London South West Maths Hub

Work Groups

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Secondary Teaching for Mastery Development Work Groups


In 2019/20 all Maths Hubs are participating in a Network Collaborative Project addressing secondary mathematics teaching for mastery. As part of this project, Secondary Mastery Specialists in each hub area will be offering support to schools interested in developing teaching for mastery approaches in their maths departments. 


What is the background to these Work Groups?

In 2015/16, each Maths Hub identified a lead secondary school to participate in a China-England exchange, with teachers from these schools visiting Shanghai before hosting Shanghai teachers later in the year. The lead schools have continued to explore key lessons for developing teaching for mastery in secondary schools.

In summer 2016, Maths Hubs and the NCETM decided to build upon the successful Primary Mastery Specialist programme and develop a cohort of Secondary Mastery Specialists.  In 2019/20 Mastery Specialists from both Cohorts 1 and 2 will be available to work with teachers from schools in a Work Group.


What is involved with being part of the Work Group?

Two teachers from each of two schools will become ‘Mastery Advocates’ in their own departments and will form the Work Group.  They will work closely with a Secondary Mastery Specialist to understand the principles and practices associated with teaching for mastery and will begin to work in their own classrooms and then with teachers within their own departments to embed these principles and practices with the support of the specialist. Work will initially begin in Key Stage 3, but it is intended that this will extend to Key Stage 4.

Work will be bespoke for each department, tailored to the needs of the teachers and their own stages of development, but is likely to include:

  • Mastery Specialists leading professional development sessions with the four Mastery Advocates (2 from each school) to enable them to understand the principles and practices associated with teaching for mastery
  • Mastery Specialists supporting the Advocates to enable them to run professional development sessions for their department colleagues; this could include shared planning (and possibly co-leading) of sessions, with the intention that the Advocates take the leading role in working with their departments
  • Advocates observing the secondary Mastery Specialist in the Specialist’s own school
  • The Mastery Specialist observing and giving feedback to Advocates – this might be of, and following, a lesson, a professional development session, a departmental meeting or a planning meeting
  • Joint planning of individual lessons, sequences of lessons or longer units of work
  • Mastery Specialists working alongside Advocates to support other departmental members, as appropriate
  • Mastery Specialists working alongside Advocates to develop schemes of work and other departmental systems and structures to allow for a full teaching for mastery approach.


One of the Mastery Advocates from each school should be an experienced teacher with substantial responsibility in the department, and the drive and authority to lead change.  This could be the Head of Department or Second in Department, the Key Stage 3 Lead or someone with a similar role.

The other Mastery Advocate from each school should have an interest in leading departmental developments and ideally would have substantial teaching experience, but in some circumstances could be a very keen, recently qualified teacher or a very committed non-specialist teacher.


What are the benefits for participating schools?

The Work Groups provide an opportunity for your school to engage in high-quality, sustained, collaborative professional development and participate in an important national project. The aim of these groups is to support participating teachers in developing teaching for mastery in their own classroom and across their department and to support the setting up of Teacher Research Groups (TRGs) in the participant schools. (Teacher Research Groups will comprise several or all members of the mathematics department and will typically explore aspects of pedagogy to determine what works well for them). As this Work Group is still in a development phase, it will also be important to learn lessons about the design and planning of TRG activities so that the processes can be refined for future use.


What are the expectations of participating schools and teachers?

Schools participating in the Work Group must commit to the following:

  • The Work Group teachers will both be released to attend a minimum of four separate half-day meetings during the year (September 2019 to July 2020)
  • The Work Group teachers will be released to participate in in-school meetings and development activities with the Mastery Specialist. The timings of these will be agreed locally and will amount to approximately four to six days between the two teachers during the academic year
  • The Work Group teachers will engage in certain tasks (as planned and negotiated with the specialist) to support their ongoing professional development between each of the meetings
  • The school’s senior leadership will fully support the Head of Department and Work Group teachers to undertake these development tasks
  • The Work Group teachers will contribute to the final reporting and evaluation of the Work Group. (Note: Feedback and comments, quoted from discussions and lesson observations, and data, qualitative or quantitative, will be anonymised before inclusion).