Our Approach to Mastery in Maths


Embedding a Mastery Approach

Over the past year we have introduced and embedded a mastery approach to develop consistency across school from Early Years to Key Stage 2. A large amount of time has been invested into developing this approach, including working closely with the North East Maths Hub to access a wide variety of training and development sessions, as well as working alongside a Hub Advisor.

CPA Approach

To support delivery of Mastery, we have adopted a CPA (Concrete, Pictorial, Abstract) approach. This is an effective approach that enables our children to develop a deep and sustainable understanding of Maths. This technique builds upon existing knowledge and supports progression to abstract concepts. All classes use a variety of concrete resources and pictorial representations to solve calculations and problems. These methods help children to build powerful connections between concrete, pictorial and abstract representations.

Stem Sentences and Key Vocabulary

We have introduced stem sentences and key vocabulary across school. This gives children clear and consistent expectations as they progress through Key Stages. Stem sentences encourage children to read, talk, write and answer questions in full sentences. Encouraging correct use of vocabulary raises standards and helps to develop mathematical literacy.

White Rose Maths

Throughout school we use White Rose Maths to plan small steps for progression. The principles of White Rose support the delivery of Mastery for Maths and focus on developing mathematical fluency. Small, carefully planned steps are used throughout lessons to encourage opportunities to explore manipulatives through a CPA approach.


Although most children work in mixed ability pairs and groups, differentiation is evident within a variety of forms. Differentiation through outcomes, guided practice, scaffolding materials and modelled examples are used across school to ensure appropriate challenge and support are given to children. ‘Steps to Success’ stickers also clearly show differentiation, annotating levels of support and outcomes expected and achieved within lessons.

Early Years

Children are introduced to a mastery curriculum through a variety of number activities and practical tasks. Children work within a maths rich environment, where numbers, vocabulary and resources are clearly labelled for self selection. Each week, carefully planned activities encourage children to use a variety of concrete resources. Children are encouraged to experiment with recording and use accurate labelling. Shape, space and measure tasks are embedded throughout the Creative Curriculum, identified in role play areas, free choice and lolly stick challenges. These are also included through observations and the children’s own recording. In the summer term, Reception children are introduced to more formal maths lessons. These lessons encourage children to record using numerals and number sentences. These activities are all supported by concrete resources.

Key Stage One

Children have unlimited access to a bank of mathematical manipulatives, available within the working area. They are encouraged to explore and investigate a wide range of different representations and methods. Lessons are introduced within a real world context. Children work within mixed ability pairs and groups to explore and discuss lesson content. Throughout the lesson, opportunities are given for children to share thinking and model methods. Guided practice is used to teach varied pictorial and abstract representations, calculations and problem solving. Children then work independently, in pairs and groups to apply new learning, using modelled methods, key vocabulary and stem sentences.

Lower Key Stage Two

Children are familiar with maths areas within the classroom. They have unlimited daily access to a maths work station and an additional working washing line. The work station displays all available concrete resources and manipulatives, as well as helpful representation prompts. The working washing line is updated daily with modelled examples, key vocabulary and stem sentences. Children can confidently access these areas to support independent learning throughout lessons. Children sit in mixed ability pairs and work together to discuss tasks and practical activities. Children are given many opportunities to include mathematical talk within lessons, using key vocabulary modelled and stem sentences. A ping pong approach is used to maintain pace of lessons, balancing teacher input with child dialogue and investigation.

Upper Key Stage Two

Within the classroom, children have maths resources clearly displayed within drawers, readily available to access when needed. There is a working wall, displaying examples of modelled practice and celebrating children’s achievements within maths. Whiteboards, including the interactive whiteboard, are used to model representations, calculations and written methods. Children continue to use a CPA approach within lessons, focusing more on abstract elements. Children progress to applying knowledge and skills to problem solving and investigations. Stem sentences and key vocabulary are still clearly modelled and displayed; children continue to use these confidently throughout lessons and within peer discussions. Children work in mixed ability pairs, individually and in groups, to complete tasks and independently access scaffolding resources when needed.