An Introduction to Mastery

Future mathematical learning is built on solid foundations which do not need to be re-taught;

The essential idea behind ‘mastery’ is that all children need a deep understanding of the mathematics they are learning so that there is no need for separate catch-up programmes due to some children falling behind and children who, under other teaching approaches, can often fall a long way behind, are better able to keep up with their peers, so that gaps in attainment are narrowed whilst the attainment of all is raised.

Four ways in which the term Mastery is being used

  1. A mastery approach; a set of principles and beliefs.
    a belief that all pupils are capable of understanding and doing mathematics, given sufficient time.
  2. A mastery curriculum
    One set of mathematical concepts and big ideas for all.
  3. A set of pedagogic practices
    that keep the class working together on the same topic, whilst at the same time addressing the need for all pupils to master the curriculum. Challenge is provided through depth rather than acceleration into new content.
  4. Achieving mastery
    knowing ‘why’ as well as knowing ‘that’ and knowing ‘how.’

A Mastery Curriculum

  • All/most pupils can and will achieve
  • Keeping the class working together so that all can master mathematics
  • Development of deep mathematical knowledge
  • Development of both factual/procedural and conceptual fluency
  • Longer time on key topics

A pupil really understands a mathematical concept, idea or technique if he or she can:

  • describe it in his or her own words;
  • represent it in a variety of ways (e.g. using concrete materials, pictures and symbols – the CPA approach)
  • explain it to someone else;
  • make up his or her own examples (and non-examples) of it;
  • see connections between it and other facts or ideas;
  • recognise it in new situations and contexts;
  • make use of it in various ways, including in new situations.

The 5 Big Ideas can be seen in this diagram and explored further by clicking on each section.

Introduction to Mastery

Coherence (the 5 idea flows through the diagram)
Connecting new ideas to concepts that have already been understood, and ensuring that, once understood and mastered, new ideas are used again in next steps of learning, all steps being small steps

NCETM Mastery Microsite

with guidance and resources to support Teaching for Mastery

NAMA_5_five_myths of mastery

The EEF blog

by Professor Jeremy Hodgen – Chair of Mathematics Education at the UCL Institute of Education – led the evidence review underpinning the recent EEF guidance report, ‘Improving Mathematics at Key Stages 2 and 3. In this blog, he discusses the links between the guidance and mastery learning.

Fluency Mathematical Thinking Representation & Structure Variation