Posted by Peter on 7th July 2007

What is expected of children? Part 1: the 7 strands of maths

For parents it is often very difficult to know what is expected of their children at school. Over the next few weeks I will try to provide a guide for parents, starting today with how primary school maths has been broken down into ‘strands’.

What children are expected to learn in English schools is laid down by the National Curriculum, in particular the Primary Framework for Mathematics, which was renewed for the 2007 school year. The Primary Framework sets out the yearly programmes of work for schools to teach, from Reception (4/5 yrs old) through to Year 6 (10/11 yrs old). Most importantly for us is the knowledge that all of maths is organised into 7 strands.

The 7 strands are:

Counting and understanding number
This strand covers topics such as place value (understanding that the 3 in 300 is ten times the value of the 3 in 30), estimating and rounding numbers, number sequences, fractions, decimals and percentages.

Knowing and using number facts
This strand concentrates on what children should know at the end of each year. ‘Tables’ immediately springs to mind.

Calculating
This strand includes the ability to calculate ‘in your head’ and using written methods. Addition, subtraction, multiplication and division are the main areas. It is very much tied in with Knowing and using number facts above.

Understanding shape
This strand includes everything to do with shapes: both 2D and 3D.

Measuring
Often we think of measuring just in terms of length, but of course there are also mass or weight, capacity, time, area etc.

Handling data
This strand includes graphs, tally charts, Venn diagrams etc – all ways of displaying results of surveys etc.

Using and applying mathematics
This strand covers all the other six strands as children put their knowledge and skills to use, in solving problems.

So, there we are, the 7 magic strands!

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