Mastery and Greater Depth
At All Saints’ staff agree that there are many definitions for mastery which could be implemented in different ways, e.g. Shanghai Maths. The aim of this document is to present what we as a staff have distilled as the essence of our approach at All Saints’. This approach is followed across all subjects.
We embrace the approach of mastery and greater depth. We interpret four stages to our approach. This language is not used when reporting attainment, as a pupil might have mastered one area of a subject, but none of the others.
- Shallow Learning: surface learning which is temporary and often lost.
- Working to Expectations: with support being able to work to the objectives of the national curriculum.
- Mastery: when a greater level of understanding is obtained , being able to work
- independently and explain ways of working.
- Greater Depth: when learning is obtained and transferred into different contexts and more demanding reasoning problems are tackled.
- The first key aspect is the move away from boosting pupils up through levels and ahead of the rest of the cohort without embedding the necessary deeper understanding first. To do this we create opportunities for deeper understanding where we expect pupils to reason and think more deeply than before. We ensure that children’s knowledge is embedded deeply as part of everyday practice with class discussions making links across the curriculum. We ensure there are opportunities for pupils to master the objectives and not just cover them. We encourage class talk which supports the thinking process, reasoning about methods and sharing insights with peers. To this end we make use of mixed ability working procedures like talk partners and mixed seating.
- The second key aspect is that we think differently about differentiation. We scaffold learning for pupils who work with support. This is to enable all to access learning. We run same day interventions. We celebrate mistakes as an integral part of learning. We move learning on from the concrete to the abstract. We teach pupils the concept of neuroplasticity, which is the ability of the brain to adapt to new ways of learning and memory. We use feedback in the form of marking, direct feedback and peer-to-peer discussion to support pupil’s understanding. We provide the correct type of intervention for potentially vulnerable pupils. We ensure misconceptions are identified earlier and recognise barriers to learning and support learners through them.
- The third key aspect is us building in metacognition (thinking about their thinking) and self-regulation (managing their own thinking) as a key skill. Critical thinking skills are taught. The ability to give and receive feedback, and particularly peer-to-peer feedback, is taught. We use strategies such as ‘pre-teaching’ and ‘pre-assessment’. We improve our quality of questioning, but also expect pupils to do the same. We set milestones in the form of success criteria and targets.
The school will continue to monitor the impact of this approach, both though anecdotal evidence and the tracking of internal data. We will continue to draw on best practices in use already at All Saints’ to deliver the best outcomes for pupils.