The new DfE Mathematics Guidance for KS1 and KS2

A recent webinar with Bernie Westacott explored some of the key number and place value ready-to-progress criteria set out in the new DfE non-statutory guidance for Primary Maths and explored a range of resources and apps that can support schools with each part. This blog post summarises some of the key takeaways on the guidance.

New Mathematics Guidance for Key Stages 1 and 2 was issued by the DfE in June 2020. Produced in association with the NCETM, the guidance is non-statutory but is designed to sit alongside the National Curriculum to help primary schools develop their pupils’ mastery of maths.

The guidance identifies the most important conceptual knowledge and understanding that pupils need as they progress from Year 1 to Year 6. These important concepts are referred to as ready-to-progress criteria and provide a coherent, linked framework to support pupils’ mastery of the primary maths curriculum. Pupils who’ve mastered the ready-to-progress criteria for a year group will have the foundations that they need to make good progress in the following year.

The guidance is designed to support short-, medium- and long-term planning and is accompanied by a range of resources on the NCETM website and on YouTube that will help teachers to interpret and use the information. See below for full links to all of this support.

Teachers can use the guidance to inform decisions on how much teaching time to set aside for the different parts of the curriculum and inform planning on how teaching time can be weighted towards the ready-to-progress criteria.

The criteria are organised into six strands, each of which has its own code for ease of identification.

Here we’re looking in more detail at the number and place value strand – whose code is NPV.

The first part of the number and place value strand, NPV-1, is ‘all about 10’. In NPV-2, the focus is on how numbers are made up of other numbers, and for NPV-3 the focus is on knowing where numbers are in relation to other numbers and linking numerals to magnitude. NPV-4 covers dividing core place value units into equal parts, to support graphing and other contexts where scale is involved.

Core representations

The guidance outlines a core set of representations that have been selected to expose important mathematical structures and ideas, and make them accessible to pupils. Consistent use of the same representations across all year groups will help pupils to connect prior learning to new learning.

For example, the use of tens frames and counters is extended from Years 1 and 2, where each counter represents 1 and a filled frame represents 10, to other years where each counter represents 100 and a filled frame represents 1,000.

These representations are really important as they allow pupils to start to understand that, for example, when you start to fill a ten frame along the top line – that’s 5. Then they can start to learn numbers as ‘5 and’ – so if you add 2 counters it’s ‘5 and 2’ which is 7. This also helps them to learn about numbers in relation to 10 – so 7 would be 3 less than 10. They’re learning to compose and decompose numbers around anchor points of 5 and 10.

This can also be applied on a number line – using something like a rekenrek or a visual on the whiteboard that allows children to start subitising the numbers, rather than counting them individually.

The accompanying NCETM resources outline activities such as using straws to count and bundle together in groups of 10 – this allows pupils to begin to unitise. Stimulus questions are included to support each task.

The guidance covers both number as enumeration ie counting how many things there are and number as measure ie where is it on a number line? what is the magnitude of it?

It also looks at grouping and scaling as methods of multiplication. It’s important that you really understand scaling, as the 2014 National Curriculum didn’t cover this in detail. The difference is in the grouping or exchange model, you are multiplying 10s – and in the scaling model you’re multiplying by 10. This is described particularly well in the Maths Hub PD materials for Year 4, 2.13.

Language structures

The guidance includes ‘Language focus’ features – emphasising the importance of the development and use of precise and accurate mathematical language. The language focus boxes provide suggested sentence structures for pupils to use to capture, connect and apply important mathematical ideas. Once pupils have learnt to use a core sentence structure, they should be able to adapt and reason with it to apply their understanding in new contexts.

Because number names in English do not always reflect the structure of the numbers, pupils are encouraged to practise using dual counting, first counting with number names (eleven, twelve, thirteen …) and then repeating the count with words based on the number structures (one-ten, one-ten-one, one-ten-two …).

Making connections

The guidance also includes ‘Making connections’ features that discuss important connections between ready-to-progress criteria within a year group. For example, here in the Year 1 guidance links are made between counting fluently and sequencing in multiples of 2, 5 and 10.


Example assessment questions are provided for each ready-to-progress criterion. These questions demonstrate the depth and breadth of understanding that pupils need to be ready to progress to the next year group.

Applying the guidance in your school

There’s lots of support on the NCETM website on how you can apply the guidance in your school. They suggest that you begin by watching the introductory video for an overview, followed by the video for your particular year group that summarises all the ready-to-progress criteria relevant to that year. Then go to the chapter in the guidance document for your year group, to dig into it in more detail. Your local Maths Hub will be a good source of support and expertise, offering the opportunity to share learning and work collaboratively with other schools.

The key advice is to take your time – there is certainly much richness in the guidance, but it will take time to unpack and apply to your practice.

Maths resources from Oxford

All of our maths resources have been designed and written meet the aims of the National Curriculum. This includes coverage of all the aspects of the curriculum addressed in the Non-Statutory Guidance, including the Ready to Progress criteria.

The below matching charts show how each resource matches the criteria.

Digitally-led maths mastery
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Maths in your hands
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Fun and flexible online homework, lessons and maths games
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Supporting materials

DfE guidance document

Overview and year specific videos

NCTEM website

PowerPoints and other training materials