The Mathematics Curriculum
The 2014 National Curriculum for Mathematics has been designed to raise standards in maths, with the aim that the large majority of pupils will achieve 'mastery' of the subject.
Teaching maths for mastery involves employing approaches that help pupils to develop a deep and secure knowledge and understanding of mathematics at each stage of their learning, so that by the end of every school year pupils will have acquired mastery of the mathematical facts and concepts they’ve been exposed to, equipping them to move on confidently and securely to more advanced material.
If understanding in any mathematical area is deep (not superficial) then it will mean the learner has recognised and grasped connections between the concept in question and concepts in other areas of maths. It will mean they can explain why something in this mathematical area works, and why, perhaps if just one parameter changes, it doesn’t work.
Concrete and pictorial representations of mathematics are chosen carefully and used when teaching and in pupil's exercises to help build deep conceptual knowledge alongside developing procedural fluency.
A mastery approach exposes almost all of the children to the same curriculum content at the same pace, allowing them all full access to the curriculum. There is a widely-held misconception that sees teaching for mastery as holding back high-attaining pupils, because they have to wait for the whole class to ‘get’ something before they can tackle the ‘more difficult’ stuff.
There are two main points to address this concern. First, the ability to race through pages and pages of questions, demonstrating speedy and accurate ability to do mechanical calculations does not mean a pupil has developed secure grasp of the mathematics concerned – many pupils who appear to shine in this way often struggle when challenged to apply knowledge outside the parameters of routine exercises.
And second, these high-attainers thrive and advance even more in their understanding when exposed to activities that explore and develop deep understanding. Far from being held back, these pupils are building more secure and transferable understanding of mathematics.
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