Maths ‘Mastery’ Method explained!

mathsSo, if you ‘have’ to teach Maths to anyone under the age of 11, how did the news of having to change the way you do it sound?  Wonderful?  Or not particularly fun at all?

I have been telling anyone that will listen (so nobody that has known me long then!) that I find the fact that it is OK to say ‘I’m just not a Maths person’ utterly depressing.  In fact I wrote a blog about Maths a while ago, and deliver a whole course about why everyone should love like Maths (for Early Years).  And now, with the announcement of the mastery method roll out, maybe we are starting to get somewhere (probably not through my efforts alone).

For anyone who isn’t sure, using the ‘mastery’ method works like this – you teach the whole class together.

Does that need a bit more information?

Currently, we differentiate Maths lessons in a very odd way.  Children who are struggling with Maths often have to work through easier or fewer problems.  Children that are deemed to be doing well are given more to complete, or possibly move on to the next thing.  All this does is create a bigger and bigger void between the strongest and the weakest mathematicians.  Not to mention that children know which group they are in (for anyone that used to work with me – they know they are in the strawberry group!) and this just means they go away thinking ‘I’m not very good at Maths’.

Not only that, but Maths is a very hierarchical subject, if you can’t do one bit, chances are you are going to struggle with the next bit without some support of those foundations.  So the children who grasp Maths slower, just get further and further behind.  The mastery method is so simple, I find it had to believe that it’s going to cost £41 million to roll out (maybe to buy new textbooks?).  You really do just teach everyone the same thing, at the same time.  All you then do is make sure to support the students who aren’t getting it (going to these students first – the able ones can ‘work it out for themsleves’) – making sure to keep everyone together.

All the group doing one thing has to be less scary than small groups of children doing different things right?  Not to mention all that planning time you can save from only having to think up one version of each activity – it’s almost like you can spend your time in the classroom, teaching the children…

But seriously, if we do want to try to close the gap in mathematical attainment, I believe that the ‘mastery’ method is the best way of doing this.  Lets just hope that the people up there can get it right!

About the author: Matt Stanford

Matt Stanford
Matt has been working in education for 10 years, teaching science to all ages from preschool to degree. Before he became a teacher he studied chemistry at Masters level and completed his PhD at The University of Warwick. It was during his time at university that he got involved in outreach work in local primary schools and found his passion for inspiring learning.

Speak Your Mind

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.