Teaching for Mastery

Mastering maths means pupils acquiring a deep, long-term, secure and adaptable understanding of the subject.

The phrase ‘teaching for mastery’ describes the elements of classroom practice and school organisation that combine to give pupils the best chances of mastering maths.

Achieving mastery means acquiring a solid enough understanding of the maths that’s been taught to enable pupils to move on to more advanced material.

The Teaching for Mastery Programme comprises a range of projects and activities at the heart of all Maths Hubs’ work. It is a continuing programme launched by £41m funding by the Department for Education in July 2016.

A central component in the NCETM/Maths Hubs programs to develop Mastery Specialists has been the discussion of the ‘Five Big Ideas’, drawn from research evidence and underpinning Teaching for Mastery. This is the diagram used to help bind these ideas together:

Five Big Ideas in Teaching for Mastery


Teaching for mastery is promoted by the Maths Hub in a variety of ways. Please note, some of the links below will take you to information about mastery on the NCETM website.

  • Development Work Groups 
    Sometimes known as Teacher Research Groups or TRGs, Development Work Groups involve a small number of local schools coming together to collaborate on professional development. They are led by classroom-based Mastery Specialists. The Work Groups provide professional development and specialist support to schools, enabling the introduction of teaching for mastery in a sustainable way. By the summer of 2023, more than 10,000 primary schools will receive training and develop practice in this way. 
  • Mastery Specialists
    Primary and secondary teachers are trained by the NCETM and their local Maths Hub to become experts in mastery. They take a mastery approach in their own classrooms and support colleagues in their own and other schools.
  • Materials and Resources
    Maths Hubs and the NCETM have funded and produced a wide range of resources that will help teachers and leaders implement teaching for mastery. These include professional development materials, assessment materials, calculation guidance, videos of lessons, teachers and school leaders, and Bespoke magazine.
  • Teacher Exchange Programme
    An exchange programme between primary and secondary teachers from England and their counterparts in Shanghai takes place each year. There are also ‘Shanghai Showcase’ events when Shanghai teachers visit England. These allow teachers across the country to observe lessons taught by Shanghai teachers, and discuss their pedagogy and approaches. See a report from when our Mastery Specialists visited Shanghai in November 2019 here
  • Textbooks
    Financial support is available to schools participating in the Teaching for Mastery Programme, to help them to buy high quality textbooks which are consistent with teaching for mastery
  • Work Groups The Mastery programmes are ran by lead participant teachers in Work Groups that run throughout the year. Work groups are a model of professional and school development used by the Maths Hubs. Find out more by clicking here.