# Year 6 arithmetic

Discussion in 'Primary' started by alexanderosman, Nov 5, 2017.

1. ### alexanderosmanOccasional commenter

Just wanting to gauge where others are at with their Year 6 classes in arithmetic currently, as I'm a bit worried mine are behind and now we're so far into the year I'm going to get criticised for it. I know that last year I managed to get in FDP as well before Christmas.
A significant proportion of my class (about two thirds) either can't use long multiplication at all or aren't secure in it.
Slightly over a third can't use short division accurately.
Most of the class struggle calculating with decimals in all four operations.
The range of mental strategies and understanding of inverses is limited (which is why I'm only just starting to address the above multiplication and division issues as I've been working on these for addition and subtraction). I'm not following White Rose, but am using a similar blocked approach and incorporating a variety of contexts with teaching calculation strategies (so planning to cover area and volume with multiplication for example).

2. ### brighton56Occasional commenter

I'm in a very similar position. Every day now for morning tasks we are doing multiplication and division in the run up to Christmas.

Pomz likes this.
3. ### alexanderosmanOccasional commenter

Are you also teaching shape/measure etc? Or just focusing on the calculations?

4. ### brighton56Occasional commenter

Between now and Christmas I will cover FDP, algebra, BODMAS. The last half term was place value and 4 operation. Shape/measure etc. I will fit in after Christmas.

I think the important thing is to do daily 4 operation (including work with fractions and percentages) to get them up to speed. 10 minutes a day will pay dividends in the long run.

Lara mfl 05 likes this.
5. ### alexanderosmanOccasional commenter

I will do area, volume, order of operations/brackets, common factors, common multiples and primes, and probably co-ordinates and reflection at the end of term, as well as lots of lessons on mental and written methods in all four operations. Getting some algebra work in wherever possible (missing number questions, shapes representing numbers etc.).
Just don't think I will get to FDP.
So probably we're at a similar point but working in a slightly different order.
Almost none of mine can find a percentage of a number or do any fractions work that involves equivalents, so I thought it was best to leave it until I can spend a proper length of time on it.
How many questions can yours get done in 10 minutes?

6. ### brighton56Occasional commenter

I've not looked at timings but I would hope most of my class can score 40% or above in an arithmetic test by Christmas.

As 70% of the maths test is PV, number, 4 operation and FDP then I am prioritising these to the hilt.

You can use lessons like volume to work on multiplying etc. so I wouldn't worry about your planning.

alexanderosman likes this.
7. ### alexanderosmanOccasional commenter

Two thirds of mine are currently at 50% plus which isn't too bad - they do reasonably well on the tests but have gaps in understanding which will affect their reasoning scores if they aren't fixed. If I can secure the four operations with decimals and long multiplication by Christmas I think that will be good.
The worst thing about Year 6 is the time pressure - I get so worried about whether I'm using the time effectively.
Yes that was my reasoning behind doing area and volume now - trying to make everything link into the four operations with whole numbers theme, then just blitz FDP and ratio after Christmas.

brighton56 likes this.
8. ### modgepodgeOccasional commenter

I think you can get them to make masses of progress with just tedious practise between Xmas and may. In about Feb we started doing 5 questions in 5 mins of mixed arithmetic each lesson, and going through the answers. They started unable to complete 5 questions in 5 mins, let alone get them right. In a few months they were able to complete 7 of the hardest type on 5 mins, getting them correct. Daily exposure to rhe methods helped keep them fresh. I'd start this from September if I taught for SATs again (now in an independent school). From the end of march we started doing an arithmetic practise paper weekly, this massively helped their confidence as their scores just went up and up. I also had a teacher (but a TA could do this) who targeted specific borderline children daily for 5-10mins 1:1 or in pairs, focusing on methods they kept getting wrong.

With regards to FDP, get it taught asap. After Xmas is fine. Agree about leaving the measure, stats etc til later in the year. So many marks are available for arithmetic and FDP, if makes sense to focus on these.

I had a middle set and every single child in it was 'borderline'. They all got over 30 in arithmetic, with a fair few getting 40. They didn't all get 100 overall, but I felt they'd got the highest score possible with this approach. Note, the highest score, not the best possible maths education unfortunately. But that's what you have to do in y6

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9. ### alexanderosmanOccasional commenter

Yes, that’s the other thing I find frustrating about Year 6 - having to sacrifice what is best for the children in the long run in order to get the best possible scores.
Thanks @brighton56 @modgepodge for the reassurance.
I’ve still got some work to do with the rest of the the school on ensuring more of the children are properly ready on entering year 6 - part of my frustration is that these children should be able to do long multiplication, percentages, add and subtract decimals already.

10. ### modgepodgeOccasional commenter

Yes - expectations on entry to y6 need to be communicated to the y5 teacher, and below. If they come up secure in the basics it makes life so much easier!

11. ### alexanderosmanOccasional commenter

It's my focus for this year - at least this class have given me a good idea of the areas we are weak in teaching.

12. ### qforshortNew commenter

I think my personal preference, if I were in your position, would be to at least address some aspects of FDP before Christmas. For me, I prefer to at least have touched on it and then revisited it after Christmas. I would personally choose aspects of FDP over area and volume as they account for such a huge part of the curriculum. Definitely echo the sentiments of several posters with regards to daily / regular revisiting of arithmetic. If they are secure with addition and subtraction, then give them 5 of those a day, including missing numbers, etc. Then you could gradually add in just a short division each day as extra or one long multiplication. However, don't succumb to timetable pressure either. You know these children and you know best and should trust your instincts. At the end of the day, if you feel, as their teacher, you need to devote several more weeks to securing calculation then you should do that. If you feel they could do with a break and they understand the basic concept of multiplication and division (and they're just poor in the execution of the methods) then maybe move on and come back - just to give everyone a break and clear their heads. I taught long division before half term and had so many pitiful gazes. They hated their lives honestly. I had a lot of 'Eh?!!' / 'What?!' / 'I don't get it!' (just what every teacher loves to hear to reinforce that they are truly on the right path with their career choice). Came back after half term, did some Halloween logic puzzles, then went back to long division and lo and behold they could all remember it and all do it successfully. Whether they ever use it again or revert to short division is another story...And you're right, it's so vital that the objectives that should be secure are secure before they get to you, particularly in place value, number and calculation. Good luck!

Last edited: Nov 5, 2017
13. ### alexanderosmanOccasional commenter

Thanks, I think my issue with starting on Fdp before Christmas is that I know once I start, I’ll uncover a whole new can of worms that needs to be addressed and want to have time to address these issues properly, whereas I’m confident I can cover area and volume in a couple of days each, reinforcing multiplication at the same time. However, I might add in finding fractions of numbers, and for the better ones percentages as well, as they should already know how to do that and it would link with multiplication and division.