Myth #5: Mastery is new

‘Teaching for Mastery’ is what great teachers are doing already. The current movement to adopt a ‘mastery’ curriculum, to ‘teach for mastery’ and take a ‘mastery approach’ is just a pulling together of a whole bunch of ‘what works’. I’m pretty excited about it, but it doesn’t have to be new to be exciting.

In his ResearchEd session last month, Mark McCourt emphasised this. He showed how approaches with key features of mastery – high expectations of all learners – have been introduced on an approximate thirty year cycle.

What is new, is the National Curriculum’s different understanding of what constitutes progress. Underpinning our new curriculum is a different understanding of what constitutes progress. The expectation now is that all learners fully understand the key facts and concepts before moving on to new material. Under the old curriculum the temptation was to move pupils on to higher levels in order to show progress. They might not all have fully understood what they had learnt in previous levels with the result that learning was not fully secure. So, the expectation now is that pupils learn fewer things in greater depth.

“ the National Curriculum should focus on ‘fewer things in greater depth’, in secure learning which persists, rather than relentless, over-rapid progression…”

Tim Oates, TES, Oct 14

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