Ready to Progress

Updated: Mar 3

On December 3rd, London Thames Maths Hub hosted a webinar designed to support primary colleagues in making best use of the DfE/NCETM non-statutory curriculum guidance that was published in June 2020. This blog aims to distil the content to make it available to a wider audience.

The DfE (2019) advocates a teaching for mastery approach which aims to support children to develop a deep, conceptual, sustainable network of mathematical understanding (NCETM, no date). This evokes a tension with the National Curriculum (DfE, 2013) which values memorisation and recall over understanding and enquiry (CBI, 2012) and forces a counter-productive pace due to ill-considered age-appropriateness of content (NUT, 2013). In June 2020, new guidance was jointly published by the DfE and NCETM which aims to reduce this by helping ‘teachers and schools make effective use of the National Curriculum to develop primary school pupils’ mastery of mathematics’ (DfE, 2020:4). The guidance does this in three main ways which are now explored.

Prioritising key content

Five strands are identified to structure the guidance.

(DfE, 2020:8)

Within each strand, the ‘most important conceptual knowledge and understanding that pupils need’ (DfE, 2020:5) are identified and written as end of year statements. These are termed ‘ready to progress criteria’ (RPC). This aims to enable teachers to focus on teaching the essential elements of a network of mathematical understanding to depth.

Connecting content

Alongside prioritising curriculum content, the guidance aims to elicit connections between mathematical topics. Generating and strengthening links between mathematical understanding is fundamental to progress (Boaler, no date). This is done in a number of ways.

Firstly, arrows between year groups indicate where ready-to-progress criteria directly lead from one to the next:

DfE, 2020:8

Secondly, throughout the guidance, Marking Connections boxes hi