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English adoption of maths mastery 'progressing slowly'

31/08/2017 Kelly

England's educational system is progressing gradually but slowly in its adoption of Asian-style maths mastery teaching, according to a new report.

Analysis from the Financial Times has revealed that so far, few textbooks have been made available for use in the teaching of the mastery approach to mathematics, which focuses on ensuring that every student in a class has a full and deep understanding of a given concept before moving on to the next one.

In July 2016, the Department for Education unveiled plans to introduce the mastery approach to 8,000 schools over a four-year period, resulting in eight different publishers producing textbooks for use in this programme.

However, to date, only one textbook called Maths: No Problem - produced by a UK-based independent publisher of the same name - has been officially accepted by the government for inclusion, meaning that teachers will be limited in their choice of materials until other books are approved.

Schools and publishers are also still in the process of considering how best to adapt the mastery approach to UK schools, with many of the textbooks developed so far having been direct translation of Asian learning materials, while others are doing more to tailor their content to suit the English curriculum.

Danielle Mason, head of research at the Education Endowment Foundation, said: "Evidence suggests mastery learning has promise. But we also know it can be challenging to implement well in the classroom.

"Textbooks are just one part of the package schools need and, as with any new teaching programme, we would recommend its impact on children's attainment is evaluated before a national rollout."

Despite these delays, the Department for Education has noted that 280 mastery specialists have been trained so far, with plans in place to increase this by 140 every year so over the next three years, meaning that by 2020 there will be 700 specialists available to provide training for other teachers in around 8,000 schools.

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