At Kingsfield, we teach a variety of problem-solving strategies which enable children to make sense of unfamiliar situations and tackle them intelligently.

Class teachers will seek opportunities for teaching problem solving strategies and more open ended investigations that reinforce the unit of learning and encourage children to use their reasoning skills. Within this, children will be encouraged to predict, work systematically, justify, test their answers, record and identify patterns. All children will regularly access problem solving and reasoning activities linked to the unit of work.

RUCSAC is an acronym displayed in every classroom to help children remember how to tackle mathematical word problems. Read, Understand, Choose, Solve, Answer, Check.

  • Read: Read the question. What is the important information?
  • Understand: Understand the question. What do you need to find out?
  • Choose: Choose the correct method of calculation and operation(s).
  • Solve: Solve the problem. Make sure you follow the steps.
  • Answer: Answer the question. What were you meant to find out?
  • Check: Check your answer. Use the inverse to check working out.

Bar modelling is also used to help children understand a problem. Bar models are pictorial representations of problems or concepts that can be used for any of the operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. In word problems, bar models hold the huge benefit of helping children decide which operations to use or visualise problems.

While working on a problem, children are encouraged to ask questions like, ‘What am I trying to work out?’, ‘How am I tackling this problem?’, ‘Is the approach that I’m taking working?’, and ‘What other approaches could I try?’ When the problem is completed, children are encouraged to ask questions like, ‘What worked well when solving this problem?’, ‘What didn’t work well?’, ‘What other problems could be solved by a similar approach?’, and ‘What similar problems to this one have I solved in the past?’ Children are inspired to communicate their thinking verbally and in writing—using representations, expressions, and equations— to both teachers and other children.

Pupils are encouraged to develop a ‘have a go’ attitude and are comfortable with making mistakes, as they are seen as part of the learning process. Working out and understanding the mathematics is valued more than the answer.