Calculation Policy

North Ealing Primary School
Calculation Policy


This calculation policy has been produced to ensure consistency in teaching throughout the school. This policy will give an overview of the different strategies used in our school to teach Mathematics throughout the Primary Mathematics Curriculum.

As children progress at different rates, some may need to use the strategies from previous or future year groups.

Pupils are introduced to the processes of calculation through practical, oral and mental activities. As pupils begin to understand the underlying ideas they develop ways of recording to support their thinking and calculation methods, use particular methods that apply to special cases and learn to interpret and use signs and symbols involved. Over time pupils learn how to use models and images, such as an empty number line, to support their mental and informal written methods of calculation.

There is considerable emphasis on teaching mental calculations. Informal written recording takes place regularly and is an important part of learning and understanding. More formal written methods follow only when the child is able to use a wide range of mental calculation strategies. As pupils’ mental methods are strengthened and refined, so too are their informal written methods. Some recording takes the form of jottings, which are used to support pupils’ thinking.

This policy contains the key pencil and paper procedures that will be taught within our school. It has been written to ensure consistency and progression throughout the school and reflect a whole school agreement.

This policy concentrates on the introduction of standard symbols, the use of the empty number line as jottings to aid mental calculation and on the introduction of pencil and paper procedures. It is important that pupils do not abandon jottings and mental Maths once pencil and paper procedures are introduced. Therefore pupils will always be encouraged to look at a calculation/problem and then decide which is the best method to choose; pictures, mental calculation with or without jottings or structured recordings.


Our long-term aim is for pupils to be able to select an efficient method of their choice (whether this be mental or written) that is appropriate for a given task.

Although the focus of the policy is on paper and pencil procedures it is important to recognise that the ability to calculate mentally lies at the heart of the National Curriculum. The mental methods will be taught systematically from Reception onwards and will be given regular opportunities to develop the necessary skills.

However mental calculation is not at the exclusion of written recording and should be seen as complementary to and not as separate from recording it. In every written method there is an element of mental processing. Sharing written methods with the teacher encourages pupils to think about the mental strategies that underpin them and to develop new ideas. Therefore written recording both helps pupils to clarify their thinking and supports and extends the development of more fluent and sophisticated mental strategies.

The overall aim is that when pupils leave primary school they:

  • Have a secure knowledge of number facts and a good understanding of the four operations;
  • Are able to use this knowledge and understanding to carry out calculations mentally and apply general strategies when using one-digit and two-digit numbers and particular strategies to special cases involving bigger numbers;
  • Make use of diagrams and informal notes to help record steps and part answers when using mental methods that generate more information than can be kept in their heads;
  • Have an efficient, reliable, compact written method of calculation for each operation that pupils can apply with confidence when undertaking calculations that they cannot carry out mentally.

The committee with oversight for this policy
Curriculum & Standards
Policy to be approved by the
Policy last reviewed by the Curriculum & Standards Committee
Policy last ratified and adopted by the Headteacher
Policy / Document due for review
March 2026