and attitudinal tendencies with regard to these two dimensions of critical thinking. To fully develop students’ capacity for critical thinking, future empirical research should pay closer attention to cognitive skills.

## The moderating effects of collaborative problem solving with regard to teaching critical thinking

In order to further explore the key factors that influence critical thinking, exploring possible moderating effects that might produce considerable heterogeneity was done using subgroup analysis. The findings show that the moderating factors, such as the teaching type, learning stage, group size, learning scaffold, duration of the intervention, measuring tool, and the subject area included in the 36 experimental designs, could all support the cultivation of collaborative problem-solving in critical thinking. Among them, the effect size differences between the learning stage and measuring tool are not significant, which does not explain why these two factors are crucial in supporting the cultivation of critical thinking utilizing the approach of collaborative problem-solving.

In terms of the learning stage, various learning stages influenced critical thinking positively without significant intergroup differences, indicating that we are unable to explain why it is crucial in fostering the growth of critical thinking.

Although high education accounts for 70.89% of all empirical studies performed by researchers, high school may be the appropriate learning stage to foster students’ critical thinking by utilizing the approach of collaborative problem-solving since it has the largest overall effect size. This phenomenon may be related to student’s cognitive development, which needs to be further studied in follow-up research.

With regard to teaching type, mixed course teaching may be the best teaching method to cultivate students’ critical thinking. Relevant studies have shown that in the actual teaching process if students are trained in thinking methods alone, the methods they learn are isolated and divorced from subject knowledge, which is not conducive to their transfer of thinking methods; therefore, if students’ thinking is trained only in subject teaching without systematic method training, it is challenging to apply to real-world circumstances (Ruggiero, 2012 ; Hu and Liu, 2015 ). Teaching critical thinking as mixed course teaching in parallel to other subject teachings can achieve the best effect on learners’ critical thinking, and explicit critical thinking instruction is more effective than less explicit critical thinking instruction (Bensley and Spero, 2014 ).

In terms of the intervention duration, with longer intervention times, the overall effect size shows an upward tendency. Thus, the intervention duration and critical thinking’s impact are positively correlated. Critical thinking, as a key competency for students in the 21st century, is difficult to get a meaningful improvement in a brief intervention duration. Instead, it could be developed over a lengthy period of time through consistent teaching and the progressive accumulation of knowledge (Halpern, 2001 ; Hu and Liu, 2015 ). Therefore, future empirical studies ought to take these restrictions into account throughout a longer period of critical thinking instruction.

With regard to group size, a group size of 2–3 persons has the highest effect size, and the comprehensive effect size decreases with increasing group size in general. This outcome is in line with some research findings; as an example, a group composed of two to four members is most appropriate for collaborative learning (Schellens and Valcke, 2006 ). However, the meta-analysis results also indicate that once the group size exceeds 7 people, small groups cannot produce better interaction and performance than large groups. This may be because the learning scaffolds of technique support, resource support, and teacher support improve the frequency and effectiveness of interaction among group members, and a collaborative group with more members may increase the diversity of views, which is helpful to cultivate critical thinking utilizing the approach of collaborative problem-solving.

With regard to the learning scaffold, the three different kinds of learning scaffolds can all enhance critical thinking. Among them, the teacher-supported learning scaffold has the largest overall effect size, demonstrating the interdependence of effective learning scaffolds and collaborative problem-solving. This outcome is in line with some research findings; as an example, a successful strategy is to encourage learners to collaborate, come up with solutions, and develop critical thinking skills by using learning scaffolds (Reiser, 2004 ; Xu et al., 2022 ); learning scaffolds can lower task complexity and unpleasant feelings while also enticing students to engage in learning activities (Wood et al., 2006 ); learning scaffolds are designed to assist students in using learning approaches more successfully to adapt the collaborative problem-solving process, and the teacher-supported learning scaffolds have the greatest influence on critical thinking in this process because they are more targeted, informative, and timely (Xu et al., 2022 ).

With respect to the measuring tool, despite the fact that standardized measurement tools (such as the WGCTA, CCTT, and CCTST) have been acknowledged as trustworthy and effective by worldwide experts, only 54.43% of the research included in this meta-analysis adopted them for assessment, and the results indicated no intergroup differences. These results suggest that not all teaching circumstances are appropriate for measuring critical thinking using standardized measurement tools. “The measuring tools for measuring thinking ability have limits in assessing learners in educational situations and should be adapted appropriately to accurately assess the changes in learners’ critical thinking.”, according to Simpson and Courtney ( 2002 , p. 91). As a result, in order to more fully and precisely gauge how learners’ critical thinking has evolved, we must properly modify standardized measuring tools based on collaborative problem-solving learning contexts.

With regard to the subject area, the comprehensive effect size of science departments (e.g., mathematics, science, medical science) is larger than that of language arts and social sciences. Some recent international education reforms have noted that critical thinking is a basic part of scientific literacy. Students with scientific literacy can prove the rationality of their judgment according to accurate evidence and reasonable standards when they face challenges or poorly structured problems (Kyndt et al., 2013 ), which makes critical thinking crucial for developing scientific understanding and applying this understanding to practical problem solving for problems related to science, technology, and society (Yore et al., 2007 ).

## Suggestions for critical thinking teaching

Other than those stated in the discussion above, the following suggestions are offered for critical thinking instruction utilizing the approach of collaborative problem-solving.

First, teachers should put a special emphasis on the two core elements, which are collaboration and problem-solving, to design real problems based on collaborative situations. This meta-analysis provides evidence to support the view that collaborative problem-solving has a strong synergistic effect on promoting students’ critical thinking. Asking questions about real situations and allowing learners to take part in critical discussions on real problems during class instruction are key ways to teach critical thinking rather than simply reading speculative articles without practice (Mulnix, 2012 ). Furthermore, the improvement of students’ critical thinking is realized through cognitive conflict with other learners in the problem situation (Yang et al., 2008 ). Consequently, it is essential for teachers to put a special emphasis on the two core elements, which are collaboration and problem-solving, and design real problems and encourage students to discuss, negotiate, and argue based on collaborative problem-solving situations.

Second, teachers should design and implement mixed courses to cultivate learners’ critical thinking, utilizing the approach of collaborative problem-solving. Critical thinking can be taught through curriculum instruction (Kuncel, 2011 ; Leng and Lu, 2020 ), with the goal of cultivating learners’ critical thinking for flexible transfer and application in real problem-solving situations. This meta-analysis shows that mixed course teaching has a highly substantial impact on the cultivation and promotion of learners’ critical thinking. Therefore, teachers should design and implement mixed course teaching with real collaborative problem-solving situations in combination with the knowledge content of specific disciplines in conventional teaching, teach methods and strategies of critical thinking based on poorly structured problems to help students master critical thinking, and provide practical activities in which students can interact with each other to develop knowledge construction and critical thinking utilizing the approach of collaborative problem-solving.

Third, teachers should be more trained in critical thinking, particularly preservice teachers, and they also should be conscious of the ways in which teachers’ support for learning scaffolds can promote critical thinking. The learning scaffold supported by teachers had the greatest impact on learners’ critical thinking, in addition to being more directive, targeted, and timely (Wood et al., 2006 ). Critical thinking can only be effectively taught when teachers recognize the significance of critical thinking for students’ growth and use the proper approaches while designing instructional activities (Forawi, 2016 ). Therefore, with the intention of enabling teachers to create learning scaffolds to cultivate learners’ critical thinking utilizing the approach of collaborative problem solving, it is essential to concentrate on the teacher-supported learning scaffolds and enhance the instruction for teaching critical thinking to teachers, especially preservice teachers.

## Implications and limitations

There are certain limitations in this meta-analysis, but future research can correct them. First, the search languages were restricted to English and Chinese, so it is possible that pertinent studies that were written in other languages were overlooked, resulting in an inadequate number of articles for review. Second, these data provided by the included studies are partially missing, such as whether teachers were trained in the theory and practice of critical thinking, the average age and gender of learners, and the differences in critical thinking among learners of various ages and genders. Third, as is typical for review articles, more studies were released while this meta-analysis was being done; therefore, it had a time limit. With the development of relevant research, future studies focusing on these issues are highly relevant and needed.

## Conclusions

The subject of the magnitude of collaborative problem-solving’s impact on fostering students’ critical thinking, which received scant attention from other studies, was successfully addressed by this study. The question of the effectiveness of collaborative problem-solving in promoting students’ critical thinking was addressed in this study, which addressed a topic that had gotten little attention in earlier research. The following conclusions can be made:

Regarding the results obtained, collaborative problem solving is an effective teaching approach to foster learners’ critical thinking, with a significant overall effect size (ES = 0.82, z = 12.78, P < 0.01, 95% CI [0.69, 0.95]). With respect to the dimensions of critical thinking, collaborative problem-solving can significantly and effectively improve students’ attitudinal tendency, and the comprehensive effect is significant (ES = 1.17, z = 7.62, P < 0.01, 95% CI [0.87, 1.47]); nevertheless, it falls short in terms of improving students’ cognitive skills, having only an upper-middle impact (ES = 0.70, z = 11.55, P < 0.01, 95% CI [0.58, 0.82]).

As demonstrated by both the results and the discussion, there are varying degrees of beneficial effects on students’ critical thinking from all seven moderating factors, which were found across 36 studies. In this context, the teaching type (chi 2 = 7.20, P < 0.05), intervention duration (chi 2 = 12.18, P < 0.01), subject area (chi 2 = 13.36, P < 0.05), group size (chi 2 = 8.77, P < 0.05), and learning scaffold (chi 2 = 9.03, P < 0.01) all have a positive impact on critical thinking, and they can be viewed as important moderating factors that affect how critical thinking develops. Since the learning stage (chi 2 = 3.15, P = 0.21 > 0.05) and measuring tools (chi 2 = 0.08, P = 0.78 > 0.05) did not demonstrate any significant intergroup differences, we are unable to explain why these two factors are crucial in supporting the cultivation of critical thinking in the context of collaborative problem-solving.

## Data availability

All data generated or analyzed during this study are included within the article and its supplementary information files, and the supplementary information files are available in the Dataverse repository: https://doi.org/10.7910/DVN/IPFJO6 .

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## Acknowledgements

This research was supported by the graduate scientific research and innovation project of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region named “Research on in-depth learning of high school information technology courses for the cultivation of computing thinking” (No. XJ2022G190) and the independent innovation fund project for doctoral students of the College of Educational Science of Xinjiang Normal University named “Research on project-based teaching of high school information technology courses from the perspective of discipline core literacy” (No. XJNUJKYA2003).

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Xu, E., Wang, W. & Wang, Q. The effectiveness of collaborative problem solving in promoting students’ critical thinking: A meta-analysis based on empirical literature. Humanit Soc Sci Commun 10 , 16 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41599-023-01508-1

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## VIDEO

## COMMENTS

The national curriculum for mathematics aims to ensure that all pupils: ... can solve problems by applying their mathematics to a variety of routine and non-routine problems with increasing ...

The national curriculum for mathematics aims to ensure that all pupils: become. fluent . in the fundamentals of mathematics, including through varied and frequent practice with increasingly complex problems over time, so that pupils develop conceptual understanding and the ability to recall and apply knowledge rapidly and accurately.

Instructional programs from prekindergarten through grade 12 should enable each and every student to—. Recognize reasoning and proof as fundamental aspects of mathematics. Make and investigate mathematical conjectures. Develop and evaluate mathematical arguments and proofs. Select and use various types of reasoning and methods of proof.

Problem solving and the new curriculum. Is problem solving at the heart of your curriculum? In this article for teachers, Lynne explains why it should be. ... This article, written for primary teachers, discusses what we mean by 'problem-solving skills' and draws attention to NRICH tasks which can help develop specific skills. list Trial and ...

Brief. Problem solving plays an important role in mathematics and should have a prominent role in the mathematics education of K-12 students. However, knowing how to incorporate problem solving meaningfully into the mathematics curriculum is not necessarily obvious to mathematics teachers. (The term "problem solving" refers to mathematical ...

The aims of the National Curriculum are to develop fluency and the ability to reason mathematically and solve problems. Reasoning is not only important in its own right but impacts on the other two aims. Reasoning about what is already known in order to work out what is unknown will improve fluency; for example if I know what 12 × 12 is, I can ...

Fluency reasoning and problem solving have been central to the new maths national curriculum for primary schools introduced in 2014. Here we look at how these three approaches or elements of maths can be interwoven in a child's maths education through KS1 and KS2. ... Best practice for problem solving in a lesson, a unit, and a term . When an ...

Find out more. National Curriculum Resource Tool. Selected Results. Year 5: Number and Place Value. read, write, order and compare numbers to at least 1 000 000 and determine the value of each digit. count forwards or backwards in steps of powers of 10 for any given number up to 1 000 000. interpret negative numbers in context, count forwards ...

So how does problem solving figure in the new National Curriculum which was implemented in autumn 2014? The document says: Purpose of study: Mathematics is a creative and highly inter-connected discipline that has been developed over centuries, providing the solution to some of history's most intriguing problems.

Along with fluency and reasoning, problem-solving is central to the National Curriculum for maths, and the launch of NRICH's Problem-Solving Schools programme offers timely additional support for schools. A new report published by Ofsted in July 2023 encourages schools to focus more consistently on teaching problem-solving, and ensure that all ...

standards of problem solving, reasoning and proof, communication, representation, and connections. The second are the strands of mathematical proficiency specified in the National Research Council's report Adding It Up: adaptive reasoning, strategic competence, conceptual understanding (comprehension of mathematical concepts,

Therefore, the way in which the problem solving question is presented in assessment is important. The value in terms of problem solving will be diminished if, for example: (1) the task within the question is very familiar to the student; (2) the mathematical methods are identified explicitly in the question; (3) the question is highly scaffolded.

Introduction. This collection of 60 short videos, filmed in a range of school classrooms in 2012 and 2013, shows teaching, and learning, in line with the three overall aims of the new National Curriculum. These aims are that pupils should develop fluency, reason mathematically and be able to solve problems.

Collaborative problem-solving has been widely embraced in the classroom instruction of critical thinking, which is regarded as the core of curriculum reform based on key competencies in the field ...

Each year 30,000+ K-12 students in 34+ U.S. states and 14 countries participate in a variety of Future Problem Solving challenges. ... Her background in advanced curriculum strategies and highly engaging learning techniques translates well in the development of materials, publications, training, and marketing for the organization and its global ...

A comprehensive and coherent set of mathematics standards for each and every student from prekindergarten through grade 12, Principles and Standards is the first set of rigorous, college and career readiness standards for the 21st century. Principles and Standards for School Mathematics outlines the essential components of a high-quality school mathematics program.

Problem solving for national curriculum mathematics by Wells, D. G. (David Graham), 1940-Publication date 1990 ... Wells, D. G. (David Graham), 1940- Mathematics through problem solving Boxid IA40187205 Camera Sony Alpha-A6300 (Control) Collection_set printdisabled External-identifier urn:oclc:record:1280722856 ...

The NRICH Project aims to enrich the mathematical experiences of all learners. To support this aim, members of the NRICH team work in a wide range of capacities, including providing professional development for teachers wishing to embed rich mathematical tasks into everyday classroom practice. NRICH is part of the family of activities in the ...

society. (2) Mathematics is something one DOES--solve problems, communicate, reason; it is not a spectator sport. (3) The learning of mathematics is an active process, with students constructing knowledge derived from meaningful experiences and real problems. (4) A curriculum for all includes a broad range of content, a variety of

2006 Curriculum Focal Points 2010 Focus in High School Mathematics 1989 Curriculum and ... National Center for Education Statistics. (2013). The Nation's Report Card: A First Look: 2013 Mathematics and Reading ... problem solving and that allow for multiple entry points and varied solution strategies.

Perfect for grades 5-12. Since 1993, our students have mastered the critical thinking and problem solving skills to excel in prestigious competitions, universities, and careers. SHOP BOOKS SHOP COURSES #1. Since 2015, all USA International Math Olympiad teammates have been AoPS students ... Senior Math Curriculum Developer Winner of Canadian ...

The National Curriculum has for many years been criticised for its narrow focus and lack of room for creativity or development of problem solving skills . In 2009 Cambridge University published its review of primary education, a hugely detailed and in-depth investigation undertaken over three years.

From 1980 in the Agenda for Action, which included as its first recommendation that mathematics curriculum have a focus on problem solving; to the release of NCTM's Curriculum and Evaluation Standards (1989), reminding us that problem solving is a process in which developing students as problem solvers is essential if students are to become ...