‘Maths Mastery’ what exactly is it?

Note, there is now a second part to this post

I’m thinking about my vision for leading a maths department. I wonder if ‘maths mastery’ is the way to go for the curriculum. It seems to have been advocated by many people I respect, but I’m not sure in what form.

The NCETM has a definition of what is meant by the use of the term ‘mastery’. It includes a couple of banalities:

  • ‘Maths teaching for mastery rejects the idea that a large proportion of people ‘just can’t do maths.’ Well, who suggested they couldn’t?
  • ‘All pupils are encouraged by the belief that by working hard at maths they can succeed.’ Again, would anyone actually argue against this?

There is an organisation called Mathematics Mastery. They identify themselves as being ‘dedicated to transforming mathematics education in the UK’. This seems to be an unhelpful identification, transforming something is pretty meaningless. They could transform maths education from being effective to being ineffective, although I don’t think this is their intention. I would ask, what to they think they are transforming maths education from, and what do they intend to transform it to?

The executive director of Mathematics Mastery is Dr Helen Drury. In Dr Drury’s blog, there is the following definition: ‘A mastery curriculum is one where all pupils learn what is expected’. 

The post goes on to attempt a more sustained clarification of what Mathematics Mastery is:

“In high-performing countries the intention is to provide all learners with full access to the curriculum, enabling them to achieve confidence and competence – ‘mastery’ – in mathematics’.

Everyone is entitled to:

  • deep and sustainable learning
  • learning that can be built upon
  • learning that can be reasoned about
  • learning that’s connected”

I am not trying to find fault, but again I have to ask, in what type of school are these not the expectations?

In all the definitions of Maths Mastery that I have seen so far, I think that as a point de capiton ‘Mathematics Mastery’ could be substituted for ‘maths teaching’ .

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4 thoughts on “‘Maths Mastery’ what exactly is it?

  1. Disagree with point 1, everybody can do maths ‘to a degree’ (that isn’t a degree in maths) and for some they finish at fractions, others negatives, yet more at algebra and so on. Underlying intelligence is what determines how far they get which links into my disagreement with point 2, hard work will only get you a little way, it won’t make me Andrew Wiles and it won’t make a person with low ‘g’ a mathematical genius.

    This however isn’t giving up and we need to invest time in the ways that best allow all pupils to shine.

    Liked by 1 person

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