Dominic Colley is a teacher at Corporation Road Community Primary School in Darlington
We have heard a lot about “teaching for mastery”, but what does it mean in the classroom? One thing it is not is an extension activity for the higher-attaining children – it is for everyone. Staff and children need to have the mindset that all pupils can achieve in maths. Mastery helps you to ensure this happens. Break end-of-year objectives down into smaller steps, then think about what children really need to know and understand to be successful.
Mixed-ability grouping is important to avoid the “elephant in the classroom”: children who struggle with maths every day. Make the learning fun, inspiring, practical and get children talking to each other about what they do and don’t know. Reinforce the importance of knowing the key facts off by heart. Learn them in class, for homework and make it fun. Ten minutes a day, every school day, is more than 30 hours of learning – imagine how confident pupils will be with number bonds or times tables after that.
And if there are children who still have misconceptions, change your plan to support them, immediately, before the next maths lesson. This will help to keep all children motivated and feeling successful, which is surely the aim of all teachers, and not just those “teaching for mastery”.
Craig Barton is a maths teacher at Thornleigh Salesian College in Bolton. He is also TES maths adviser and the creator of mrbartonmaths.com and diagnosticquestions.com
For us maths teachers, next year is all about the new maths GCSE, and I’ll be honest – I’m a little scared.
Never have I received less information (or more misinformation) about a qualification. Will the kids need to know calculus? Are stem and leaf diagrams still on the spec? What has happened to trial and improvement? The whole thing has more plot twists (and threats of violence) than an episode of Game of Thrones.
Combine this with a complete lack of information or guidance about grade boundaries and you have a toxic concoction that could tip us all over the edge.
At my school, we are trying our best to make do with what we have got. We’ve rewritten our schemes of work, moving all the new GCSE content to Year 11 to buy us as much time as possible to see what the new requirements will look like. We’ve created assessments using legacy papers and sample assessment materials, and based homework on the various offerings from the awarding bodies.
In addition, we’ve also infused our Year 7-10 programmes with compulsory, rich tasks that all students will encounter, to develop their problem-solving skills as well as their grit and determination. Will all this be enough? I guess we’ll find out next summer.