A Mastery approach to Maths
At West Hove Infants School, we have high expectations for every child and we believe that every child can succeed at Maths. Teaching for mastery in Maths is essentially the expectation that all pupils will gain a deep understanding of the maths they are learning.
What does mastery mean?
‘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.’
West Hove Infants maths journey
We use a teaching for mastery in mathematics approach in EYFS and KS1. This approach links with the updated National Curriculum which was introduced in 2014.
We are also participating in the Mastery Teacher Research Group, which is funded by National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM).
Participating in this research group will provide us with the opportunity to collaborate with a range of primary schools to further develop ‘Teaching for Mastery’ in maths throughout Sussex.
Maths in our school
EYFS Teacher – “Since we started teaching for mastery the children have developed a much stronger understanding of number, which has allowed them to make further progress in more complex tasks. This new approach has allowed us to teach in a way that breaks down maths objectives into the smallest steps. This ensures every pupil is secure in every new concept before moving on!”
EYFS Child – “I like the challenges in our classroom. It’s fun to green and orange our teachers work because sometimes she gets it wrong. She’s really happy when we help her.”
EYFS Child – “The activities are soooo fun. It’s not just boring like 1,2,3,4. We get to use toys and other maths things when we learn and I like it when I can do the ‘star challenge’ because I feel really proud of myself.
Maths in Year 1 and 2
2 Teacher Quotes
Year 2 Teacher – “In each of our lessons we aim to develop the children’s fluency, reasoning and problem solving skills. The children have opportunities to work independently and as part of a team. Explaining our ideas to one another helps us all to learn and it feels like we have 1 teacher and 30 little teachers in the classroom now!”
Year 1 Teacher – Since the introduction of Mastery the children are far more confident at being able to explain how they know what the answer is. They are using complex language and feel more equipped to be able to challenge each other and even myself as the teacher if they don’t agree with the answer. The whole class believe they are really good at Maths which is brilliant for self-esteem.
Year 2 – “I love all the challenges in maths because sometimes they are really difficult and I like to solve problems with my working out”
Year 1 – “Maths is great because I get to learn new things. I like getting challenges”
Professor Prove It!
Year 2 – “Professor Prove It wants us to explain why. This helps us to understand our learning more.”
Year 2 – “They help me because we discuss things together. Sometimes my challenge partner says something I don’t know and this helps me to learn.”
Year 2 – “I like to work my with challenge partner because it makes me think that we are going to get the answer correct more easily. I know this because we work hard together.”
Year 1- “We never give up in Maths, we work with our challenge partner to solve problems and its fun!”
Year 1 – “I love numicon because you get to make numbers and then draw them. I always double check on a numberline.”
Year 2 – “My favourite subject is maths because I have grown up knowing lots about it and at school we get challenges to make my brain bigger. I would obviously like to do more challenges at play time if I could!”
Children learn a new concept or skills by using concrete apparatus to act it out. For example, when exploring addition (3+3=), we will count out the correct amount of toy animals and then add them up altogether. This is an ‘action-based’ approach and it is the basis for conceptual understanding.
This image-based approach is used once a child has sufficiently understood the hands-on experiences performed. An example of this is when a teacher uses a diagram or picture to teach the problem. You can see here for the addition (4+5=) we have drawn 4 cupcakes and 5 ice-creams to add them together. We also use numicon pictures to help children build piece together their understanding of numberbonds.
This is known as the symbolic stage and is often considered the most confusing way of the three. Here, children record their mathematics using symbols such as =, +, x. Without the ‘hands on’ and pictorial steps, this can be tricky for children to understand.
Mastery is achieved if children can use all modes of representations going back and forth between the representations. Some children may have a preferred method of working out maths.
The Early Years Foundation Stage is the statutory framework we teach to all children in our Reception classes.