What is Maths Mastery?
Teaching maths for mastery is a transformational approach to maths teaching which stems from high performing Asian nations such as Singapore. When taught to master maths, children develop their mathematical fluency without resorting to rote learning and are able to solve non-routine maths problems without having to memorise procedures.
At a glance
- Evidence-based approach to teaching maths
- Helps pupils develop a deep, long-term and adaptable understanding of maths
- Inclusive approach where all children achieve
- Slower pace which results in greater progress
- Reflected in the 2014 English national curriculum for mathematics
- Endorsed by the Department for Education, NCETM and OFSTED
A new way of thinking and teaching
Whole class moves through content at the same pace
When teaching maths for mastery, the whole class moves through topics at broadly the same pace. Each topic is studied in depth and the teacher does not move to the next stage until all children demonstrate that they have a secure understanding of mathematical concepts.
Time to think deeply about the maths
Students are given time to think deeply about the maths and really understand concepts at a relational level rather than as a set of rules or procedures. This slower pace leads to greater progress because it ensures that students are secure in their understanding and teachers don’t need to revisit topics once they’ve been covered in depth.
Builds self-confidence in learners
In a traditional primary school maths lesson, children are put in different groups and given different content based on their anticipated ability. This means that from an early age children are classed as those who can and can’t “do maths”. Teaching maths for mastery is different because it offers all pupils access to the full maths curriculum. This inclusive approach, and its emphasis on promoting multiple methods of solving a problem, builds self-confidence and resilience in pupils.
Differentiates through depth rather than acceleration
Though the whole class goes through the same content at the same pace, there is still plenty of opportunity for differentiation. Unlike the old model, where advanced learners are accelerated through new content, those pupils who grasp concepts quickly are challenged with rich and sophisticated problems within the topic. Those children who are not sufficiently fluent are provided additional support to consolidate their understanding before moving on.
Basis for the 2014 National Curriculum For Maths
Teaching maths for mastery is a key plank of the Government’s education reforms and is reflected in the 2014 English national curriculum for mathematics. The NCETM, Department for Education and OFSTED have all endorsed this evidence-based approach which is a key part of the work within the Maths Hubs Programme.
Singapore Maths is a mastery approach to teaching which has produced a world-class level of achievement for many years. Singapore students scored first in the past three Trends in International Mathematics and Science Studies (TIMSS). These studies are conducted by the International Association for Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA). Singapore’s 4th and 8th grade students scored top place for Mathematics in 1995, 1999, 2003 and 2007.
The Department for Education, the National Centre for Excellence in Teaching Mathematics (NCETM), the National Curriculum Review Committee and OFSTED have all emphasised the pedagogy and heuristics developed in Singapore. Today, maths textbooks based on the Singapore Maths approach are being used in thousands of schools across the UK and have been widely adopted by the Department for Education’s Maths Hubs.