Secondary Teaching for Mastery Development Work Group

Teaching for mastery means students gaining a deep and lasting understanding of mathematical procedures and concepts. The Secondary Teaching for Mastery Development Work Group is a funded professional development programme which involves individual teachers and their departments working overtime to embed mastery into maths learning.  



Two teachers from each school will become ‘Mastery Advocates’ in their own departments and will join the Work Group. They will work closely with a Secondary Mastery Specialist to understand the principles and practices associated with teaching for mastery. They 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 (two 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 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.  



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.  



Schools that wish to participate 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 2022 to July 2023)
  • 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).



Participation in this Work Group is the first part of a long-term development for schools, with funded opportunities and free support available via the Maths Hubs network in subsequent years. Schools initially participate in a Development Work Group and should then go on to work in an Embedding and Sustaining Work Group. We believe that in a healthy education system, a balance of in-school development and external collaboration are necessary, and so Embedding and Sustaining Work Groups offer a support mechanism to enable teachers to continue to exchange ideas and develop collaboratively. In the second year, there will be three days’ worth of in-school Embedding Support from a Mastery Specialist alongside regular external meetings. In subsequent years, support is offered primarily through the external meetings, reflecting the changing balance.  



Any state-funded secondary school with an interest in developing mathematics teaching for mastery can apply. The school should identify two teachers (Mastery Advocates) who will be best placed to innovate in their own classroom and to lead developmental work across the department.  



There is no fee or charge to participating schools to take part in this Work Group. The Maths Hub meets the cost of running the Work Group. Each department will receive £2000 to enable the Mastery Advocates to work with the Secondary Mastery Specialist and thus enable them to work within their own department.  



More information about Secondary Teaching for Mastery Work Groups can be found on the NCETM website including commentary from Teachers and Head Teachers who have already been involved in the programme.


These Work Groups have now started for 2022/23 however applications are now open for our 2023/24 Work Group, please follow the link below: