A Mastery Approach
We have made quite dramatic changes to the way maths is taught at Chetwynd Primary Academy over the last 18 months. Our journey began after attending a Mastery conference in Birmingham in May 2015. Head teachers shared their experiences with the ‘Mastery Approach’ to teaching maths at Primary level and the enormous impact it had. We were particularly inspired by hearing Debbie Morgan and Ban Har Yeap speaking on the idea of all children being mathematicians with a solid conceptual understanding rather than children who learn mathematical procedures.
The idea that every child can be exposed to Maths appropriate to their age regardless of ability is one that many would argue is unrealistic. However, for years we have watched gaps develop in the achievement of the children in our classes as they move through the school. We will never close this gap if we never expose our children to maths appropriate to their age and consistently set low expectations with our differentiation. With our Mastery approach, we have seen children with Special Educational Needs for Maths answer questions that historically, they would never have been exposed to. We have removed the ceiling on their achievement and their confidence and self-esteem has grown as they move at the same pace as their classmates. This has had a huge impact on all of our staff members, who have made dramatic changes in terms of teaching and learning as a result. More importantly, we have seen a huge impact on our children in terms of their attitude towards Maths, their conceptual understanding and their willingness to explore and investigate. We believe every child has the right to feel this way about Maths.
With an NCETM accredited Primary Maths Mastery Specialist within the school, we are in a great position to continue to spread and model the ideas and the strategies involved. We can make this dream of every child being a mathematician, a reality.
What does Mastery look like at Chetwynd?
We are using ‘Maths - No Problem’ Singapore style books to plan and teach our maths lessons. The only way to achieve mastery is to build upon a solid foundation of conceptual understanding and procedural fluency. To ensure a good level of understanding, it is necessary to move through the curriculum at a different pace to previous years. Children will spend much longer on certain areas to fully embed the concept before moving on rather than how they were historically taught by spending approximately 1 - 2 weeks on each area, each term. We explicitly teach each topic once throughout the year but these areas of maths are met continuously through our representations and lead in stories in other maths lessons. Therefore nothing is truly taught in isolation.