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Space Mission

Dear Parents and Carers,

One of our curricular priorities this year is around improving achievement in maths, specifically developing children’s mental mathematics skills (their instant recall). This week, we are launching new systematic approach to this:

Maths Passports – North Yorkshire Space Agency


Instant recall is one important part of learning mathematics. It gives children a bank of knowledge from which they can draw to help them when working with maths in a range of situations.

Research shows that learning key facts ‘by heart’ enables children to concentrate on the calculation which helps them to develop calculation strategies. Using and applying strategies to work out answers helps children to acquire and so remember more facts. Many children who are not able to recall key facts often treat each calculation as a new one and have to return to first principles to work out the answer again. Once they have a secure knowledge of some key facts, and by selecting problems carefully, you can help children to appreciate that from the answer to one problem, other answers can be generated.

Teaching Children to Calculate Mentally, Department for Education, 2010


We are launching an 11 stage system of instant recall, each stage being represented by a planet (‘astronaut selection’ or ‘launch pad’ in the early stages). The aim is for children to work through the solar system, rigorously and systematically embedding their instant recall facts along the way. Your child’s teacher will assess the stage at which your child will begin their journey.

The stages are as follows:

1. Astronaut selection

7. Jupiter

2. Launch pad

8. Saturn

3. Mercury

9. Uranus

4. Venus

10. Neptune

5. Earth

11. The Milky Way

6. Mars



In school, children have their own record and work through the system at their own pace, directed by their teacher; it is not linked to year-group or age, but allows a child to progress onto the next stage when facts in their current stage are firmly embedded.

At each stage they have a range of targets to be working on at any one time but do not move onto the next stage until they have completed all of the targets within each stage. Children will be given opportunities at school to practice their instant recall facts with some systematic and challenging approaches.


Definition of instant recall

For the purposes of this system, instant recall is defined as being able to recall any fact within 3 seconds. Therefore it is reasonably expected to be able to recall 10 facts within 30 seconds and so on. Children will be assessed three times against each target to ensure that the facts are embedded over time and have not just been stored in the short-term memory.

They are required to score 100% on each assessment for the fact to be fully embedded. You will appreciate that this requires children to work hard to embed facts, and there are many ways in which you can help them at home

How you can help…

Today your child will have come home with an overview of the instant recall system (from Astronaut Selection through to the Milky Way). It will be highlighted to indicate the targets which they are expected to practice at home and complete in school.


Some children will move through the stages more quickly than others, especially as we are focussing on embedding these facts rather than holding them to memory for a short time. It may take many months, even years for some children to move on, but the learning taking place during the process will be invaluable.

The quickest you could ever expect anyone to move through one stage would be 6 weeks, but this would mean simultaneously learning all the facts for that stage and completing flawless assessments over that time.

Like any system, the consistency and rigour of its application will be key to its success and we appreciate your support with this at home. If you have any questions about these targets, please do not hesitate to contact me or your child’s class teacher.



Many thanks for your continued support,




Mr D Manning

Assistant Headteacher and Maths Subject Leader

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