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Mathematics: SMIRFS

North Yorkshire Progression in Instant Recall

‘Instant Recall Mission’




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




This is an 11 stage system of instant recall with between 6 and 9 targets within each stage. The targets are all aspects that should be being taught regularly in school anyway so do not form new content.  The system is about a rigorous and systematic approach to making sure that ALL children have good instant recall.  The stages are not linked to year groups as the progression is about building each child’s instant recall systematically.


The stages are as follows:

  1. Astronaut selection
  2. Launch pad
  3. Mercury
  4. Venus
  5. Earth
  6. Mars
  7. Jupiter
  8. Saturn
  9. Uranus
  10. Neptune
  11. The Milky Way


After initial assessment (see below), each child is started on the system at an appropriate stage (children starting in FS/Y1 start at the beginning).  They have their own record and work through the system at their own pace.  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.

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