Our Approach to Teaching for Mastery in Mathematics


At SS. Mary & John’s Catholic Primary Academy our Mathematics curriculum is designed with the intent that all children can become confident and skilled mathematicians.

Our aims are that our children gain:

  • deep and sustainable learning
  • sound procedural and conceptual understanding
  • an ability to build on previous knowledge
  • an ability to reason about a concept and make connections
  • an ability to use and apply mathematical skills in real-life contexts 

We aim to develop growth mindset thinking, value mistakes and persistence – we ensure children: 

  • are confident 
  • enjoy mathematics 
  • are flexible in their thinking 
  • have no fear of failure
  • are happy to make mistakes
  • have a ‘can do’ approach


At SS. Mary & John’s Catholic Primary Academy we use a mastery approach to the teaching of mathematics; this means that all children are taught one set of mathematical concepts and the big ideas in mathematics. Lessons are carefully crafted, in order to allow all pupils to access these mathematical concepts and ideas and explore the rich connections between them. Teachers use a range of high quality resources and are supported by the New NCETM Curriculum Prioritisation Materails (from September 2021) which outlines maths specific subject and pedagogical knowledge within the NCETM professional development materials and the DfE Non-Statutory Mathematics Guidance.

We have high expectations of our pupils and strive to make the mathematics curriculum accessible to all. Pupils will move through the National Curriculum programme of study at broadly the same pace. We recognise that all children need a deep understanding of the mathematics they are learning in order that future learning is built upon firm foundations. 

In Early Years, Mathematics is taught through the chosen class topic, it is often explored through different contexts, including books, puzzles, songs, rhymes, puppet play and games.  The development of key mathematical skills are implemented through planned, purposeful activities, where there is a mix of adult-led, child-initiated and continuous provision activities. 

Work undertaken within Foundation Stage is guided by the requirements and recommendations set out in the Statutory Framework for EYFS (September 2021), which underpin the curriculum planning for children aged three to five. We give all the children ample opportunity to develop their understanding of cardinality and counting, comparison, composition, pattern, shape and space and measures through varied activities that allow them to enjoy, explore, practice and talk confidently about mathematics. To support teaching to mastery across the whole school and aid transition from Reception class to Year 1, we use the EYFS NCETM progression charts to lay a firm foundation in children’s early mathematical learning; In addition to this we use, new for September 2020, Schemes of Learning from White Rose Maths which underpin the new DfE Maths curriculum guidance July 2020. The skills needed for the ELGs within the Statutory Framework for EYFS will be included as part of a broad early maths curriculum.

Aspects of mathematics teaching:

  •  A coherent journey through the curriculum is planned (learning in small steps daily);
  •  Learning is through a concrete – pictorial – abstract approach;
  •  Teachers carefully choose representations which expose the structure of the mathematics and plan to address difficult points in order to develop deep understanding of concepts;
  • Children are taught to think mathematically and reason logically – looking for patterns and relationships;
  • Communication – precise mathematical language is used in oral/written explanations, expecting pupils to explain their thinking in whole sentences;
  • Ensure pupils work in mixed ability partners and groups. 
  • Teaching is episodic and whole-class based with everyone covering the same content. 
  • Adults use skillful questioning to reveal, probe and address misconceptions;
  • Variation is used to explore the essential features of concepts;
  • Mathematical skills are practised, applied and assessed across the curriculum;
  • A mathematically rich environment supports learning;
  • Fluency and flexibility are developed in every lesson (including looking at relationships and making connections);
  •  Differentiation of lessons through effective assessment for learning using questioning and scaffolding so that struggling learners can access the lesson content:
  • Children grasping a concept rapidly will be challenged through rich and sophisticated problems;
  • Skillful assessment identifies children who are struggling to grasp concepts leading to guided groups and catch up sessions with qualified teachers or teaching assistants, and if required, structured interventions;
  • Full exploration of each concept before moving on, pupils will have plenty of practice to embed ideas. Struggling learners will have ample time to remediate when necessary and advanced learners will have enough opportunities to deepen their understanding.

Curriculum map:

The curriculum sequences small steps within each new mathematical topic across the school. Pupils spend far longer on key mathematical concepts in number and calculation allowing a depth of understanding enhancing progress and understanding within all mathematical areas.

Those children who grasp the concepts more quickly are given opportunities to deepen their knowledge further by improving their reasoning skills rather than accelerating on to new curriculum content. Curriculum planning in other subject areas provides opportunities for pupils to use and apply their mathematical skills.


Using the evidence through observations and assessment of learning during the practice activities and teacher questioning any children who have not grasped the concept or who have misconceptions will have a rapid intervention to ensure that they are ready for the next day’s learning. This intervention will ideally take place the same day or at the latest the following day. 


Differentiation will be seen by children working on differing complexities of problems within the same objective. ‘Advanced learners’ will have deeper thinking questions and challenging problems to solve to ensure that they continue to make progress. Struggling learners will have scaffolded work enabling them to access the lesson content. There will be some children who are using practical equipment for longer in order to support learning. Our aim is that the gap between mathematical attainment in our classes is narrowed. However there may be a need to give a minority of pupils in some year groups a bespoke programme of learning due to their individual learning needs which is supported by our SENDCo.

Tracking Progress:

During the course of each term, children’s learning will be assessed through questions and problems that require the pupils to remember, understand, apply, analyse and evaluate their knowledge and skills. Pupil targets are linked closely to the age related outcomes for each year group where teachers track attainment evidence as each term progresses. Pupil targets will be updated by teachers regularly during each term, on school’s online assessment tracking system. The amount of targets achieved in each term helps to inform teacher assessments to state whether a child is below, emerging, developing, secure or exceeding age related outcomes. The assessment system formulates a summative assessment grade at three assessment points during the year. 


The impact of the curriculum design will lead to outstanding progress over time at all key stages, from the children’s starting points on entry. Children will leave school attaining their very highest possible outcomes in relation to Age Related Expectations. It is our aim that all children will at least meet Age Related Expectations.

The curriculum, including the written calculation policy, will enable teachers to consistently plan and deliver lessons of the highest standard and children’s outcomes will be of the highest possible.

Children will be able to make useful connections and solve practical problems that they encounter in real life. 

Children will be confident, resilient, self-motivated, independent learners with a thirst for challenge and with the mindset that with effort they will succeed. 

Maths Documents