What's changing in the primary maths curriculum in 2014?

What's changing in the primary maths curriculum in 2014?

There's a recurring debate about the best way to teach maths in schools. It involves teachers, politicians and the media - who, of course, love to whip up the intensity. The usual trigger for the annual frenzy is publishing the PISA international test tables - which this year saw the UK a fair bit behind Shanghai, Singapore and Hong Kong

The debate also focuses on the merits of various teaching approaches. Should maths teaching be more traditional? Should the emphasis be more hands-on group activity?  More arithmetic? More creative problem solving?

In the midst of this debate, the Government is soon changing the primary maths curriculum in England. All this may be disconcerting for parents, like us, who have children in the primary school system - so here is some useful information that sheds light on the maths curriculum changes coming in September 2014:

What's Changing?

The government has published a new primary maths curriculum for Key Stages 1 and 2 which is to start in September 2014. The full document is here but here's the gist:

  • It affects Key Stages 1 & 2 ( that's all the primary maths curriculum) If you're in Scotland, Ireland or elsewhere in the world these changes aren't relevant - They're just for England.

  • There's more to learn - quite a few topics that used to be in secondary maths have been moved forward - such as long division and a more complex understanding of fractions

  • Fractions are introduced earlier, multiplication tables up to 12x are expected by age 9

  • There is an increased emphasis on practice. "So pupils develop the ability to recall and apply knowledge rapidly and accurately."

  • Calculators are out!  - to be replaced by "mental fluency and the use of efficient written methods in the four mathematical operations"

  • The National Curriculum Levels are out! -  Schools will be free to decide how to report to parents on children's progress. They will also be expected to report to parents on their children's SATs results using 10 ability bands worked out on a national level. More here

What's does this mean?

It's always difficult to predict how changes will affect learners in schools. At first glance there appear to be many sensible changes however the real test is in how schools implement the new curriculum - and we won't know this for a year or two. It's worth remembering that curriculum is not everything - the biggest influence on your child's learning will still be their teacher, the support they get at home and the school experience in general.

Where Next?

If you have a spare 30 minutes - yes I know how unlikely this is - you may find this BBC Radio 4 iPlayer programme interesting. It's an overview on maths teaching today and it touches on some of the same issues in more detail.


I'm Ged, Co-founder of Komodo, ex-maths teacher and dad. If you have any questions please get in touch.

About KomodoKomodo is a fun and effective way to boost primary maths skills. Designed for 5 to 11 year olds to use in the home, Komodo uses a little and often approach to learning maths (15 minutes, three to five times per week) that fits into the busy routine. Komodo users develop fluency and confidence in maths - without keeping them at the screen for long.

Find out more about Komodo and how it helps thousands of children each year do better at maths - you can even try Komodo for free.

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