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£41m Funding For Schools To Adopt Maths Mastery

The “mastery” approach, which stems from high performing Asian nations such as Singapore, is set to become a standard fixture in England’s primary schools, according to a major expansion announced by Minister of State for School Standards, Nick Gibb. 8,000 primary schools in England will receive £41 million over 4 years to support teaching maths for mastery.

Why Fund Teaching Maths For Mastery?

The Government is concerned that England is lagging behind other economies in terms of our ability to perform in maths and solve problems. They cite international tests which show that in the countries whose students lead in maths, such as Singapore, the percentage of 15-year-olds who are ‘functionally innumerate’ was more than 10 percentage points lower than in England.

The Department for Education (DfE) believe that teaching children to master maths will improve our international standing.

What Is Maths Mastery?

The maths mastery approach is marked by careful planning, ensuring no pupil’s understanding is left to chance. Maths mastery involves children being taught as a whole class, supported by the use of high-quality textbooks, to build depth of understanding of the structure of maths. The approach became more widespread in England with the introduction of the new national curriculum in 2014 and the work of 35 Maths Hubs - school-led centres of excellence in maths teaching.

Maths Mastery In The Classroom


How Will The Funding Be Used?

Spread over the next 4 years, the funding of up to £41 million will allow thousands more schools to teach maths for mastery by investing in high quality textbooks and professional development.

The National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM) will be leading the programme through the Maths Hubs.

The NCETM will train primary teachers as mastery specialists and equip them to pass on their expertise to teachers from 6 schools in their area. So far 140 Mastery Specialists have been trained by the NCETM and over the next 4 school years, starting in September 2016, a further 140 mastery specialist teachers will be trained each year.

There will be funding for teachers and schools to join work groups, led by these mastery specialists. The first 840 of these schools will join such work groups in this school year. In subsequent years the numbers of schools participating in this way will rise sharply, reaching a total figure of around 8,000 by school year 2019-2020.

In addition to funding for training, schools participating in these work groups will receive up to £2k match funding to invest in high-quality mastery textbooks, for use by teachers in lesson preparation and pupils during lessons.

Want To Find Out More?

We will continue to publish updates as more details emerge. To make sure you don’t miss out on the latest news about the DfE funding, register here for updates.

Can My School Get Involved?

Teachers and schools participating in this programme for 2016-2017 school year, either as mastery specialists or in work groups, have already been selected. Details of how schools and teachers can get involved in 2017-2018 will be released soon and we will publish the details here as soon as they are confirmed.

If you can’t wait until next year for training and textbooks, take a look at our professional development options. We have trained 1000s of teachers to teach maths for mastery including 500 primary teachers in conjunction with the Maths Hubs.

Our View

As a pioneer of maths mastery teaching - we introduced the concept to the UK back in 2007 - we are obviously excited about the DfE’s announcement. We’ve seen, first hand, how teaching for mastery can improve the maths confidence of both teachers and pupils and we strongly believe that with the right kind of teaching and support, every child can achieve in maths.

However, we are concerned by the number of maths schemes which are being re-packaged as a “mastery approach” to capitalise on this funding. Academics and maths mastery practitioners have expressed concern that this re-branding of existing schemes will lead to a continuation of existing practices, under the description of “mastery teaching”, which are not aligned with the evidence-based pedagogy of a true mastery approach. That’s why we are calling for the DfE funding to only be used for evidence-based, mastery programmes which comply with the NCETM’s High Quality Textbook Guidelines.

Our View on the use of textbooks in the classroom