There has been a lot of changes in the teaching of maths at a national level over the last few years. At St. Peter's we have been working hard to implement these changes and the new approach is now embedded throughout the school. 'Maths mastery' is not a scheme of work or published set of lessons - it's a way of teaching. It's built around the idea that ALL children can achieve - some at greater depth. We have outlined the main principles below:
We have always had a strong emphasis on catering for the needs of every individual child which was achieved through differentiation with different groups working at different levels. Now the emphasis is on keeping the class together until specific concepts or skills are mastered and then moving on together. This does not mean that some children will be left behind or others not challenged. Differentiation is now achieved through intervention for slower learners and deeper understanding for more able pupils.
Those children that have not met the expected outcomes or have gaps in their understanding, will be helped by receiving short, immediate extra time on maths outside of the maths lesson. We have dedicated staff who work closely with teachers to deliver these sessions. Sometimes the child needs to approach the skill a different way - or they need to handle concrete equipment in order to grasp the concept. Sometimes parents will be engaged in this process and will be asked to practice a specific skill at home.
For those children that have mastered the skill, concept or procedure they will be presented with higher order thinking activities, rather than accelerating through the curriculum. They will be encouraged to apply the skills to reasoning and problem solving tasks.
Within mastery the idea is to focus on mathematical structures instead of learned procedures. Children are encouraged to develop a strong understanding of the number system and develop alternative ways to solve one problem. Parents should ask their child to explain methods or strategies rather than demonstrate their own method which they learned at school. Each small step is important as it builds towards deep understanding of a concept. Parents providing alternative ‘tricks’ or techniques are likely to confuse the learning, especially if the child doesn't understand WHY it works.
Teachers' planning will be dependant on the progress being made and the needs of the class. Once the teacher is satisfied that a child has the necessary skills, he/she will be given lots of practice. This will be followed by application of these skills to real life situations or multi step problems. Children working at greater depth will be encouraged to develop reasoning skills which may require the child to combine several different skills. Children may move through this process more quickly in some topics than others. They will NOT be working in defined 'high, low and middle ability' groups. Grouping is fluid according to individual needs.