Mastery approach in teaching



We have a Maths Mastery Specialist who has been part of NCETM project since 2015. This approach strongly links with the National Curriculum which was introduced in 2014.  The Maths Mastery Specialist has trained all staff at Downs View to become experts in this way of teaching mathematics. He has provided outreach to train other leaders and teachers so that they will lead groups of teachers in their local area, to successfully implement mastery across all schools.

Why are we using this approach?

Mastery of Maths means a deep, long-term, secure and adaptable understanding of the subject of Maths.

This way of learning is something that we want pupils to acquire, so a ‘mastery Maths curriculum’ aims to help pupils, over time, acquire mastery of the subject.

There are a number of elements which will help children develop mastery of Maths;

  • fluency (rapid and accurate recall and application of facts and concepts)
  • a growing confidence to reason mathematically
  • the ability to apply Maths to solve problems and to test hypotheses

Mastery of Maths, which will build gradually as a child goes through school, is a tool for life, and immeasurably more valuable than the short term ability to answer questions in tests or exams.

We will take longer over each mathematical topic (shape, measure, addition etc.) so that early understanding is cemented deeply within each child.

Some Key features of this approach

There will be a significant amount of time devoted to developing basic number concepts. This is to build up children’s fluency as number awareness will affect their success in other areas of mathematics. Children who are successful with number are much more confident mathematicians. Please see here for the Maths Mastery Plan and Progression

Teaching for Mastery

A mastery approach to teaching and learning has been designed to support the aims and objectives of the National Curriculum.

A mastery approach:

  • has number at its heart. A large proportion of time is spent reinforcing number to build competency
  • ensures students have the opportunity to stay together as they work through the curriculum as a whole group.
  • sets challenges to extend pupils, ensuring that a depth and breadth of each key concept is gained.
  • provide plenty of time to build reasoning and problem solving elements into the curriculum.

Concrete – Pictorial – Abstract

All students, when introduced to a key new concept within Maths, will have the opportunity to build competency in this topic by taking the approach Concrete – Pictorial – Abstract, described below.

  • Concrete – children will have the opportunity to use concrete objects and manipulatives to help them understand what they are doing.
  • Pictorial – children will then build on this concrete approach by using pictorial representations. These representations can then be used to reason and solve problems.
  • Abstract – with the foundations firmly laid, children will be able to move to an abstract approach using numbers and key concepts with confidence.

Main Goal- Everyone Can Succeed

As a school we believe that all students can succeed in Mathematics. We do not believe that there are children who can do Maths and those that can’t. A positive mindset for mathematics and strong subject knowledge are key to children’s success in mathematics.

Our calculation policy has also been updated to explain the language used and approaches used which is below and can be downloaded here Calculation Policy 


At Downs View we are committed to foster children’s deep, long-term and adaptable understanding of the subject of maths. As a school we believe that all pupils can succeed in mathematics.


In our curriculum a significant amount of time is devoted to developing key number concepts each year. This is to build fluency, as number sense will affect pupil’s success in other areas of mathematics

  • We believe pupils must be given time to fully understand, explore and apply ideas – rather than accelerate through new concepts. This approach enables learners to truly grasp a concept, and the challenge comes from investigating it in new, alternative and more complex ways.
  • Children are encouraged to physically represent mathematical concepts. Objects and pictures are used to demonstrate and visualise abstract ideas, alongside numbers and symbols.
  • Mathematical concepts are explored in a variety of representations and problem-solving contexts to give pupils richer and deeper learning experiences.


  • Pupils will be able to represent a concept in multiple ways, use the sufficient mathematical language to communicate related ideas and can independently apply the concept to new problems in unfamiliar situations.
  • Pupils will have a positive mindset for mathematics and strong subject knowledge so that they can be successful in Mathematics and use this in real life situations.

See here for further information on How Number Operations are Taught