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 over time to embed mastery into maths learning.  



A Work Group consists of pairs of teachers (Mastery Advocates) from two or more schools. These Mastery Advocates will work closely with a Secondary Mastery Specialist to develop their understanding of the principles and practices associated with teaching for mastery and apply them in their own classrooms. When ready, and supported by the Mastery Specialist, they will collaborate with teachers within their own departments to embed these principles and practices more widely. Work will initially focus on Key Stage 3, but it is intended that this will extend to Key Stage 4.

The design of the Work Group will be bespoke for each department, dependent on their current understanding of teaching for mastery, and tailored to the needs of the Mastery Advocates and their own stages of development, but initially is likely to include:

  • Mastery Specialists leading professional development sessions with four or more Mastery Advocates (two from each school) to enable them to understand the principles and practices associated with teaching for mastery
  • Advocates observing the Secondary Mastery Specialist in the specialist’s own school with an opportunity to deconstruct the lesson
  • Joint planning of individual lessons, sequences of lessons or longer units of work
  • The Mastery Specialist observing a lesson and reflecting on their observations with Advocates.

When ready, the focus will shift to supporting the Mastery Advocates working with their own departments. At this point the work is likely to include:

  • 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
  • Mastery Specialists working alongside Advocates to support other departmental members, as appropriate
  • Mastery Specialists observing and reflecting on their observations with the Mastery Advocates, this might be related to: a joint observation, a professional development session, a departmental meeting or a planning meeting
  • 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.

It is important to recognise that sustained change and development in maths teaching requires a long-term commitment, and the Development Work Group is the first stage of substantial support offered by Maths Hubs. There is an expectation that schools will continue in subsequent years. Departments will continue to work internally on their own practices and systems supported by a Secondary Mastery Specialist, but in parallel with this they join a wider community of schools who are all also working on developing teaching for mastery. These wider groups offer opportunities for ongoing support, development, and practice exchange.



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 Mastery Advocates to develop teaching for mastery in their own classroom and then across their department. All members of the mathematics department will work collaboratively to explore the principles and practices associated with teaching for mastery set out in the NCETM’s Essence of Mathematics Teaching for Mastery. Ultimately, they will be encouraged to develop departmental classroom practices in line with these principles. 



Schools that wish to participate in the Work Group must commit to the following:

  • The Mastery Advocates will both be released to attend a minimum of four separate half-day meetings (or equivalent) during the academic year
  • The Mastery Advocates will be released to participate in school-based 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 Mastery Advocate teachers during the academic year
  • The Mastery Advocates 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 Mastery Advocates to undertake these development tasks
  • The Mastery Advocates 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)
  • Schools will continue in subsequent years with the Sustaining Work Group.



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 Sustaining Work Group. We believe that in a healthy education system, a balance of in-school development and external collaboration are necessary, and so 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 i.e. at least one should be the head of department or second in department, the Key Stage 3 lead or someone with a similar role.



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.


We are no longer accepting applications for this Work Group, however if you would like to express an interest in our 2024/25 Work Group, please complete our expression of interest form linked below: