Mathletics, Mindsets and Mastery.

Charlie Stripp Maths mindsets and mastery Quote from Charlie Stripp, NCETM’s Director on his blog post –

Maths, Mindsets and Mastery


From September, in addition to my training session, ‘Maximise your Mathletics’ which takes teachers through the wealth of resources and activities available on Mathletics, I shall be delivering a session entitled, ‘Mathletics, Mindsets and Mastery.’ This blog post pulls together some of the background information used to inform this session and provides further links to information on both ‘Mindsets’ and ‘Mastery.’  The interactive, hands on session, will then explore how, Mathletics, an online Maths program can be used to help pupils develop a positive mathematical mindset and progress towards ‘mastery.’

Growth Mindsets

While at Farsley Farfield, together with my colleague and friend, Andrew Wilkinson, we put together a blog which follows the journey we went on when introducing ‘Growth Mindsets’ and developing the ideas so that they became part of our every day language and part of the schools ethos.

Click on the image below to visit the blog. Using the menu in the top banner will take you to many more links which we found useful and informative.

farsley farfield

Andrew’s latest work on Growth Mindsets, can be followed on this blog


The poster above sets out the key principles of how developing a Growth Mindset helps us all to become resilient, enthusiastic and successful lifelong learners.

Follow this link to download the poster and read further details on the information in the poster.

Class Dojo have produced an excellent set of videos that explore the ‘big ideas’ behind Growth Mindsets and have presented them as stories which children will enjoy and which open up the discussions that we need to be having together with our children. Click the image below to link to the videos, discussion ideas and links to further reading and related videos.

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 5.45.22 PM

Mathematical Mindsets

When I visit schools to deliver Mathletics staff training, I usually also do a motivational Maths assembly for the pupils. During the assembly I ask the children if they think that some people are born with a better Maths brain, and even in schools where the pupils have done work on Growth Mindsets, many children will still give this statement a thumbs up.

Even when we have worked on our mindsets and feel that we have developed a ‘Growth Mindset,’ and  there seems to be some areas where we are still not so sure. Art, music, sport…. and maths, all seem areas where we are more easily convinced that some of us can, and some of just can’t.

national numeracyclick to link about Maths attitudes.

A quote from the National

‘The importance of numeracy needs to be understood by everyone and everyone needs to realise that they can become numerate with effort and support.

It is culturally acceptable in the UK to be negative about maths. We don’t talk about other life skills in this way, but we hear ‘I can’t do maths’ so often it doesn’t seem a strange thing to say (Kowsun, 2008). Maths is seen as the remit of ‘mad scientists’, ‘nerdy’ boys, and the socially inept (Epstein et al, 2010). We talk about maths as though it is a genetic gift possessed only by a rare few and inaccessible to the general public. ‘

The graphic below is from

national numeracy graphic

It was when I was doing the 1st year of a MAST (Maths Specialist Teacher program) at Sheffield Hallum university in 2011 that I read Jo Boaler’s book, The Elephant in the Classroom. This book completely changed the way I taught, not only Maths, but everything I did. From that point onwards, I no longer taught with ability groups, but with mixed ability groups that were fluid.

Jo Boaler’s latest book – Mathematical Mindsets, is (in my opinion) an absolute ‘must read’ and read again!

Jo Boaler’s website, Youcubed shares her belief and a host of materials to support the teaching of inspirational Maths.

youcubedclick to link

Watch the video below to hear Jo Boaler’s inspiration TED talk.

The poster below is downloadable from as part of a document that expands on each of the points.

positive norms

The White Rose Maths Hub has embraced the messages from Jo Boalers work and at their recent #Everyone can event they launched a brillaint video which features Jo Boaler, along with resources and a set of posters sharing Jo Boaler’s key messages.

mathshubClick to link


Prior to the 2014 Curriculum, if asked about ‘mastery’,’ I would have interpreted ‘mastery’ to mean, ‘I can do it now, I’ve mastered it.’

But what do we mean now, when we talk about ‘mastery’ in mathematics?

The National Association of Mathematics Advisors produced an excellent document in December 2015, titled the 5 Myths of Mastery in Mathematics – downloadable from this link –

In summary these 5 Myths are –

  1. Mastery in mathematics has a single clear definition
  2. Mastery in Mathematics does not allow for any differentiation
  3. There is a special curriculum which is ‘The Mastery Curriculum’
  4. Mastery in Mathematics involves repetitive practice
  5. Mastery in Mathematics means you have to use particular text books

In the first section of this document, when looking at the definitions of ‘mastery,’ the summary below of key themes and similarities across the various definitions is given –

‘Whilst there are numerous descriptions of mastery in mathematics there are some common features of the different approaches. What the approaches have in common is an emphasis on success for all and that this can be achieved by developing conceptual understanding in mathematics, with a focus on mathematical structures. Most approaches advocate keeping the whole class together, not moving on until ideas are understood and promoting understanding through a variety of representations.’

The NCTEM has many useful documents and videos available on the subject of ‘mastery in mathematics.’ provides a useful overview, with the summary below –

Mastery of maths means a deep, long-term, secure and adaptable understanding of the subject. Among the by-products of developing mastery, and to a degree part of the process, are a number of elements:

  • fluency (rapid and accurate recall and application of facts and concepts)
  • a growing confidence to reason mathematically
  • the ability to apply maths to solve problems, to conjecture and to test hypotheses.

The NCETM website also contains a presentation by Debbie Morgan, NCETM Director for Primary, on teaching for mastery.

The screen shots below summarise the term ‘Mastery in Mathematics.’

mathematics.’mastery teaching for mastery

In June 2016 NCETM published the document, The Essence of Maths Teaching for Mastery. The PDF of this useful document is available from this link.

essense of teaching for mastery

Mathletics, Mindsets and Mastery

Considering all the information above and having explored the links and delved into further reading, the session – Mathletics, Mindsets and Mastery, aims to look at how schools can use Mathletics to support their work in developing pupils Growth Mindsets / Mathematical Mindsets alongside developing a ‘mastery’ approach to Mathematics.

Each session is hosted at a school that uses Mathletics, and the events are open to both schools currently using Mathletics and also those interested in finding out more about how the program support Maths in their school. In leading the sessions, I will share ideas from my own experience of using Mathletics in schools over the last 8 years, and also ideas shared by other Mathletics using schools. The hands on, interactive session will encourage discussions and will have a Q&A session.

Session notes will be posted here and attendees will recieve the complete PPT to share with their staff, along with some Mathletics goodies!!