St Stephens039

Philosophy for Teaching Maths

At St Stephen's we teach Maths using an approach called CPA, which stands for concrete, pictorial and abstract.


By first teaching children the calculation using concrete equipment, we can help children to have hands-on experience of the quantities involved and by physically moving the objects around they are engaging in a more meaningful way with the mathematical concepts and processes.


Children will then learn how to represent the concrete process pictorially so that they are able to record the process and their answer but maintain that vital connection to the sense of number and mathematical process under-pinning it. The pictorial approach very much reflects the concrete approach the children will have already learnt.


The abstract calculation is the written method. In school we encourage the children to use the pictorial method alongside the abstract and we are in no rush to move children away from this. Although the abstract method is the one they will probably settle on as they get older, throughout their time with us our priority is to reinforce their mathematical understanding and if continuing to use the pictorial method, even after understanding the abstract, helps with this then we encourage it.

Progression Through The School 

We have mapped out the concrete, pictorial and abstract methods to be used across the school to ensure skills and understanding are built through consistent use of language, equipment and images.

If you would like to further support your child with maths at home, below are a series of guide videos which demonstrate the concrete, pictorial and abstract methods your child will be taught in class, whilst also modelling the specific vocabulary your child's teacher will be using. At the moment they are available for addition and subtraction, with multiplication and division in the pipeline.

If you feel your child is confident in the methods shown in the videos for their year group and you want to move them on, please speak to their teacher rather than introducing a method from the next year group. We want to ensure your child has a really secure understanding of the maths involved, and is able to adapt and apply this understanding in order to deepen it and your child's teacher will be able to support you with how best to achieve this.


EYFS Videos

Year 1 Videos

Year 2 Videos

Year 3 Videos

Year 4 Videos

Year 5 Videos

Year 6 Videos