New Year Newsletter

A word from the team…

Happy New Year!  We hope that this newsletter finds you all well after a restful and peaceful Christmas break.  The Autumn term was one of our biggest to date with over 350 teachers and trainee teachers taking part in our workgroups, ranging from Early Years to GCSE.  As we enter the Spring term, we have many more exciting opportunities with our Level 3, and some secondary, workgroups starting. Full details can be found in below.

We will also be hosting two Chinese teachers Ms Zhang and Ms Wang at Front Street Primary School for two weeks. During this time, there will be opportunities for teachers from across the region to observe them teaching lessons on Area and Perimeter in Year 5 and Geometry in Year 2. If you haven’t done so already, you can book a place on one of our showcase events by following this link

More details about this event and reflections from our Primary Teaching for Mastery specialists on the China-England exchange can be found below.

The Spring term will also see us open recruitment for Primary schools to work alongside our 17 Teaching for Mastery Specialists, as well as our Secondary Teaching for Mastery Specialists beginning work with their eight advocate schools. Further information on both of these programmes can be found below

Finally, save the date in your diaries for our annual Primary Conference on 5th June. We have an exciting day planned, jam packed with expert key note speakers and workshops. We will be sending out details towards the end of the Spring Term via our mailing list so make sure that we have all of your details up to date. If you are already registered, you still need to update your preferences to ensure that you continue to hear from us.

Don’t forget you can always keep up to date with all of our workgroups and events via our website

England – China Exchange

During the Autumn term two of our Primary Teaching for Mastery specialists were invited to be part of the DfE’s China-England exchange programme. Martyn Kelly from Front Street Primary in Gateshead and Grace Coker from Westerhope Primary School flew out to Shanghai in November and spent two weeks observing lessons in two different Shanghai schools.

The purpose of the exchange is to further develop the implementation of mastery approaches in Martyn and Grace’s schools and their new knowledge, skills and expertise will be shared across the Hub’s mastery team as well as in the partner schools that they will be working with during the school year.

Reflecting on his time in China, Martyn Kelly captured his thoughts and experiences for us:

“I am sitting on an aeroplane back to the UK and this is my time for reflection on my Shanghai experience. What a life-changing, practice-changing and powerful fortnight it has been.

 There are a number of things that I will take from the experience, in addition to a lifetime of special memories from the trip:

The opportunity to see mastery in action was just mind-blowing. Being able to see how the teachers tailor lessons, make the steps SO incredibly small and that the text book is used as a basis to craft an intricate masterpiece of a lesson.

Real life links are so obvious and impactful and this is something easy to implement but so often neglected.

Summary of learning is important at key points in the lesson.

The dong nao jin is not simply a ‘greater depth task’, it is a well thought through segment that really pushes deeper learning but is anchored very carefully to the key learning that has taken place.

Sessions are short and although content is somewhat simple, the amount of progress is unbelievable. You have to see it to believe it!

Vocabulary is paramount and carefully planned exploratory tasks and intelligent practice help the children to learn – without wordy learning objectives and prescribed success criteria. There is no rush to expose intended learning.

Children begin a lesson focussed and ready to learn and this maintains throughout until the very final seconds.

The use of examples and non-examples highlight the concept and address misconceptions. Again, something thought through very carefully by the practitioner.

The teachers are skilled craftsmen that intricately plan and deliver simple content with such expertise and precision.

The education system in China is set up as such that everyone had the ethos that learning is crucial. This is supported by teachers, children and parents and is something that the UK aspires to.

The teachers are self-critical and reflective. The purpose and intent that is woven through each and every lesson is nothing short or incredible. The reflections that take place in regular TRGs are purposeful, open and honest.

I have learned very clearly that the steps that I take are often far too big. As a year 6 teacher, with pace and content and accountability at the forefront, means that this is more so difficult to implement fully.

My starting point is to grow the culture from the earlier years in school and to even just implement a fraction of the ideas that I have seen in Shanghai. This will have an enormous impact.

 I feel honoured, overwhelmed and incredibly thankful for the experience that has been afforded to me. This has been without question the best CPD that a teacher/maths lead/senior leader could have. I would like to thank the DfE, the maths hub, my headteacher and governors for also allowing me to take part in the Shanghai exchange and of course my colleagues that made the experience such a meaningful and memorable one for me and the host schools, staff and delightful children.  I am excited now for what the future holds for mastery in my school and beyond. I came to China thinking we were far ahead on my mastery journey and it is only now that upon reflection, I have realised we are one ‘small step’ from the very beginning.

 The impact that the visit has had will be immediate and long-lasting and I look forward to supporting my staff and other schools in their further mastery development.  Our country has a lot to learn from the Chinese methodology and pedagogy and I sincerely hope that the government continue in their support of such a worthwhile approach.”

 January will see the return leg of the China exchange where the teachers, Wang and Monica, will spend two weeks at Front Street Primary where they will be teaching in the Y5 and Y2 classes. As part of this exchange, we will be hosting two showcase events where teachers from across the region can observe a lesson first hand with the chance to discuss aspects of the lesson and pedagogy with our Teaching for Mastery team afterwards. This is always and extremely popular and inspirational event and if you would like to book a space, please do so at this link

Teaching for Mastery Programme

This year, our Teaching for Mastery team has once again expanded! We now have seven trained secondary specialists, eleven trained primary specialists with a further six primary specialists who are in their development year, training with NCETM. On completion of this training, the specialists all go on to work with schools from across our region to support them in developing Teaching for Mastery. A key component of this workgroup is schools taking part in Teacher Research Groups with the Mastery Specialists

For our Primary Team, the Autumn was the start of a new cohort of 64 schools working closely with the Mastery Specialists as part of Teacher Research Groups, who meet regularly across the year, to introduce and develop approaches to teaching for mastery.

The Work Group activity includes:

  • Two lead teachers from each school working together with the Mastery Specialist and teachers from the other Work Group schools in half-termly TRG meetings and through an online community
  • Each school receiving a termly support visit from the Mastery Specialist to observe teaching, support in-school TRGs, and work with the lead teachers and head teacher
  • The head teacher working with the Maths Hub’s leadership and other Work Group school head teachers to develop whole school policies and structures to support teaching for mastery
  • The lead teachers, supported by the head teacher, working with colleagues to develop teaching for mastery approaches in the classroom, supported by professional development activity including Teacher Research Group methods.

This programme is funded by the DfE and schools participating in it are given a grant to support the costs of releasing teachers to work with the Mastery Specialists. We are delighted that this funding is continuing into the 19-20 academic year and we will be looking to recruit 102 Primary Schools to work alongside our 17 Primary Mastery Specialists. If you would like to receive information about this recruitment, please email us here

In the Spring term, our secondary mastery team have been offering support to eight schools interested in developing teaching for mastery approaches in their departments. They will do this by working intensively with two secondary mathematics departments to understand the principles and practices associated with teaching for mastery. Work will initially begin in Key Stage 3, but it is intended that this will extend to Key Stage 4, certainly in the longer term.

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

  • The Mastery Specialist leading PD sessions with the four Mastery Advocates to enable them to understand the principles and practices associated with teaching for mastery.
  • Mastery Specialists supporting the Advocates to enable them to run PD sessions for their department colleagues; this could include shared planning (and possibly co-leading) of sessions, but the intention is for the Advocates to 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 PD 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.

If you would like further information about our Secondary Teaching for Mastery Programme, please get in touch:

NCETM have published a video and podcast about schools working in the Maths Hubs Secondary Teaching for Mastery Programme which can be found  HERE

Teaching for Mastery Readiness

We have started working with fourteen first and primary schools on a Teaching for Mastery Readiness programme. Like the primary and secondary Teaching for Mastery, this programme is designed to be bespoke to the school and aims to support the school to be in a position to fully participate in the Teaching for Mastery Programme. In November, NCETM published an article featuring one of the schools from our Hub involved in the programme and their work with Laura Tullock, our Teaching for Mastery Readiness Lead. The article, which gives more information about the programme, can be found HERE

If you feel that your school would benefit from being part of the Mastery Readiness programme, please get in touch:

NCETM Resources

This academic year, NCETM has published a range of useful resources from Primary and Secondary phases, which will support teachers in Early Years and Key Stages 1-4. The links for these are below and we hope that you find them useful.

Early Years Materials

Primary Materials

Secondary Materials

Spring Term opportunities

A number of Great North Maths Hub projects were promoted earlier in the term, and are already underway, or due to start early in the new term. However, we have some spaces left on the following workgroups:

Early Years
Key Concepts in Early Years Mathematical Development – Starts 11th January 2019.  More info and to book click HERE


Shanghai Primary Lesson Showcase – 23rd January 2019. More info and to book click HERE


Secondary Teaching Assistant Subject Knowledge Enhancement – Starts 23rd January. More info and to book click HERE

Mathematical Thinking for GCSE – Starts 29th January.  More info and to book click HERE

Level 3

Developing A Level Pedagogy – Starts 15th Jan. More info and to book click HERE

Supporting Core Maths – Starts 16th January. More info and to book click HERE


Developing mathematical understanding for SEN pupils – Starts 15th January.  More info and to book click HERE


We really look forward to working with you in the year ahead!

Best Wishes,

The Great North Maths Hub Team.











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