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14th June 2023 - Catch Up® Numeracy and Maths Mastery – Parallel Approaches

If you have any connection to numeracy related education with children aged 5 to 14, you will have found it hard to avoid the concept of maths mastery in recent years. The maths mastery approach in the UK, led by the NCETM (The National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics) (1) has been at the forefront of maths and numeracy education for the past ten years and is now well established in a majority of schools across the UK.

At its heart, maths mastery is a teaching and learning approach that aims for all pupils to develop deep understanding of maths rather than being able to memorise key procedures or resort to rote learning. However, we should not be surprised that this is not a new approach, having foundations in the 1-to-1 teaching philosophy of Aristotle in Ancient Greek times. More recently, this concept was developed by Carleton Washbourne in the early 20th century, followed by formal codification by Bloom (yes, that Bloom … of Bloom’s taxonomy) in the 1950s/60s. For more information on the historical development of the mastery approach, look no further than Mark McCourt, whose work in this field has been at the forefront of developments and understanding. (2)

Catch Up® recognise the values and key principles behind the maths mastery approach. We have been delighted to see many features that are consistent across our approaches, albeit that mastery is applied to whole class first teaching whilst Catch Up® Numeracy is focussed on 1-to-1 numeracy intervention. Identifying these parallel features enables us to better understand the role that Catch Up® Numeracy can play as a focussed intervention that directly supports a struggling student’s re-engagement with whole class learning, which is a fundamental requirement.

Some key features of the mastery approach which directly correlate with Catch Up® Numeracy philosophy and practice can be found here.

The value of this closely matched philosophy and pedagogy between Catch Up® Numeracy and the maths mastery approach is that pupils who have received support through the Catch Up® Numeracy intervention will be able to move back, quite naturally, into a whole class maths mastery learning environment. Experiencing a consistent approach, whether they recognise it or not, between the expectations in a maths mastery class and in a Catch Up® Numeracy intervention session will enable pupils to:

  • feel that the Catch Up® Numeracy session is consistent with what is happening in class

  • build confidence and resilience in their numeracy skills and practice

  • allow them to see value in the Catch Up® Numeracy intervention sessions

  • know that when they move away from the intervention, it will be with confidence, stronger core numeracy skills and an ability to engage pro-actively with the whole class maths mastery teaching approach

To find out more about how Catch Up® Numeracy can support your struggling learners contact our team, either via our website or email us

3 NCETM Model of 5 Big ideas for Maths Mastery (shown below)

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