Maths – Inspire Maths

maths1We began a full implementation of Inspire Maths across our school in September 2015, so we are still in our early phase. It was chosen as it is a whole-school primary maths programme that provides everything we need to support an approach to teaching and learning mathematics which is greater in depth and meets the higher expectations of the 2014 National Curriculum.

Inspire Maths is a transformational, whole-school approach, to raising pupils’ achievement in maths. The programme of resources is built upon the internationally acclaimed approach to teaching mathematics in Singapore. Published by Oxford University Press it is based on the leading Singapore Maths series My Pals are Here, used in 100% of Singapore’s state primary schools.


So how does it work in your child’s classroom?

Inspire Maths uses accessible individual pupil textbooks which introduce concepts in a highly scaffolded way, enabling all our children to develop critical thinking skills, make mathematical connections and become confident mathematicians. Inspire Maths builds firm foundations and a deep understanding of mathematical concepts through a concrete-pictorial-abstract approach.


An example of a Pupil textbook (1a)

The Pupil Textbooks provide a scaffolded introduction to each new learning objective, the guided practice activities appearing in the textbooks are completed in children’s maths journals.

Next come the children’s Practice Books, these provide carefully structured questions to reinforce concepts introduced in the Pupil Textbooks.


An example of Pupil practice book (2b)

A wealth of activities develop fluency, build mathematical confidence and lead towards a greater depth of understanding.

The practice books are used to quickly identify gaps in learning for immediate intervention and opportunities for further practice, challenge or enrichment. For our children they provide an opportunity to self-reflect, celebrate success and build confidence.

Inspire Maths aims to teach children to a greater depth and meet the higher expectations of the National Curriculum we are excited by our new approach to ensuring all children can access the new higher pitch and expectations.

It is exciting times here at Ropery Walk and we look forward to observing how Inspire Maths works with our children and measuring the impact of it as they move through the school.

Background To Concrete, Pictorial and Abstract (CPA)

Children and adults can find maths difficult because it is abstract. The CPA approach helps children learn new ideas and build on their existing knowledge by introducing abstract concepts in a more familiar and tangible way. The approach is firmly embedded in Inspire maths teaching.

Concrete is the “doing” stage, using concrete objects to model problems. Instead of the traditional method of maths teaching, where a teacher demonstrates how to solve a problem, the CPA approach brings concepts to life by allowing children to experience and handle physical objects themselves. Every new abstract concept is learned first with a “concrete” or physical experience.

For example, if a problem is about adding up four baskets of fruit , the children might first handle actual fruit before progressing to handling counters or cubes which are used to represent the fruit.

At Ropery Walk school we use a range of concrete resources in all lessons.


Pictorial is the “seeing” stage, using representations of the objects to model problems. This stage encourages children to make a mental connection between the physical object and abstract levels of understanding by drawing or looking at pictures, circles, diagrams or models which represent the objects in the problem.

Building or drawing a model makes it easier for children to grasp concepts they traditionally find more difficult, such as fractions, as it helps them visualise the problem and make it more accessible.


Abstract is the “symbolic” stage, where children are able to use abstract symbols to model problems.

Only once a child has demonstrated that they have a solid understanding of the “concrete” and “pictorial” representations of the problem, can the teacher introduce the more “abstract” concept, such as mathematical symbols. Children are introduced to the concept at a symbolic level, using only numbers, notation, and mathematical symbols, for example +, –, x, / to indicate addition, multiplication, or division.

Although we’ve presented CPA as three distinct stages, our teachers will go back and forth between each representation to reinforce concepts.

Our approach encourages teachers to vary the apparatus the children use in class, for example, one day they might use counters, another day they might use a ten frame. Likewise, children are encouraged to represent the day’s maths problem in a variety of ways, for example, drawing an array, a number bond diagram or a bar model. By systematically varying the apparatus and methods they use to solve a problem, we help children to make quicker mental connections between the concrete, pictorial and abstract phases.

When teaching young children their numbers, counters and multi-link cubes are more commonly used in the UK. But concrete apparatus is often put away by the time children reach KS2 because teachers consider their use too childish or distracting. By removing concrete materials from the children, they are being exposed to abstract concepts too early and are missing out on the opportunity to build the conceptual mathematical understanding which they need to take them through their education. This does not happen at Ropery Walk school as we believe the use of concrete resources is a must in our children’s learning.

Parent Support

In Spring 2017 I invited parents into school to attend a workshop/information session to help them understand our new approach to teaching and learning in Maths – Inspire Maths. If you were unable to attend, you can view the powerpoint which was used.

Oxford Owl Maths – help for parents supporting their children with mathematics

The materials below and the links within this text are from Oxford Owl Maths and are free for parents to access. These resources are designed to support you with your children’s maths throughout their primary years. You’ll find a whole host of activities, simple ideas, top tips and eBooks to help your child with their maths at home.

There are lots of ways to help to build your child’s confidence in maths. There are many fun games and activities you can do with your child that practise maths skills. Most children love playing games and it’s an easy way to support their learning.

On Oxford Owl Maths, you’ll also find advice from educational experts on what your child is learning at school and how to make maths fun at home.

Oxford Owl guidance for parents with Maths in school

Oxford Press Parent Support Counting Objects
Oxford Press Parent Support Addition Lines
Oxford Press Parent Support Subtraction
Oxford Press Parent Support Timestables
Oxford Press Parent Support Multiplication
Oxford Press Parent Support Division
Oxford Press Parent Support Calculating Fractions