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Maths Mastery

All pupils at St Mary Cray Primary Academy learn mathematics through a mastery approach. To find out more please click on one of the headings below:

 Mastery principles

The key principles and features of our approach are as follows:

A belief that all pupils are capable of achieving high standards in math’s

  • The large majority of pupils progress through the curriculum at the same pace.
  • Each Unit is taught methodically in a broad way unit by unit to foster deep conceptual and procedural knowledge.
  • Each unit should be split into phases. Each phase should focus on one theme of the unit
  • Each phase of a unit is taught with a high emphasis on context. Phases should move a sequence of concrete based lessons, moving to pictorial, moving to abstract
  • Practice and consolidation play a key role, but once fluency and understanding are gained then children should be given opportunities to broaden their understanding around the concept, with increasingly complex problems over time.
  • Children should be encouraged to recall and apply their knowledge learning rapidly and accurately to a variety of problems
  • Children should be taught to reason mathematically by following lines of enquiries, conjecturing relationships, develop arguments, justify or prove using mathematical language
  • Teachers should use precise questioning to test knowledge and assess pupils regularly to identify those requiring intervention
  • Teachers should actively seek opportunities to use, ‘Learning outside the Classroom’ to support and enhance mathematics and to make links to other areas of the curriculum

Pre-teaching Maths 

Two weeks prior to teaching a unit of maths teachers administer a cold test assessment based on the national curriculum expectation for the previous year and the current year. Children who have gaps at this stage are provided with some formal pre-teaching before the unit commences.  


Units of lessons are planned by the year group teachers in collaboration with the maths co-ordinator to ensure that they are cohesive, structured in line with maths mastery, relevant to national curriculum objectives, progressive and related in terms of models and resources used by previous year group. 

Whilst focus on the specifics of the units, teachers consider connections within the planning to other areas of maths and encourage children to make those connections. 


Maths, is generally taught in the first period of the day. Each lesson is scheduled for 50 minutes.   Each unit is taught in one concentrated block, (see mastery) usually running for three to four weeks.  

There is no specific format for lessons, however in line with mastery they follow a sequence of concrete based activities, moving to pictorial, moving to abstract.

Individual lessons are structured around a process of modelled work, moving to guided work, moving to independent work.

Independent work is progressive in nature.


  • Children are not put into different sets and in general work on the same tasks and engage in common discussions.  There is no differentiation in content taught but the questioning and scaffolding individual pupils receive in class can vary as they work through problems.
  • Children who grasp concepts quickly are challenged through more demanding problems which deepen their knowledge of the same content.
  • Pupils who experience difficulties in the lesson or display misconceptions are identified quickly and receive immediate support and quick intervention. 


Maths noticeboards reflect the maths unit currently being taught. They embrace an element of working wall to support the learning and can be interactive, but they also display children’s work in the form of WAGOLL (What a good one looks like).


Maths homework is given out once a week on Friday to be returned on Thursday. Children are encouraged to spend 30 minutes on their maths homework.  Part of Thursday’s lesson is given over to marking the work with the children.

Children who do not complete the homework or have not understood the homework may need to go over it at a later stage – Probably that lunchtime.    

Teachers use the Home/School Maths homework book as a first port of call. This provides homework related to the unit of work being covered.  Additional – more challenging homework can be handed out at the teacher’s discretion.

 Mental maths sessions

A 15 minute discreet session is be administered up to 4 times a week at the start of the afternoon. This is a high profile feature of this current year as it is designed to close a recognised gap in our children’s learning. 

 Quick Intervention

Children who did not fully understand the lesson at first point of teaching are given an opportunity to run through the key points again later on in the day. In this way we help try to keep the children up to speed.