At Aureus Primary, we are moving towards adopting a mastery approach in the learning and teaching of mathematics. As things stand, this is being embedded most in the Early Years and Key Stage 1. The main aim of such an approach is to ensure that our children develop deep knowledge of mathematical concepts, so that those pupils beginning their education at school do not develop gaps in their learning over time.
As a result of this approach being taken, it is likely that those undertaking learning walks and/or monitoring lessons will see more whole-class teaching than may have been evident before the implementation of the new national curriculum. Where a mastery approach is being taken, pupils progress through curriculum content at the same pace, although support/intervention is used to move groups of children on so that they are able to:
Ø Grasp concepts and methods, e.g. through more varied use of practical equipment – in the case of lower attainers
Ø Be challenged through exposure to greater depth in their learning, e.g. through tackling more complex problems in a different context - in the case of higher attainers/rapid graspers
As a result, differentiation is sometimes likely to appear more subtle than before, however, it should be noted that varied use of practical resources/models and images, plus questioning that requires deeper reasoning is used to ensure that all children are supported/challenged appropriately. Practise and consolidation play a central role in pupils’ learning experiences. Although the ‘pace’ in lessons may appear to be slow, this could mask development of deep understanding of mathematical concepts. Further challenge is provided to all children through use of problem solving, which may or may not be linked with a real-life context.
Despite starting to develop a mastery approach in the learning and teaching of mathematics, we are aware that children will have gaps in their pre-requisite knowledge. Consequently, our medium term planning has been designed to take into account where changes in the national curriculum have taken place. Medium term planning is also likely to show longer being spent on each topic where mastery is becoming an integral part of the system, so that greater depth is enabled. In lessons, teachers use precise questioning to check conceptual and procedural knowledge. They formatively assess in lessons to identify who requires intervention, meaning that all pupils keep up. Intervention is focused on ensuring that pupils are helped to keep up by revisiting concepts and/or being provided with prior learning in advance of lessons.
Whilst a transition from the old to new national curriculum remains in its earlier stages, we have chosen to adopt a new summative assessment system titled ‘Pupil Asset’ (PA). Children are assessed against how well they have understood a range of both key objectives and other objectives from the new national curriculum. Such assessment links with day-to-day assessment for learning, which informs teachers about which elements of learning children need to develop. In order for the mastery approach to work, we understand the particular need for children to achieve key objectives for their current stage of learning. The attainment and progress of children’s learning is tracked by class teachers and senior leaders, so that swift interventions can be put into place, including for pupils who have not always experienced a mastery approach in mathematics.