Teaching for Mastery Programme Expansion!

The teaching for mastery programme in primary schools in England is to be significantly expanded over the next four years with £41 million of new funding from the Department for Education (DfE).

The announcement was made by the Schools Minister Nick Gibb at the annual conference of the Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education (ACME) in London today (12 July 2016).

The money, channelled through the 35 Maths Hubs in England, will fund four further years of the Mastery Specialists programme, which began last September, and in which 140 experienced primary teachers have engaged in professional development activities to become expert in mastery approaches to teaching mathematics.

Thanks to the new funding, every year from autumn 2016 onwards, a further 140 teachers will undergo a year of development as Mastery Specialists and, once established, continue to be funded to lead professional development groups of teachers from neighbouring schools. In this way, by summer 2020, a total of 700 Mastery Specialists will be trained, and teachers from 8,400 schools will also have received training in teaching for mastery approaches.

The funding will also help schools participating in the programme pay for textbooks consistent with teaching for mastery approaches. Examples of such textbooks have been used for two years by teachers taking part in a Maths Hubs project, and found to be of significant support in designing lessons and in helping pupils develop deep understanding of mathematical concepts.

Commenting on the funding announcement, the NCETM Director, Charlie Stripp, said:

‘This will give significant new momentum to the existing work around teaching for mastery in primary schools. The 140 Mastery Specialist teachers who are now completing their development year have already had a positive impact on pupils in their own schools and on teachers in neighbouring schools. Expanding the programme for a further four years is wonderful news for maths education.’

‘Contrary to some reports, teaching maths for mastery is not about rote learning and drilling, though it certainly does result in pupils knowing and being able to recall times tables and other key number facts, which represent an important foundation for learning and using maths. Teaching for mastery focuses on deep conceptual learning, developing secure foundations that pupils can build on throughout their education.’

The Maths Hubs programme is led by the NCETM and funded by the DfE.

Breakdown of funding and timeline for schools’ involvement

There are three broad strands to the DfE funding announced on 12 July.

  • Continuing to train primary teachers as Mastery Specialists, and equip them to pass on their expertise to teachers and schools in their areas. So far 140 Mastery Specialists have already been trained. Over the next four school years, starting in September 2016, a further 560 will be trained.
  • Funding teachers and schools to join Work Groups, led by Mastery Specialists, with the aim of spreading knowledge, experience and expertise about mastery approaches widely across the school landscape. The first 840 of these schools will join such Work Groups in the school year starting in September 2016. In subsequent years the numbers of schools participating in this way will rise sharply, reaching a total figure of around 8,000 by school year 2019-2020.
  • Subsidising schools participating in the above Work Groups to buy textbooks—for use by teachers in lesson preparation and pupils during lessons.

Details of how these three areas of activity and funding will be managed and allocated are currently being finalised. However,all teachers and schools participating in this programme, either as Mastery Specialists or in Work Groups, in the coming school year (2016-2017) have already been selected.

Details of how schools and teachers can get involved in years 2017-2018 onwards will be published in the 2016 autumn term.

Meanwhile, alongside this funded programme, Maths Hubs and the NCETM will continue to make available, freely accessible to all schools, materials, guidance, information and case studies about teaching for mastery.

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