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Becoming a Primary Mastery Specialist

by Sally Prosser-Betts (March 2023)

This time last year, I was busy preparing my application to become part of the Primary Mastery Specialist Programme for the academic year 2022/23. If I were to be successful, I would become part of the Cohort 8 teachers embarking on this highly regarded training programme. Following an interview process, which involved the Strategic and Primary Maths Hub leads observing me teach a maths lesson and asking me a range of questions about Teaching for Mastery, I was lucky enough to be accepted.

What is the Primary Mastery Specialist Programme?

Primary Mastery Specialists are classroom practitioners who develop expertise in the mastery approach to teaching maths. This expertise is fostered through a rigorous and interactive training programme.

The first year of the programme (which I am currently on) is the development year, where you:

  • participate in three two-day residential professional development events led by the NCETM – including Debbie Morgan (Director of Primary for NCETM) herself!

  • broaden your own understanding of, and skills in, teaching maths for mastery in your own classroom;

  • work with colleagues in your own school to develop teaching for mastery approaches across your school;

  • lead a pilot Teacher Research Group with teachers from interested local schools;

  • collaborate with the Maths Hub’s leadership and the other Maths Hub Mastery Specialists.

In the second year, the training focus shifts to developing Mastery Specialists in their role of working with other schools through a variety of work, including leading Work Groups, which support schools to develop, embed or sustain their approaches to teaching for mastery.

The training so far

I did not have the best start to the training. As I sat down with my coffee and croissant ready to start day one of my first residential, I received a phone call from my school saying that Ofsted would be coming tomorrow and could I please come back! The NCETM could not have been more supportive about this and arranged for me to attend the training in a different region.

The initial two days were jam-packed with exceptional CPD. There was a particular focus on developing our subject and pedagogical knowledge of addition and subtraction. Alongside rich training materials and highly knowledgeable trainers, we watched and became part of mastery lessons. This really allowed us to put ourselves in our students’ shoes. There were so many opportunities to have reflective discussions with our peers, to think deeply about the mathematics and how we can best support children’s learning of mathematics. We took this theory into practice on the second day by planning a lesson on addition and subtraction with another teacher in the same year group. I found this to be a valuable part of the session as the collaboration really supported my thinking process.

What happened after the residential?

If you have been part of a Maths Hub Work Group before, you will be familiar with the intersessional tasks that are set. We were tasked with:

  • starting to work with a teacher in our own school to develop teaching for mastery in their classroom;

  • setting up an intervention for a targeted group of children in our own class to support their fluency with additive facts;

  • reflecting on one of the big ideas in our teaching for mastery within our own classroom.

What next?

I will soon be attending my second residential where we will be given time to feedback on our intersessional tasks. I have seen many positive changes to my practice through undertaking these tasks alongside my increased subject and pedagogical knowledge.

This time there will be a focus on developing subject and pedagogical knowledge of multiplication and division and we will be visiting a host school to observe a teaching for mastery lesson.

I feel extremely fortunate to be part of such an inspiring CPD programme and I am very much looking forward to continuing on this journey.

What do to if you are interested in applying:

If you think that you would like to become a Mastery Specialist then you can find out more and how to apply here:

The closing date is 31 March 2023.

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