Parent Information

What is the Mathematics Programme of Study?

The Programme of Study is a list of what should be taught in each year from Year 1 to Year 6 (5 to 11 years old). Originally called the Numeracy Strategy, it was launched by the Government in 1999 to improve children’s mathematical ability. It has undergone several changes since then, the latest occurring in 2014.

The Programme of Study is divided into year groups under several headings:

  • Numbers
  • Addition and subtraction
  • Multiplication and division
  • Fractions
  • Measurement
  • Geometry
  • Statistics

And in Year 6 two further categories: Ratio and Proportion and Algebra.

Within these categories there are a number of sub-headings. For example, Geometry is sub-divided into Properties of Shapes and Position and Direction.

All of our worksheets are organised in exactly the same format as the Programme of Study, which makes it very easy to find a topic and move up and down the year groups to find work at the right level for your children. Most sets of worksheets contain a Concepts page explaining the work and, apart from the very simplest pages, full sets of answers.

Further details of each category are found below:


Understanding of numbers and the number system goes hand in hand with calculating. The number system means concepts such as place value, ordering numbers, estimating and rounding, Roman numerals etc.

In Year 1 this may be reading and writing numbers or learning to count to 100. By Year 3, children will be comparing and ordering numbers up to 1 000, whilst by Year 5, children will be expected to read and write in millions and round large numbers to the nearest 100 000.

All our worksheets carefully develop this understanding by providing a wealth of appropriate activities. By using them you know that you are working with your children in the same way as is suggested in the Programme of Study.

Calculating (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division)

The approach to calculation has seen a significant shift with the introduction of the latest Programme of Study. Formal written methods of addition are expected to be used in Year 3, and multiplying a 3-digit number by a 1-digit number in Year 4. By Year 5, children will be taught to use the short division method to divide 4-digit numbers by a 1-digit number. However, much of the Programme is very similar to the way teachers have taught previously. Our resources give teachers and parents the confidence to teach and help in the right way, by showing the methods suggested and at what stages they should be introduced.

Mental Arithmetic

A great deal of emphasis is placed on mental methods of calculating in the Programme of Study. Time and time again attention is drawn to the fact that a range of mental methods needs to be taught and that for any sum, children should ask whether it can be done mentally before resorting to pencil and paper methods.

There are two aspects to this: knowing by heart and figuring out. So, it is expected that children would know by heart that 6 x 7 is 42, but it is also expected that this knowledge can be used to quickly work out that 60 x 7 is 420. Pencil and paper methods should not be necessary for this.

Solving Problems

Problem solving is a very important part of the new Programme. Many children find this kind of work very hard as they are unsure of the mathematical processes to use to achieve the correct result. It is rather like solving a puzzle, working out what the puzzle means and then what maths is needed to solve it.

In Year 1 this might be a question such as, "What coins can I use to pay for a sweet costing 5p?", whilst by Year 6 the problem may involve carrying out several different calculations - multi step operations as they are known. Often there is more than one way to answer these questions, and discussing the problem with your children is a really good approach to take.


There is a much greater emphasis on fractions in the new Programme, with it now being a category all of its own. In Year 1, children will be expected to recognise and name halves and quarters. By Year 3, children will be taught to count in tenths and add or subtract fractions with the same denominator (e.g. 2/7 + 1/7 = 3/7). Year 6 children will be multiplying a pair of fractions, writing the answer in its simplest form.

Of course, many children have always found it hard to understand fractions, but we have a large number of pages in each year group to support and encourage them to overcome any difficulties.


Children are expected to learn to measure length, area, mass and volume, and to know what units to use. Also, telling the time in Years 1, 2, and 3 is important, whilst in later years there are more difficult problems involving time and the 24 hour clock. Money is also considered as part of measurement, with children in Year 1 expected to be able to recognise and know the value of different denominations of coins and notes.

At each stage our resources make it clear what vocabulary children are expected to know and what units need to be learnt. For example, by Year 2, children are expected to know that there are 100 centimetres in one metre. Measurement, in particular, is an area of maths which can easily be developed at home, where practical exercises can be carried out when cooking, in the garden, going on a day out - the list is endless, but don't forget that we now live in a metric world!


We are all relying more and more on data held on the computer. This data can help us find information, but it needs to be understood and processed correctly. There is slightly less emphasis on Statistics and it is not introduced as a statutory requirement until Year 2. However, we still provide a great set of resources for Year 1 children.

As children progress they will use terms such as average, mean and mode to extract and interpret data. Our worksheets contain many practical pages asking children to collect information, organise it into graphs or charts and then to interpret the results.

Year 6 Ratio and Proportion

A new category just for Year 6 children which looks at solving problems involving the relative sizes of two quantities, calculating percentages and scale.

Year 6 Algebra

Another new category, with children being taught to use simple formulae expressed in words and make number sequences. This might sound hard but is good fun!


Whilst not a formal category anymore, investigations are still an important way to give children the opportunity to develop their knowledge of number and to explore the interrelationships and patterns within Mathematics. They are 'open ended' tasks, challenging children to reason effectively and explain what they are doing. To do this successfully they need to be asked the right kinds of questions. Good questions include:

  • Is there a pattern?
  • What would happen if......?
  • Does it always happen?
  • What happens if you use different numbers?

Key Stage 2 tests and booster classes

The Government has set up a series of targets for schools to achieve, based on the results of National Curriculum tests taken in Year 6 ( when children are 10 or 11 years old). These targets aim for most children (usually between 70% and 80%, but in some schools higher still) to achieve a Level 4 in the NCTs. These tests remain in place for another year before being replaced in 2016.

There are, of course many children who are close to this target and our Key Stage 2 Booster worksheets are designed to 'boost' them, by giving lots of examples of the types of question found around the level 3/4 borders and the level 4/5 borders. A quick burst on these before the tests may do the trick!

MathSphere’s aim from the outset in 1999 has been to provide software at realistic prices which will enable children to:

  • enjoy their maths
  • become confident in their own ability
  • be quick and accurate in mental arithmetic
  • be proficient with pencil and paper methods
  • become inspired to improve even more

The creators of the maths content

  • are all primary maths and special needs teachers with years of experience in both teaching maths and writing software
  • have used the Mathematics Programme of Study as the basis of all work
  • know how to make it easy and fun for children to learn.