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19th June 2017 - Lynne’s logic - Place Value

Numeracy Blog

Welcome to everyone, hopefully now in a more relaxed mood post SATs, Welsh National tests and GCSEs. Looking forward to the summer holidays, I hope. A shorter blog this time, but on a subject that we at Catch Up® realise is increasingly causing confusion and concern. Place value and, specifically, the correct terminology to use with learners; is it tens and units, or tens and ones?

Unfortunately, what appears to be causing the confusion is a geographical difference, particularly between England and Wales, and a resulting difference of opinion in terminology. Because there is no agreement, Catch Up® has kept its original paperwork rather than change it, leaving deliverers the option to change units to ones as needed – dependent upon the policy on where you are teaching. Let’s have a closer look at England and Wales and you will understand the problem; I will go alphabetically and begin with England.

If we look firstly at the document published in September 2013, ‘Mathematics programmes of study: key stages 1 and 2, National curriculum in England’, we find at year 2 “…. recognise the place value of each digit in a two-digit number (tens, ones).” Quite clear, no mention of units. In the updated statutory guidance, ‘National curriculum in England: mathematics programmes of study’ (the updated version from July 2014), we have “…. recognise the place value of each digit in a two-digit number (10s, 1s).” Unfortunately, there is no use of the word ‘ones’ but the intention is clear: Hundreds, Tens and Ones.

Looking at the place value charts currently offered as resources for use in England, the headings are the full words ‘Tens’ (or tens) and ‘Ones’ (or ones), or numerical 10s and 1s.

Now to Wales. The ‘Foundation Phase Framework (Revised 2015)’ is equally clear on its terminology, “… demonstrate an understanding of place value, e.g. one 10 and four units equal 14, up to at least 20.” In respect of older children, the only relevant reference in the ‘Programme of Study for Mathematics Key Stages 2–4’ is “…explain the value of a digit in numbers up to 1 000”, with no reference to ones or units. However, on the Welsh Government Hwb site, the terminology used on place value resources throughout is units, and this means that in Wales, HTU should be used.

So whether you use units or ones will depend totally on where you teach, and this is why Catch Up® decided not to change its Catch Up® Numeracy paperwork from units to ones. Instead, we leave you the option of tweaking any resources as necessary.

For colleagues in Wales, who use units and have the luxury of the abbreviated form, just a few tips:

  • There are some conventions on abbreviations. Whole numbers should begin with upper case whilst fractions with lower case. The resources on Hwb use the first version below, HTH etc. However, an older version which may also be in use, uses HTh etc., which is also shown.

  • The numerical version tends to use plural, e.g. 10s; the word version, however, may or may not use plural, e.g. tenth or tenths. Your school may have a policy on this to ensure consistency.

  • What is important is that learners do not solely use words, but also use and understand the numerical equivalent, which is shown in the second row.

  • Certificates
  • If using Maths books with squares, I always taught that the decimal point should not take up a square, and encouraged learners to get into the habit of putting it on the line between Units and tenths, not in a space of its own (as exemplified in the chart above.) However, you will find resources where this is not the case and, again, you should follow whatever is the policy of your school so there is consistency.

It is always more difficult when there is not a definitive version, however, learners need to become flexible and understand that sometimes there may be more than one term for the same concept, e.g. add, plus, increase, or corners, angles, vertices. Remember that your school policy is very important in giving you an agreed decision, because schools want terminology for their learners to be consistent.

I hope this blog helps you understand the dilemma faced by Catch Up®, and explains why HTU remain in the resources. We also hope that you will now be confident to tweak any resources as necessary!

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