Mathematics Mastery into GCSE – and beyond!

Blog: Ian Davies, Director of Secondary

Mathematics Mastery into GCSE – and beyond!

Posted: 27/03/15

We’re excited about the new mathematics GCSE which launches this September.

The changes may seem a little daunting, but they represent a great opportunity to put problem solving at the heart of the Key Stage 4 curriculum and to help students to develop their reasoning skills and make links between the branches of mathematics.  We also think the new GCSE will be a great springboard to help students to take their study of maths further…and we’re already planning for that too!

What are we doing?

To support our partner schools with Key Stage 4 from September, we’ve joined forces with five of our partner schools to update our curriculum map to full five-year secondary curriculum plan. Having worked with all the major awarding bodies on this, we are also happy to share this with schools beyond this community, but please bear in mind that it is designed to be used in conjunction with the detailed Mathematics Mastery unit guides and resources.  You can download it from our shared resources page.

So how does it work?

Just like the KS3 plan, our five-year curriculum plan emphasises depth before breadth and is cumulative in nature, building on what students have learned before and enabling them to apply their knowledge in new areas of study.  We emphasise the importance of not accelerating through content in line with the guidance from the 2014 National Curriculum:

Pupils who grasp concepts rapidly should be challenged through being offered rich and sophisticated problems before any acceleration through new content in preparation for key stage 4. Those who are not sufficiently fluent should consolidate their understanding, including through additional practice, before moving on

Here’s an edited extract from one half term in Year 10:


We’re sticking with our core principles.

We believe that that every child can succeed in mathematics, regardless of their background and prior attainment.  All students are expected to cover at least the highlighted “middle row”, which covers the content of the new Foundation Tier which we’re calling the Core.  We recognise that some students may have not followed a mastery curriculum at KS3 and so have gaps in their knowledge, so we have included some consolidation material in the top row that may need teaching before/alongside the core.  Equally, many students – and we hope in time, almost all – will also be able to access and excel at the higher material in the bottom row, especially those who grasp the core material quickly. It’s really important to us that these is seen as one curriculum for all students (it’s certainly not three pathways!), but some classes will need to work through different routes.  Here’s an example of our Learning Map for the same half term of Year 10:


Starting in the middle again, all students will study the Core material and there are options for teachers in the Mathematics Mastery partnership to plan the right level of support and challenge for their students. During Year 11, the plan also includes plenty of time for revision and deepening of understanding, in particular focusing on making links and dealing with less familiar situations. Most important of all, this isn’t a two-year or three-year course, it’s all part of a five year plan that runs through the whole of secondary school.  Here’s an extract from the Year 7 page of our plan:


Again, all students follow the same curriculum in the “middle row” but we will be providing partner schools with coaching material to help those who start Year 7 as lower attainers to catch up and then keep up.  We’re also providing ideas to challenge the quicker graspers within the same content area, rather than rushing them on to the next year’s maths – see our blog on challenging our secondary students.

What happens next?

We’re really looking forward to working with a group of our partner schools to pilot our Key Stage 4 materials from September following collaborative planning in June. We’re also continuing to grow and welcome new partners to work with us from Year 7.  We’re confident that we can enable our students to think and behave like mathematicians, not just to perform routines, ready for the challenges of Key Stage 5…and we’re already planning our mastery curriculum for A level from 2017.  Keep watching this space!

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