All pupils are entitled to a progressive and comprehensive mathematics programme which embraces current Statutory Orders of the National Curriculum and takes into account individual interests and needs.

'Mastery' approach to teaching Mathematics

At Bassingbourn Primary school, we take a 'Mastery' approach to teaching Mathematics. Certain principles and features characterise this approach:

  • Teachers reinforce an expectation that all pupils are capable of achieving high standards in Mathematics.

  • The large majority of pupil’s progress through the curriculum content at the same pace. Differentiation is achieved by emphasising deep knowledge and through individual support and intervention.

  • Teaching is underpinned by methodical curriculum design and supported by carefully crafted lessons and resources to foster deep conceptual and procedural knowledge. Practice and consolidation play a central role.

  • Carefully designed variation within this builds fluency and understanding of underlying mathematical concepts in tandem.

  • Teachers use precise questioning in class to test conceptual and procedural knowledge and assess pupils regularly to identify those requiring intervention so that all pupils keep up.

The intention of these approaches is to provide all children with full access to the curriculum, enabling them to achieve confidence and competence – 'mastery' – in Mathematics, rather than many failing to develop the maths skills they need for the future.

  • All pupils should become fluent in the fundamentals of Mathematics, including through varied and frequent practice, so that pupils develop conceptual understanding and are able to recall and apply their knowledge rapidly and accurately to problems.

  • The expectation is that the majority of pupils will move through the programmes of study at broadly the same pace. When to progress should always be based on the security of pupils’ understanding and their readiness to progress to the next stage.

  • Pupils who grasp concepts rapidly should be challenged through rich and sophisticated problems before any acceleration through new content. Those pupils who are not sufficiently fluent with earlier material should consolidate their understanding, including through additional practice, before moving on.

Key features of the mastery approach

A detailed, structured curriculum is mapped out across all phases, ensuring continuity and supporting transition between year groups and Key stages. We spend considerable time on Key content areas of the Mathematics curriculum in order to make sure that all children are secure before moving on to new concepts.

A coherent programme of high quality, curriculum materials is used to support classroom teaching. Concrete and pictorial representations of mathematics are chosen carefully to help build procedural and conceptual knowledge together.

The focus is on the development of deep structural knowledge and the ability to make connections. Making connections in mathematics deepens knowledge of concepts and procedures, ensuring what is learnt is sustained over time.

How do we support our pupils?

When taking a mastery approach, differentiation occurs in the support and intervention provided to different pupils, not in the topics taught, particularly at earlier stages. There is a narrow differentiation in content taught, but the questioning and scaffolding individual pupils receive in class, as they work through problems, will differ with higher attainers challenged through more demanding problems, which deepen their knowledge of the same content. Pupils' difficulties and misconceptions are identified through immediate formative assessment and addressed with rapid intervention – commonly through individual or small group support later the same day. Where pupils struggle to catch up, we run 'First class @ Number' in KS1 and KS2 to support pupils to fill any early gaps they have. We also run a KS2 after school Maths club.

Fluency comes from deep knowledge and practice. Pupils work hard every morning in what we call ‘5 a day Maths’. This is time during registration that we spend on rehearsing number facts and quick recall of number facts and practise of mental Maths techniques. At early stages, explicit learning of multiplication tables is important in the journey towards fluency and contributes to quick and efficient mental calculation. Practice leads to other number facts becoming second nature.


The programmes of study for mathematics are set out year-by-year for key stages 1 and 2 (as they work through Milestone 1, 2 and 3). The relevant programme of study will be taught by the end of the key stage. Within each key stage, the school will be flexible with regard to introducing content earlier or later than set out in the programme of study in order to meet the needs of the children. In addition, the school will introduce key stage content during an earlier key stage, if appropriate. We have a problem solving and reasoning focus within every lesson.