innovatED Magazine - Issue 3 - Autumn 2019


A lively mix of news, articles, opinion, research, insight and regulatory updates. We take a global perspective and bring the latest developments and outstanding practice from across the world and across different sectors to enable educators to deliver the very best for their pupils. Produced by an experienced and knowledgeable teaching and school leadership team, innovatED is a termly must-read for all staff rooms.

Curriculum Mastery In Mathematics

P o w e r e d b y

The journey towards a mastery curriculum

Teaching something new to pupils is one thing but also changing the school’s teaching approach is another. Paul

Johnson shows how with the support of his Headteacher, he was able to guide his school towards a mastery curriculum.

Over two years ago, I learnt about the NCETM Primary Mastery Specialist Training Programme

and decided that this was the route I wanted my school to follow. We are a one form entry

school that has always had good results as well as having a high percentage of children that have

achieved greater depth or level 6. For a number of years, we have been using a concrete,

pictorial, abstract (CPA) approach to mathematics, and I saw developing a mastery approach as

the next logical step. I am a strong believer that children should be taught conceptual

understanding instead of strictly being taught rules.

Having looked into the mastery approach, I felt that this was a perfect fit for our school as well as

underpinning my ethos. My Headteacher was very supportive, and she fully backed this approach.

Fundamentally, she understood that it was a journey that could take time and that results

wouldn’t increase instantly.

Paul Johnson

PD Lead and Maths SLE

I gained a place on the training programme and immediately following the

opening conference, I considered there to be a number of key questions:

• Do we phase the approach in class by class or introduce whole school?

• How do I ensure that all staff are on-board with this process?

• Which area of mastery are we going to focus on first?

• How will a slower approach affect our higher ability children?

Our staff are very open to new ways of thinking; however, for a number of

teachers there was some apprehension. When you get good results in your

class, you begin to question the need for change. My first staff meeting

focused on what a mastery curriculum entailed, and how it would benefit

all children.

Page 16 | Issue 3 | innovatED | Autumn 2019

CPA approach - a highly effective method

of teaching mathematics

• A logical and intuitive technique that builds on a

child’s existing understanding

• A highly effective framework for progressing

pupils to abstract concepts like fractions

• Involves concrete materials and

pictorial/representational diagrams

• Based on research by psychologist Jerome


• Along with bar modelling and number bonds, it

is an essential approach to developing young


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