Teaching White Rose Maths Mastery to Primary Pupils

Primary students doing maths activities on a white board

White Rose Maths is an organisation that has become a thought leader in the world of maths education. They’ve changed how teachers approach maths lessons and helped children all around the UK adopt a positive, growth mindset when tackling number problems and maths concepts.

The White Rose Maths motto is “Everyone Can Do Maths: Everyone Can!” and for years, they’ve been proving that there’s no such thing as someone who can’t do maths. The idea behind this organisation and their approach to teaching maths is that with the right support, guidance and resources, all children can become confident and competent in mathematics.

In short, they take a maths mastery approach to maths education. And this approach has been making waves in primary schools. Teachers are seeing that when they teach for whole-class mastery, there’s a marked improvement in the progress of lower-attaining learners and all pupils are more willing to embrace mathematical challenges, encouraged by the belief that everyone can succeed if they put their mind to it and put the effort in.

So if you’re hoping to adopt the mastery approach in your classroom during maths lessons, you could be on the brink of unlocking your class’s full mathematical potential. But if you’re not sure how to teach White Rose Maths mastery, here are some tips to help you get started.

Ensure All Pupils Have the Same Opportunities to Learn

White Rose Maths mastery is about helping whole classes grasp maths lessons. All children in your class should progress at a similar pace, and no one should be allowed to fall behind.

You can give extra support to the children who need it to help them keep up, not catch up. As for high attaining pupils, rather than letting them move on to new topics while others continue coming to grips with the lesson at hand, give them the chance to consolidate and deepen their understanding with more challenging tasks and activities within the same learning objective.

This way you can make sure all children have the same opportunities to learn and develop a good understanding of topics before moving on to new content.

Focus on Deepening Children’s Understanding

For children to master maths, they need to consolidate their knowledge and understanding of each topic, rather than speeding through the curriculum. With strong foundational knowledge, they’ll be better able to tackle more challenging topics and number problems and they’ll find it easier to extend and build on their knowledge. And when children consolidate what they’ve learned, they benefit from a lasting understanding of lessons — the skills they’ve mastered will stay with them throughout their academic lives and into adulthood.

So when teaching for White Rose Maths mastery, make sure you allow students enough time to consolidate their understanding of each lesson and each White Rose Maths small step. You should also encourage deep learning by giving pupils the opportunity to explore maths concepts with tasks and activities with different levels of difficulty and complexity. Children should have the chance to explore a range of methods for applying their skills and understanding to different contexts.

Don’t Forget the Concrete-Pictorial-Abstract (CPA) Approach

The Concrete-Pictorial-Abstract (CPA) approach ties into White Rose Maths mastery and deep learning. Children should be given the chance to understand and explain what they’ve learned by ‘doing’ first of all, using concrete objects.

Then they’ll move on to using pictorial representations such as images, graphs or diagrams to solve problems. And finally, once they have a good understanding of the topic, they should be able to take an abstract approach and solve maths problems using abstract concepts and symbols. For example, if a maths problem read ‘Lucy has 18 sweets. Simon has 12 sweets. How many do they have altogether?’ children in the abstract stage should be able to interpret this as 18+12=30.

To help children work towards mastery it’s a good idea to move back and forth between the CPA stages.

Regularly Assess Children’s Progress

Because White Rose Maths mastery encourages whole classes to progress at a similar pace and move through the curriculum together, it’s important to check children’s progress and make sure no one is falling behind.

Informal assessments can check children’s understanding of different topics and help you see whether or not they’ve met learning objectives.

If your whole class has a good understanding of the topics you’ve covered so far, you can move on knowing that pupils are ready for more challenging lessons. Or if you see that some children are struggling with certain topics, you can plan consolidation lessons to help them get to where they need to be before progressing, or you could make arrangements so that lower attaining pupils get the support they need.

At Master the Curriculum, we’re big supporters of the White Rose Maths mastery approach. That’s why we offer thousands of resources that you can use to teach for mastery. From mini-assessments to maths worksheets, teaching slides, reasoning booklets, and interactive maths videos, we have a huge range of learning materials that can make your life easier and all of our resources are aligned with the White Rose Maths framework. Start accessing our resources by signing up for a free or premium membership!

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