What is SMART Maths?

‘The Back Story’

Website Materials

‘Everything we teach earlier paves the way for everything that comes later; and everything that comes later is made accessible to all children by what has been taught earlier.’


SMART Maths is a unique mastery approach to teaching.  A structured and coherent mathematics curriculum for the whole school, it delivers a high-quality mathematics education with an ambition for all children to develop a sense of excitement and curiosity about mathematics.

It is underpinned by a learning system created by Richard Dunne (Richard Dunne papers) known as Maths Makes Sense, previously published by Oxford University Press.

Richard Dunne was a member of the select group who advised the Department for Education on the Programmes of Study for Mathematics for the National Curriculum (2014). SMART Maths maintains the aspirational MMS curriculum and is fully dovetailed with NC 2014 ensuring all statutory requirements are met. SMART Maths also correlates with the Early Learning Goals of the StatutoryFramework Early Years Foundation Stage (2020) and the 2018 Pilot EYFS Framework.

The Learning System ensures a consistent whole-school approach so that throughout their primary schooling children learn mathematics, not teachers.

SMART Maths is a Concrete to Pictorial to Abstract approach (CPA) using concrete objects, exaggerated actions and special vocabulary to help every child succeed.

This combination of objects, actions and vocabulary makes maths accessible to all children from the youngest age. The learning system builds deep understanding and embeds a picture of the maths in children’s minds so they progress to thinking without the aid of physical objects; they refer to their mental images instead.

Many concepts are introduced with paper cups as a consistent object, this supports unitising. The cup is an arbitrary unit providing access to a ‘Real Story’ which can be acted out and through simple substitution to another object forms a bridge between abstract mathematics and the real-life world.  The mathematics can then be deepened through application to a range of manipulatives for wider representation.     

Emphasis is placed on fluency first, developing quick and accurate number skills.

Conceptual alongside procedural understanding from the earliest stages, leads to strong reasoning and problem-solving skills supplemented by quality resources from The National Centre of Excellence in Teaching Mathematics.

Sustained Professional Development is integral to the SMART Maths programme with the aim that every teacher can become a maths expert.