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Primary Mastery

What is teaching for mastery?

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 organisation that combine to give pupils the best chances of mastering maths. Achieving mastery means acquiring a solid enough understanding of the maths that has been taught to enable pupils to move on to more advanced material.

Effective teaching for mastery is underpinned by five big ideas. This is the diagram used to help bind these ideas together:















To find out more about what lies behind each idea, check out the NCETM website here.


How can I get involved?

The Teaching for Mastery Programme comprises a range of projects and activities at the heart of a Maths Hub's work. Below is the journey primary schools will take when participating in this programme:


Stage 1: Mastery Readiness

This is a one-year programme of workshops and school visits, designed for primary schools that want to adopt teaching for mastery in maths but would benefit from a staged approach. Teachers in participating schools receive bespoke support working towards an action plan drawn up by school leaders in conjunction with their Mastery Readiness Lead. Schools participating in this programme will be given priority when applying to join the Development Work Groups the following year and will benefit from two further years of support. There is no charge for participation in this programme. However, schools must ensure that staff are released to engage in the workshops and school visits, and that the headteacher attends events where appropriate.

Stage 2: Development Work Groups

In this one-year programme, two teachers from each participating school join a Work Group consisting of six or seven local primary schools. The Work Groups meet regularly to plan, observe and discuss teaching for mastery. In between meetings, teachers explore mastery approaches in their own classrooms and across their school. Support is provided from a local, classroom-based primary Mastery Specialist who leads the group. This model of professional development involves hands-on learning and peer-to-peer support. It is evidence-based and designed to support substantial long-term change. There is no charge for participation in this programme and schools receive £1,000 as a contribution to cover costs. They are also eligible to claim financial help towards the cost of buying maths textbooks.

Stage 3: Embedding Mastery

This one-year programme focuses on two key areas:

  • Embedding a teaching for mastery approach in each classroom across the whole school.

  • Securing a whole school approach to sustained change in mathematics.

For teaching for mastery to become embedded in schools there is a need to provide continued support for headteachers, senior leadership teams and maths leads. Through practice-based professional development activities, focusing on the development of whole-school organisational structures and systems, subject knowledge and a shared understanding of teaching for mastery, schools will embed a consistent approach to teaching for mastery in every classroom supported by change to structures within the school. Each Work Group, led by a primary Mastery Specialist, supports a group of six or seven schools who have already established a working relationship as part of a Development Work Group. There is no cost for participation in this programme.