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Maths Mastery

Welcome to our new Mathematics Mastery area on the website, which will provide an interactive platform for parents, pupils and teachers. Here you will find: information about the curriculum and the objectives which are taught in each year group; our policies, practices and features of teaching; examples of learning and up to date activities; as well as: challenges and competitions which link to our twitter account and eagerly anticipated blog.


Arlies Primary School is at the forefront of the Mastery approach for teaching in this country. Throughout this last year, Miss Heaton has been leading these dynamic new elements in our own school and other schools in the North-West as part of her role as one of only 140 Primary Mathematics Mastery Specialists to receive training from the NCETM (National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics). Excitingly, this is developing expertise which was already prevalent at Arlies, since we have always had a strong focus on using a concrete-pictorial approach throughout school. For many years, we have had our own Mathematics specialist and Maths SLE coordinating maths and this work is now being enhanced with The Mastery approach for teaching- to ensure that all children in school can access the new curriculum confidently and make meaningful and sustainable links between their learning.


We are also excited to announce that Arlies Primary School will be being a host school for Shanghai teachers in the coming academic year and that Miss Heaton will be taking part in an exchange programme which will see her visit Shanghai and observe their teaching methods first-hand. This exciting development is all part of the recent government announcements concerning mathematics education in the UK.


The south Asian ‘mastery’ approach to teaching maths is set to become a

standard fixture in England’s primary schools, thanks to a major expansion announced by Schools Minister Nick Gibb today (Tuesday 12 July 2016).

So far 140 teachers from primary schools in England have been trained by the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM) to help schools adopt the mastery approach.

The investment of up to £41 million, to be spread over the next 4 years, will allow hundreds more to be trained. The expansion will be led by maths hubs - 35 school-led centres of excellence in maths teaching.

Mr Gibb will also discuss the initial findings of an evaluation of the Shanghai exchange scheme by Sheffield Hallam University, published today (12 July 2016).



The following link will allow you to read the full government report:




The Mastery-learning model forms the basis of our approach to traditional teaching. This means spending greater time going into depth about a subject as opposed to racing through the things that all children should know. Previously, racing through content as levelled objectives in the old curriculum, lead to some children having gaps in subject knowledge because the concept they had just learned was either too big or learned too quickly. As a primary school, it is our duty to ensure that children have an absolutely solid, concrete understanding of subject knowledge and skills as well as being emotionally resilient for secondary school.


Now, we all have the confidence to take learning at a steadier and deeper pace, ensuring that no child is left behind, as well as providing deeper and richer experiences for children who are above the national expectation for their age. We focus on all children achieving what is expected of their age group and not going beyond this. Evidence shows that children need to be able to understand a concept, apply it in a range of situations and then be creative to really understand it. Simply going beyond their age group does not guarantee they understand something, it just means they have heard it.


At our school no child will be taught content from the year group above them, they will spend time becoming true masters of content; applying and being creative with new knowledge and skills in multiple ways. 


In short, this means:

  • Teach less, learn more:less teacher talk but more focussed mathematical discussion and intelligent practise following a coherent learning journey
  • No child left behind:all children are enabled to keep up every day.
  • Space and timeto experience and apply, with all children entitled to additional support to ensure they do not fall behind or to go deeper
  • Understanding real lifeapplications wherever possible to make learning relevant and not abstract; nothing should be taught without a purpose.


All of this means that you may see a change in the way we teach and assess your child, most notably will be in how we organise your child’s learning and how we report their progress to you.


We will be doing more of this:

  • Teaching all children in class, together, most of the time
  • Verbal feedback during lessons with work in books often self-marked and corrected
  • Spending longer on one idea
  • Giving children who need it, additional support over shorter, more intense periods (pre-teach and same-day interventions)
  • Frequent short formative assessments which distinguish mastery and depth of learning with a few formal tests over the year


And less of this:

  • Formal marking with lots of written feedback and highlighting
  • Covering lots of ideas in one week
  • Formal, long term interventions to boost them out of class
  • Separating children into ability groups


This approach is seen as good practice.  It is promoted by the government and hailed as the best way to deliver the new national curriculum. Our current Mastery curriculum- which has been specifically developed for Arlies Primary school- has been agreed after a year of collaborative work in research groups between the teachers who work at Arlies Primary. Teacher research groups are used as a tool to enhance our own professional development and to ensure that the curriculum, and how it is taught, has rigour and meets the needs of all our children. In addition to this, it is also based on the NCETM’s (National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics) research into primary mathematics teaching in East Asian jurisdictions, especially Shanghai, and on the experience of English Primary schools, such as ourselves, involved in the China-England mathematics education research project. It is also led by a Mastery specialist representative from the Maths Hub projects. It is fully consistent with the Primary National Curriculum in England. There are parent videos available within this maths area, which introduce the new text books we are using in school and give further detail about the mastery approach and how it will enhance your child’s learning and development. If you have any further questions about the maths curriculum, please feel free to make an appointment to discuss it further.