Mathematics Mastery - one year on

ARK’s approach to teaching maths, Mathematics Mastery, has completed its first year and is already seeing excellent results. The programme aims to ensure all pupils fully understand mathematical concepts and has already been taught to more than 2,000 children in 30 primary schools.

Headteachers found that the programme has enabled the lowest-performing children to comfortably reach the expected standard for their age group, and in some schools pupils have achieved more than double expected progress. 130 primary and secondary schools have signed up to be part of the Maths Mastery community from September 2013.

We asked some of the teachers and headteachers who have been using Mathematics Mastery to tell us about their experiences of pioneering the programme in its first year.

“My pupils show a genuine understanding of maths now”

Lyndsey Gale is the Mathematics Mastery lead teacher at New Kings Primary School in London. She has been teaching the new approach to year 1 students since September 2012 and seen dramatic improvements. By the summer term, most students had moved up three to four sub levels, with an average of 9.2 points score - more than double the expected score. New Kings will be rolling the programme out in reception, year 1 and year 2 from September this year.

“Maths Mastery arrived at a time when our maths needed developing. Scores in key stage 1 were low and something needed to be put in place to improve children’s understanding.
“At first I questioned how it would benefit all the children in the class. Would it improve the more able for example? But I soon realised that it does, it just encourages you – as the teacher – to think more creatively.”

“The change in results has been amazing, but it is the children’s confidence that has really improved. You can tell by the way they explain number patterns that they understand what they are seeing. I have noticed with Maths Mastery that the key is not knowing the answer, but knowing how you got to the answer. It shows a genuine understanding.”

Miles Chester, the head teacher of New Kings, looks forward to their second year using the approach.

“The progress that the class has made has been incredible – over double what we expected. This is great for next year as we can actually prove that it works! It is not just year 1 that has improved – the whole school has benefited from Maths Mastery as it has made us think about how we teach maths all the way up the school. ”

"There is just so much more confidence"

Lesley Farrow is head teacher at Clements CP School in Suffolk, where they have just completed their first year of teaching the Maths Mastery approach. By the end of the first term, the class was already meeting their end of year targets. The school starts teaching Maths Mastery at reception and year 2 in September.

“Our maths results are higher than our literacy results, but I believe that Maths Mastery is having an impact on children’s literacy too. Their deep understanding of constructing sentences and the confidence that they now have is showing through in all subjects, not just maths.”

“It’s affected teachers’ confidence too. Their teaching style, as a whole, has become more pacey, their objectives are clearer and there is just so much more confidence and structure to their teaching. “

“I don’t think there is one child in my class that does not enjoy maths”

Farhana Nazu is a year 1 teacher at Grazebrook Primary School.

“For me, Maths Mastery is all about having knowledge at your fingertips. The way we teach maths now means children have to really understand something before they can move on. They know the answer because they understand how to work it out; it’s not taken from memory. They pick up new concepts so quickly now. When we introduced time, they just got it – because of such a strong understanding of numbers. It’s amazing to see them apply this to so many different things.”