Numicon and the 2018 SATs | Barnsbury Primary School and Nursery


Rebecca Royle
Barnsbury Primary School and Nursery, Surrey

Barnsbury Primary School and Nursery

Our Journey

We are a two-form entry primary in Woking and the Numicon approach to teaching and learning maths has become an integral part of our school’s ethos. At Barnsbury Primary School and Nursery the Numicon approach to teaching and learning in mathematics is embedded from the start of Nursery and is consistently used until the children leave us at the end of Year 6. Parents are invited to annual workshops to share the Numicon ethos and our mindset towards Maths! This workshop provides parents with the opportunity to gain an understanding of the importance of using resources to move from concrete understanding to the abstract. This consistency and early introduction to the approach enables all children to have firm foundations on which to build upon and we have found the impact this has had on our children to be huge!

Firm Foundations for Learning

Encouraging children to independently select manipulatives from a young age can provide children with the concrete learning that will eventually support them in their SATS in Year 6. This is something we have recognised with our improving results over the last three years. Because a range of manipulatives are consistently available to support all learners in all lessons, it is no longer seen as a stigma to select resources to aid learning. Because Numicon is everywhere throughout the school, children are able to select an appropriate resource to best support them and this also enables children to represent learning in a variety of ways. Not only does it support their learning but children love using manipulatives and maths becomes so much more engaging!

Preparing for SATS

Across KS2 this year we introduced the Numicon Pupil Books for the children. These pupil books enable children to answer questions in a variety of ways to gain a true understanding of mathematical concepts. Using these books has supported children’s fluency, reasoning and problem-solving skills, which in turn has led to increased confidence in all learners.

The children across the whole school love selecting manipulatives, experimenting with them and making connections and finding patterns. This is something we are proud of at Barnsbury and the children can articulate themselves well. Come and visit for yourselves!

The Numicon interventions (Big Ideas and Breaking Barriers) we have newly implemented this year at Barnsbury supported some children in filling in gaps in their knowledge and this has undoubtedly increased their confidence.

Numicon Pupil Books, Breaking Barriers, and Big Ideas


From the analysis of the three previous years SATS papers it was evident that the questions that arose in the papers came from new learning that had been taught from Year 3 onwards. This indicated to us the collaborative effort required to support Year 6 children in attaining in SATS. Because of their concrete learning, built on strong foundations, the Year 6 children are quick to visualise patterns and reason efficiently and this is reinforced throughout their time at Barnsbury. Similarly, because Numicon is an ethos around mathematics, children can apply mathematics in a context.

The KS2 SATS this year involved the testing of pupils understanding of the connections between numbers. It also relied on pupils’ fluent understanding of place value. This is something that the Numicon Approach supported throughout the children’s journey through EYFS, KS1 and KS2. Our reason for introducing Numicon to our school was for children to feel confident and be fluent in their understanding of mathematics in a context and this is exactly the impact it has had thus far.


The arithmetic paper asked children to assess whether the questions require mental arithmetic or formal written methods – having a concrete understanding of number and calculations supported children in answering quickly and concisely. Because of this concrete understanding, our attainment has increased over the last three years and the children who leave our school, leave as confident mathematicians with a growth mindset!