Oak updates

1 August 2023

Collaborating with our maths expert group

Ed Southall

Subject Lead (maths)

We were delighted to announce, back in March, the curriculum partners and expert groups that would be collaborating with our subject leads to provide independent feedback and advice so we best meet the needs and diversity of the country’s education sector.

Our expert groups have now met twice, firstly to hear about the curriculum partners and subject leads’ initial plans for their new primary maths and secondary maths curricula and how they would be involved as experts. More recently, they discussed threads, curriculum explanations and curriculum sequencing, as well as maths-specific elements outlined below.

Curriculum explainer statement

We sought views on the quality of the curriculum explainer statement.

What is a curriculum explainer statement?

When you look at an Oak curriculum for the first time you will want to understand its intentions and how we reflect these. We have prepared curriculum explainer statements to articulate our vision to educators in a clear and concise manner.

Our expert’s thoughts on our curriculum explainer statement

In the format presented to the maths group, our experts thought that perhaps the explainer statement in its current format didn’t articulate exactly what was included within the curriculum. In trying to cover all of the maths-specific subject principles the group felt the true meaning was hard to articulate given the limited word count provided, particularly for non-specialists. Reflections will be made on this and will inform the revision of the statement. Some experts felt that defining fluency, reasoning and problem-solving would also be useful support for teachers setting out to use the curriculum.


We sought views on the threads selected for each subject to ensure they are suitable and meaningful.

What is a thread?

There’s agreement across the sector that one approach to curriculum coherence is to identify groups of units across the curriculum that explicitly build a common body of knowledge. What is not agreed, is a common language to describe these groups. Concepts, big ideas, themes and threads are all used to describe these groups often in relation to a specific subject.

We have decided to use the term threads to represent these links like the visual concept of a thread weaving through the curriculum.

Our experts’ take on threads

We asked our subject experts if they felt the threads initially chosen for maths would help to organise a curriculum successfully in a way that was useful for teachers. The concept of threads was felt to be meaningful, with experts appreciating that the threads chosen were relevant and that they align well with the national curriculum. Our experts felt that aligning threads with the existing strands of the DfE programme of study was a good idea to ensure that teachers recognised familiar themes in our content. However, we also decided to further subdivide threads in the primary curriculum so that earlier content was not restricted to a single ‘number’ thread but rather it could be separated out into more meaningful and useful elements within number itself. The expert group agreed that this was a good approach.

Quality of the curriculum sequence

We sought views on the quality of the sequence of units within the subject curriculum.

Feedback on the curriculum sequence from our experts

At this early stage, maths subject experts were shown the unit titles, threads and lesson titles. Experts were happy with the sequencing of our curriculum, and with how we had reorganised some content across different year groups within Key Stage 1 and 2 specifically (for example, content around fractions), to better suit the needs of learners and ensure concepts had the time dedicated to them to support the development of key ideas.

The integration of problem solving throughout the curriculum was discussed as some experts raised concerns about seeing problem solving lessons only at the end of units. Whilst these are lessons with ‘problem solving’ in the title, there is careful interleaving of strategic development of problem solving both within units and throughout the curriculum as articulated by Curriculum Development Leads in the meeting.

It was also suggested that teachers would benefit from being able to see each unit builds upon the previous one. We plan to make the prior and future unit descriptions available for those interacting with our curriculum sequences so that this can be fully understood.

We sincerely value the range of opinions and impartial expertise that our expert groups are lending us during this exciting time as we build our new curricula and teaching resources. We will reflect on this vital feedback as we continue to develop our curriculum sequences and teaching resources.

If you have any feedback you wish to share on topics discussed above please do get in touch with us.

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