The essential idea behind mastery is that all children need a deep understanding of the mathematics they are learning.
A New Way Of Thinking And Teaching
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.