What is the Teaching for Mastery Programme?

The NCETM and Maths Hubs have been running the national Primary Teaching for Mastery Programme since 2015, and now secondary schools have also become involved with teaching for mastery.

In the first year, 136 schools from all over England each nominated a teacher to begin training as a Primary Mastery Specialist. The teachers were given a year’s intensive training in the principles of teaching for mastery, underpinned by its ‘Five Big Ideas’, and in professional development leadership. In the following year, they further developed teaching for mastery in their own schools. And they shared the approach with neighbouring schools by leading Teaching for Mastery Work Groups.

In each subsequent year, a new cohort of Primary Mastery Specialists has been trained, increasing the pool of specialists leading Work Groups of local schools. By summer 2019, more than 5,000 schools have participated in the Teaching for Mastery Programme. Hundreds of thousands of children are now benefitting from a changed experience of maths learning at school. The programme is now open to all state-funded Primary and Secondary schools in England. 

More information about the Primary Teaching for Mastery Programme and its impact can be found in the NCETM’s Primary Teaching for Mastery progress report published in July 2019.  The short video below, whilst made in 2018, explains exactly what the Teaching for Mastery Programme is:  

Peter Halford
Executive Academy Head
Drake’s C of E Primary School &
Cheriton Bishop Primary School

Jurassic Maths Hub Teaching for Mastery Opportunties:

When the recruitment window is open, information and a chance to apply, can be found by clicking one of the phases below:

The Five Big Ideas underpin teaching for mastery in both primary and secondary schools.

  • Maths teaching for mastery rejects the idea that a large proportion of people ‘just can’t do maths’.
  • All pupils are encouraged by the belief that by working hard at maths they can succeed.
  • Pupils are taught through whole-class interactive teaching, where the focus is on all pupils working together on the same lesson content at the same time, as happens in Shanghai and several other regions that teach maths successfully. This ensures that all can master concepts before moving to the next part of the curriculum sequence, allowing no pupil to be left behind.
  • If a pupil fails to grasp a concept or procedure, this is identified quickly and early intervention ensures the pupil is ready to move forward with the whole class in the next lesson.
  • Lesson design identifies the new mathematics that is to be taught, the key points, the difficult points and a carefully sequenced journey through the learning.
  • Procedural fluency and conceptual understanding are developed in tandem because each supports the development of the other.
  • It is recognised that practice is a vital part of learning, but the practice used is intelligent practice that both reinforces pupils’ procedural fluency and develops their conceptual
  • Significant time is spent developing deep knowledge of the key ideas that are needed to underpin future learning. The structure and connections within the mathematics are emphasised, so that pupils develop deep learning that can be sustained.
  • Key facts such as multiplication tables are learnt to automaticity to avoid cognitive overload in the working memory and enable pupils to focus on new concepts.

A Primary School Journey:

(click/tap diagram to show a larger version with more detail of the journey).

The first two stages of the Primary Mastery Programme are Mastery Readiness (Preparatory) and the Development Work Groups. These are then followed by the Embedding and Sustaining years.  Clink of the image and/or links above for a more detailed breakdown. 

Secondary Mastery Specialists are now also being trained, and hundreds of secondary schools are starting to develop teaching for mastery approaches, especially at KS3.  The first stage/year of the Secondary Mastery Programme is the Development Work Group, which is laid out below.

A Secondary School Journey:

All of the 40 Maths Hubs across England offer professional development to help teachers develop a mastery approach in their own classroom, department and school. Any teacher or school wishing to take part in a Teaching for Mastery Work Group should get in touch.  We will be able to advise which Work Group is most suitable and when the next round of recruitment is open.


What other information is available?

  • The Jurassic Maths Hub have previously run various innovative Work Groups to support the teaching for mastery approach, click HERE to find out more.
  • For further information and a more detailed look at Teaching for Mastery please visit the NCETM website.