Mastery approach in teaching Mathematics in year 1

As you may be aware we have been trialling new teaching techniques for Mathematics within Year 1. This new method of teaching is called “Teaching for Mastery in Mathematics”. This approach links strongly with the updated National Curriculum which was introduced in 2014.

As from September 2015, 140 primary school teachers are being trained to become experts in this way of teaching mathematics. They will then lead groups of teachers in their local area, to successfully implement mastery across all schools.

We have been chosen to be one of these schools which will train other schools and lead the development of this teaching approach.

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 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.

Why this approach now?

There’s nothing new about the desire among teachers to help children develop deep understanding of a subject. But the widespread use of the word ‘mastery’ in relation to Maths teaching and Maths learning is relatively new.

Some of the implications of adopting mastery approaches to teaching Maths are new. One of these is the move away from labelling pupils as ‘high ability’ or ‘low ability’ and children will no longer be given different tasks in a lesson.

Another is the approach itself which will reduce the amount of mathematical topics handled in a year. We will now 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.

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.