Curriculum - Maths

What do mastery lessons look like for your child?

What do Mastery lessons look like in our setting?

We are teaching our children to become pattern spotters in maths lessons. We want them to be fluent in the facts, be able to reason with the understanding and to problem solve in any context.

When a child has been able to show they can do these things, we consider them a master of that skill. If you look in any of our books, you will see evidence of this as an outcome for our children.

However, it is when you talk to our children about mathematics, that you will see just how empowered our children really are.

The Journey to Mastery: Empowering Children to Become Independent Problem Solvers

At Birchwood Junior School we know that quality, long term learning comes from thorough and careful preparation. Our teachers plan together in teams, preparing questioning to move the learning forward, seeking out possible misconceptions so that they can be directly addressed, and then building logical small steps to ensure all children can make links within the learning. Visual representations are planned in to lessons carefully so that children have the opportunity to recognise each and every pattern and relationship within the mathematics. Real world examples are used to make sure that children can relate to the learning and are engaged by how mathematics links to their own lives every day


Once a concept has been directly taught in small steps, we give children opportunities to discuss, debate and agree on generalised rules for the mathematical relationships we are looking at. Each discussion is used as an opportunity to sharpen thinking, and use high level mathematical vocabulary. Generalised rules often appear as stem sentences within the lesson: a single or multiple sentence explanation of the learning that applies to any context you see it in.


Once children have recognised the pattern and agree on a generalised rule, we give children carefully chosen questions to practise their new understanding. This practise is done through a ping pong approach, where the teacher models questions, and children have a go for themselves. This back and forth process is continued until all children are secure in the lessons objective. We ensure that questions are varied in a controlled manner, again to expose mathematical relationships, but also to ensure that children can answer questions in a range of contexts. Ultimately with the aim to ensure that children can tackle mathematical questions independently. During independent practise, we work on a 3-2-1 system. 3 fluency questions in yellow, two reasoning questions and one problem solving question.


This approach means that all children learn together and move forward together. Each classroom forms a micro-community where children can make mistakes in a safe space, and build a solid understanding of each and every concept they come across. Children are engaged because they recognise the value in the learning, and never feel overwhelmed because each learning step is a bite size chunk, large enough to challenge, and small enough that children can retain learning for the long term.

Where children are in a position to be challenged further in a lesson, we choose not to move on to different objectives, but instead ensure opportunities are provided to enrich and deepen their knowledge even further. You can see this evidenced in your child’s book with a blue question. These are open ended questions.