This term in Junior School we have revamped our mathematics curriculum and embraced a mastery approach to learning. Using a concrete, pictorial, abstract approach to teaching. This is supported by the latest research into how students learn and are already proving to be a success with teachers and students.
However, I can hear many of you asking what is ‘mastery’ and how does it benefit my child. The National Centre for Excellence in Mathematics defines mastery as:
‘Mastering maths means pupils acquiring a deep, long-term, secure and adaptable understanding of the subject.
The phrase ‘teaching for mastery’ describes the elements of classroom practice and school organization that combine to give pupils the best chances of mastering maths.
Achieving mastery means acquiring a solid enough understanding of the maths that’s been taught to enable pupils to move on to more advanced material.’ (https://www.ncetm.org.uk/resources/49450 25/11/2019)
The deeper understanding developed through a mastery approach helps students to retain the knowledge they have learned. Through teaching fewer topics each year, students are able to gain a greater depth of knowledge and retain this understanding. As the curriculum spirals both during the year and throughout the junior school. All areas of mathematics are still covered and developed at age-appropriate times. While providing students with the opportunity to progress as a class.
Embracing a mastery approach involves undertaking a set of principles and beliefs. Inclusive of a belief that all pupils are capable of understanding and doing mathematics, given appropriate time. Pupils are neither ‘born with the maths gene’ nor ‘just no good at maths’. With good teaching, appropriate resources, effort and a ‘can do’ attitude all children can achieve in and enjoy mathematics. (Mike Askew et al; Teaching for Mastery 2015)
The benefits of this approach are already being realized by the students, who have engaged fully with their learning this term. I have personally witnessed students become more enthusiastic learners, who believe they are capable mathematicians. This self-belief, developed through the concrete, pictorial, abstract approach is leading to excellent progress.
While it is important to reflect on the good progress we have made as a school it is also important to look forward to the next step. A continued target for all students is to build their number skills as knowing number bonds and times tables by heart is a key aspect of the mastery approach. As well as building confidence with problem-solving and reasoning skills. Maths problems related to real-life help to bring our learning into context and are a key element of the curriculum we are delivering in the Junior School. Moving forward we aim to bring these skills into our everyday teaching, ensuring your child is provided with an enriching, purposeful mathematics curriculum.