St Swithun's CE Primary SchoolGrundy Crescent, Kennington, Oxford OX1 5PS


St Swithun's has been appointed as an Inspire Maths Advocate School as a result of demonstrating good teaching and learning of the Singapore approach in 2017.

Inspire maths is the UK edition of ‘My Pals are Here!’, the internationally renowned approach used to teach maths in Singapore, which was influenced by the Cockcroft report of 1982.  Singapore’s Ministry of Education drew on leading international research on effective teaching and learning of maths to meet the challenge of raising primary mathematics attainment within Singapore schools. This programme’s success is reflected in the high levels of mathematics attainment by Singapore pupils, who are consistently ranked among the very top international comparison studies such as PISA and TIMSS. 

Inspire Maths provides a highly scaffolded learning framework with problem solving at its heart.  It is built on focused, coherent and cumulative spiral curriculum that continuously builds and consolidates knowledge to reach deep understanding.  The programme encourages extensive practice to develop fluency and mastery, so that every child – across all abilities – can succeed at mathematics.

Inspire maths emphasises the development of critical thinking and problem solving skills which can help children make connections to develop deeper understanding.  The powerful concrete-pictorial-abstract (CPA) approach, including the bar model method, is central to this.

Why is the CPA approach so powerful? From very early on in their school life, we expect children to use and understand numbers, which are abstract concepts.  Many children struggle with this or adults assume that this understanding is in place before it is truly embedded, so their first experiences of mathematics can be confusing, leaving them without a sufficiently solid foundation to build on for later learning.  The CPA approach helps children achieve secure number sense – that is, a sense of what numbers really represent and how to use them mathematically.  This is done through a series of carefully structured representations – first using physical objects (concrete), then diagrams or pictures (pictorial), and ultimately using representations such as numerals (abstract).