Classroom Mastery Approaches

Staff have high expectations for all children and they believe that all children have the ability to succeed.  All children within a year group are taught the same content at the same time but there may be opportunities for challenge for the rapid graspers and lessons are carefully designed to support all learners to access the maths.

Children will often work with a maths partner.  The partner is normally prechosen by the teacher in advance of the lesson.  The partnership should allow and encourage opportunities to develop reasoning skills but also learning skills such as speaking, listening, turn taking and co-operation.  This also provides an opportunity for children to demonstrate their understanding by explaining their learning.

At our school, we are developing a concrete, pictorial, abstract approach to develop a secure understanding of mathematical principles and ideas.  Throughout school all children will have the opportunity to use manipulatives such as Numicon, Base ten, place value counters, place value boards etc. to support learning.  Questions asked by the maths teacher will allow children to think deeper.  Manipulatives can be used to facilitate this.

A key feature of the teaching for mastery approach we are developing in our school is the precise design of lessons through use of CPA, modelling, pupil activities, practise questions and intelligent practice.  The arrangement of tasks and exercises aim to draw children’s’ attention to patterns, structure and mathematical relationships, therefore providing ‘intelligent practice’ and the opportunity to deepen conceptual understanding.

Lessons are carefully designed, often using small number, to ensure the maths concept is exposed.  Our lessons are built on the following principles of a mastery lesson:


  • Coherence – making connections so that steps are easier to take
  • Variation – procedural and conceptual
  • Representation and structure – carefully planned prior to the lesson
  • Mathematical thinking – chains of reasoning
  • Fluency – number and table facts

Class teachers intervene and provide feedback when a child/ children are having difficulty keeping up.  This may be within a lesson or at another time in the day.  There may also be occasions when children are pre-taught a concept prior to whole class teaching.  Rapid graspers are challenged by having opportunities to deepen their learning through carefully chosen challenges/ problem solving activities.

We teach reasoning through the ‘Expert Reasoner’.  This ensures that children have a progressive model to develop and refine their reasoning skills. 

All children have opportunities to solve problems, and these are carefully chosen to ensure that the children feel success, as research suggest that when you solve a problem, the brain rewards itself.  Getting the balance of challenge for problem solving is essential.