Mathematics Mastery speeds up pupils’ progress – and is value for money too

Blog: Ian Davies, Director of Secondary

Mathematics Mastery speeds up pupils’ progress – and is value for money too

Posted: 13/02/15

One of the questions we often get asked at Mathematics Mastery, particularly by schools interested in joining the partnership, is “How do you know the programme works?”

It’s a complex question as there are many ways in which adopting Mathematics Mastery impacts on learning of both pupils and teachers.  Even though we’ve only been working with schools for a relatively short period of time, with our pioneer schools now in their third year of partnership, we’ve already got plenty of evidence that what we’re doing works:

  • Headteachers say that the teaching of mathematics in their schools has improved
  • Headteachers are happy to recommend us to other schools
  • Numerous Ofsted inspections have praised the “new approach to mathematics” in partner schools
  • Extremely positive evaluations of our training and our school development visits
  • We have an exceptionally high retention rate – schools want to continue in the partnership
  • Great Key Stage 1 results in a large number of schools

Today, we’re pleased to be able to add another page to our evidence book!  The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and the Institute of Education (IoE) are publishing a report of a “randomised control trial” comparing achievement in mathematics in schools who have used Mathematics Mastery in their launch year to achievement in schools who haven’t.  We’re pleased with the finding that, looking at both our primary and secondary programmes together, pupils in the Mathematics Mastery schools make one month’s extra progress on average compared to pupils in the other schools after a one year “dose” of the programme.  The study, funded by the EEF, also said that the low per-pupil cost of Mathematics Mastery, which reduces further year by year, indicates the programme is cost-effective.

This is a really pleasing outcome  – trials of this kind are very rigorous.  Over 80 primary schools and 50 secondary schools were involved in the testing, with over 4000 pupils involved in each phase.  Studies like this often don’t show any progress at all, particularly in the early years of implementation and if, like ours, the programme is aimed at all pupils and not just particular groups.  What’s more, because of the large sample size, the difference in scores between the Mathematics Mastery and other schools is “statistically significant” which means the results are very unlikely to be due to chance.

As maths geeks, we’re looking forward to digging right down into the results and finding out which questions and areas we’re doing particularly well on and where we could do even better.  An interesting early result from the secondary programme is that pupils in Year 7 in the Mathematics Mastery schools not only significantly outscored pupils in the areas of mathematics covered in our Year 7 curriculum as pupils in the other schools, but they also did just as well in the areas they hadn’t even studied.  It’s early days, but this suggests that our philosophy of creating young mathematicians rather than drilling more and more routines might already be having an impact.

Whilst we are very happy with the findings of the report, we are very careful to remember that it is early days and Mathematics Mastery is certainly not about a quick fix.  Of course we’re pleased with the extra progress even after a limited time, but we’re interested in long term change and long term development and improvement.  We’re determined to work with our partner schools to show what’s possible over pupils’ whole school careers…but it’s nice to know we’ve already started to succeed!

You can find the EEF’s report by the Institute of Education, here.