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Mastery Explained - what mastery means

Created on 08 September 2016 by ncetm_administrator
Updated on 17 October 2018 by ncetm_administrator

Since mastery is what we want pupils to acquire (or go on acquiring), rather than teachers to exhibit, we use the phrase ‘teaching for mastery’ to describe the range of elements of classroom practice and school organisation that combine to give pupils the best chances of mastering mathematics.

And mastering maths means acquiring a deep, long-term, secure and adaptable understanding of the subject. At any one point in a pupil’s journey through school, achieving mastery is taken to mean acquiring a solid enough understanding of the maths that’s been taught to enable him/her move on to more advanced material.

  • The essential elements of maths teaching for mastery in the primary school context are contained in this paper, published in June 2016. A version of this paper, putting it in the secondary school context, was produced collectively, by teachers on the Maths Hubs Secondary Mastery Specialists programme in 2016/17, and the NCETM’s stance on how secondary schools organise their maths classes was spelt out here in autumn 2018.
  • Much of the NCETM's work with teachers has been based on Five Big Ideas underpinning teaching for mastery.
  • The NCETM’s early thinking about teaching for mastery was first contained in this paper, from autumn 2014.
  • The NCETM’s Director for Primary Debbie Morgan has given numerous presentations to audiences across England. This one, to a group of teachers and heads in North Lincolnshire, took place in December 2015.
  • This video shows a teaching for mastery workshop in March 2016 attended by teachers and heads from Cheshire.
  • Several blog posts by the NCETM’s Director Charlie Stripp deal with aspects of teaching for mastery, in the primary and secondary phases.



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