Mastering Number

Mastering Number Programme: Reception and Key Stage 1

In 2021/22, all Maths Hubs will organise communities of schools following the Mastering Number Programme. This programme will develop solid number sense, including fluency and flexibility with number facts, which will have a lasting impact on future learning for all children. The programme will also involve high quality professional development for teachers.

Each Maths Hub is now accepting applications from schools to join the Work Groups for this programme. This document gives information about the Work Groups and how schools can apply to be involved.

A school’s participation involves teachers from each of Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 (in one-form entry schools), the maths subject lead, and the headteacher. In small schools, there may be just one or two participating class teachers. In larger, multi-form schools, it is expected that lead teachers support colleagues in Reception and KS1 to adopt the same approach in their classes, to ensure consistency across the school.


Since 2014, the NCETM and Maths Hubs have been working together to develop approaches to teaching for mastery within primary maths. Thousands of schools have benefited. The Mastering Number Programme is wholly consistent with teaching for mastery.

For schools in the Mastering Number Programme, children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 will have a daily teacher-led session of 10 to 15 minutes, designed to ensure that pupils develop fluency with, and understanding of, number that is crucial to future success in maths and academic progress more generally.

The central programme

The core professional development programme will be delivered by an experienced team from the NCETM, led by the NCETM’s Director of Primary Mathematics, Debbie Morgan. It will involve the lead teachers, maths subject lead and headteacher engaging in a range of synchronous and asynchronous online professional development, including three live sessions, across the academic year.

Teachers will be expected to deliver a daily session of 10 to 15 minutes in addition to their daily maths lesson, which may be a little shorter as a result. Resources, including lesson plans, visual resources and practical equipment, will be provided.

Central to the programme will be a small, abacus-like piece of equipment called a rekenrek, which will be provided for use by children in participating classes. Watch Debbie Morgan demonstrate the rekenrek below.

Local Work Groups

Each Work Group will consist of up to 40 schools and be led by a professional experienced in early maths and in leading professional development in their Maths Hub area. During the year, teachers in the Work Group will work together to share experiences and reflect on the impact of the programme on their pupils and on themselves as teachers. The Work Group Lead will facilitate and steer regular discussion among participants in a dedicated online community. This ongoing cross-fertilisation of experiences, ideas and successes will create a vibrant and sustained professional learning experience for all those taking part. It will also significantly benefit pupils in the participating schools.

Benefits for participating schools

Participating in the Work Group will provide the following benefits to participant schools:
 High quality support for teacher professional development for the lead teachers, directed by the NCETM and facilitated by the local Maths Hub
 Supportive and collaborative online community facilitated by the Work Group Lead
 Resources provided, including coherent plans for the Mastering Number daily sessions in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2
 Sets of the central physical resource: the abacus-like rekenrek
 No charge for participation.

Who can apply?

Should the programme be oversubscribed, priority will be given to schools with the highest levels of disadvantage. Early applications will be welcomed. Schools in Mastery Readiness, Development and Embedding Work Groups for 2021/22 should prioritise their existing teaching for mastery commitments and therefore should not apply. Schools in 2020/21 Embedding or Sustaining Work Groups can apply.

Expectations of participating schools

Schools chosen to participate in the Work Group commit to the following expectations:

  • The school will introduce Mastering Number in all Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 classes, in addition to their daily maths lesson (which could be shortened as a result of participation in this Work Group)
  • Teachers will be expected to contribute regularly to an online community led by the Work Group Lead, reflecting on the implementation and impact of the programme, as well as attending two, more formal online sessions, during 2021/22
  • Participants in the project will engage in all online synchronous and asynchronous professional development, including three live sessions, throughout the academic year
  • The school will provide any feedback required by the Maths Hub and participate in any evaluation processes required.

There is no charge to schools participating in the programme. Resources will be provided for each school, in order for them to teach daily sessions of the Mastering Number Programme.


1) London North East Maths Hub has a limited number of places capped at 156 schools.
2) Nationally, schools that will be in Readiness, Developing or Embedding Teaching for Mastery next year are currently being advised not to apply for Mastering Number. Sustaining schools are eligible to apply now.
3) Schools must identify a teacher in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 to participate. Maths Leads can also attend alongside colleagues.
4) The CPD for those teachers will be delivered as 3 pre-recorded sessions and 3 online workshops. The workshops for all three teachers will be on the same day but not at the same time meaning that cover implications are reduced for schools. E.g. Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 participants will all attend a workshop on the same day but the times will be staggered throughout the day.
5) Schools are unable to “club together” across federations or MATs to identify the 3 participants, they must all be from the same school.
6) As soon as round 1 recruitment closes, your details will be passed to the DfE so that an order can be placed for the physical resources that accompany programme participation. These will be delivered directly to your school.
7) If you are still in the position that a number of schools are in with finalising staffing for September, please identify names now as likely choices. Names can be amended at the end of Summer 2.
8) If the programme is oversubscribed, schools with a high priority of disadvantaged pupils will be prioritised.
9) Schools who are accepted onto the programme at the close of Round 1 recruitment will be considered as committed and will not be withdrawn if the programme is oversubscribed.

How to apply

Schools interested in applying to be part of a Work Group in 2021/22 should complete the application form found here in the 2nd Phase of recruitment