Best Practice

Teaching for mastery: Changing mindsets in maths

Using the teaching for mastery approach in maths has led to deep, long-term, secure and adaptable understanding of the subject. Assistant headteacher John Canavan explains

For those who may be unfamiliar with the concept, or just embarking on a journey around it, maths mastery is a teaching and learning approach that aims for pupils to develop deep understanding of maths rather than being able to memorise key procedures or resort to rote learning.

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.

As stated by the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM), “achieving mastery means acquiring a solid understanding of the maths that has been taught to enable pupils to move on to more advanced material”. There are five big ideas, drawn from research evidence, which underpin teaching for mastery:

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