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Fern Hill Primary School

Fern Hill Primary School


Maths Mastery at Fern Hill 

What is Mastery?

The Department for Education (DfE) has added weight and focus to a child’s ability to apply their learning – this is called Mastery. Mastery is how a child can apply much of the curriculum as a whole in more complex and in‐depth, cross‐objective, multi‐modal methods. It demonstrates how skilfully a child can apply their learning. Mastery is not just knowing a fact, but it is using that fact in increasingly more complex situations.

A child with better Mastery will score higher in the DfE's new 2016 tests than a child with lower Mastery, even if they know the same content.

How have the 2016 End of Key Stage 1 and 2 assessments changed?

The 2016 Test materials for Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 will be significantly different from previous testing arrangements ‐ in particular in how the most able children will be 'stretched'.

From 2016, the Tests in Year 6 will be designed to not include questions of objectives beyond Y6; similarly, the Year 2 assessments will not include questioning of objectives beyond Y2.

This means the DfE is expecting more able pupils to demonstrate their abilities and understanding by applying what they know in more complex and multi‐layered questions.



Examples of Mastery and Outstanding Learning


Outstanding Learner

We teach a child some number facts to ten, which they succeed in learning.

A week later, we work with them on number facts ‐ the child can recall the facts fluently, and when introduced to the concept of flipping or reversing the facts, grasps this and uses it to write out a string of 'new' facts in the classroom's number corner independently.

When asked a challenging problem about the facts, combining these new number facts with some work on addition, they can solve it independently.

The child is using these facts in different orders to solve problems.

The child is combining and enhancing their work based on applying their knowledge from across the subject.

We teach a child some number facts to ten, which they succeed in learning.

Before you finish the lesson, this child is teaching their partner some backward number facts using some number blocks.

After the weekend, this child comes to school with an idea ‐ they have been discussing the number facts with Teddy at home and found that if you reverse the facts, they answer the questions on missing numbers we did last week. They ask if the teacher knew this?

The child is independently using these facts and combining them with other facts to solve problems.

This child is combining their learning in creative contexts and independently developing their own learning.

Certain principles and features characterise the Mastery approach:

  • Teachers reinforce an expectation that all pupils are capable of achieving high standards in mathematics.
  • The large majority of pupil’s progress through the curriculum content at the same pace. Differentiation is achieved by emphasising deep knowledge and through individual support and intervention.
  • Teaching is underpinned by methodical curriculum design and supported by carefully crafted lessons and resources to foster deep conceptual and procedural knowledge.
  • Practice and consolidation play a central role. Carefully designed variation within this builds fluency and understanding of underlying mathematical concepts in tandem.
  • Teachers use precise questioning in class to test conceptual and procedural knowledge, and assess pupils regularly.

At Fern Hill all children will be taught Maths using the approach and philosophy of ‘Mastery’ linked to the Singapore approach. Children will all be given the opportunity to practice three main skills which underlie Maths:

1. Fluency - pupils have time to practice aspects of Maths (not only number) and become efficient, accurate and flexible with the correct Maths tools

We think that the key to mathematical fluency is in making connections/relationships, and making them at the right time in a child’s learning.

We believe fluency demands more of children than memorising a single procedure. The children need to understand why they are doing what they are doing and know when it is appropriate to use different methods.

2. Reasoning - pupils have the opportunity to both provide both verbal and written explanations to share their thought processes in Maths

We think that reasoning is fundamental to knowing and doing maths.

We believe reasoning enables children to make use of all their other mathematical skills and vocabulary.

We find it helpful to explain reasoning as the ‘glue’ that helps maths makes sense.

3. Problem Solving - applying their mathematics to a variety of routine and non-routine problems with increasing sophistication, including breaking down problems into a series of simpler steps and persevering in seeking solutions

We think that becoming a competent and confident problem solver is central to the mathematical development of all learners.

We believe that we should strive to put problem solving at the heart of our maths teaching – it shouldn’t be an optional extra for Friday afternoons or a special activity to be done when children have finished everything else.

We think that becoming confident and competent as a problem solver is a complex process that requires a range of skills and experiences.

You can find out more about Maths Mastery on the National Centre for Excellence in Teaching Mathematics (NCETM) website here.

Can you work out which questions are aimed more at: Fluency in Maths, Reasoning or Problem Solving?


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