Some students believe they are poor at particular subject and once they cannot master an exercise or solve a problem, they give up. Similarly other students are slower in mastering ideas and solving exercises than others, but that doesn’t mean they cannot learn it. There is nothing that it is fixed.
Normally, if a student cannot master a piece of knowledge or skill, we would try and get them to catch up. Although at some point, we have to move on to the next topic and those who were not able to catch up, would struggle more and more, and eventually fall far behind with gaps in knowledge and skills. They would become the students that “just weren’t that good at X”.
Mastery learning aims to change that; it requires extra explanation, over learning and revisiting of misconceptions.
When someone starts Karate they usually start on a white belt, and only when they have mastered those beginning skills do they move on to the yellow belt. It is the same when we learn a musical instrument. Mastery focuses on mastering the topic before you move on to a more advance one. Mastery aims to retain more and more information as time goes on by adapting the teaching and learning so that we secure knowledge from our short term into our long term memory. Depth of knowledge is valued over the speed of learning and founded on the basis that all students can achieve.
Here at Brixham College, all subjects at KS3 will have a Mastery Curriculum and use Mastery in their day to day subjects. Knowledge and skills build, spaced, interleaved and revisited throughout Years 7 – 9 and teachers use a variety of ways of being able to explain an idea or concept in order to support student’s depth of knowledge. Misconceptions are continually addressed during the lesson and not at the end of a unit, through a variety of low stake and high stake testing that assesses whether a student has mastered the current or previous knowledge or skill. At the start of every lesson is a quick ‘Do Now’ activity to revisit previous knowledge or independently complete a set of tasks to prepare for the lesson. All students will have a Knowledge Organiser from which their ‘Seminar Study’ will be set every week to either complete at home or school. This prepares students for their lesson or revisits the learning from previous lessons. Fewer topics are studied but at greater depth allowing time and space for students to grapple with the same challenging content. Challenging and unfamiliar vocabulary in each subject is studied at greater depth so that learners can master and the word and elevate their responses. Students are presented with what Mastered looks like for each unit and how they can make progress from one stage to another.
At KS3 Assessment Criteria builds from one year to another allowing for a building block approach throughout each subject which then differentiates so that students can see what they need to do in order to move forward to the next stage. This criteria is then used for Lesson Objectives and in Marking and Feedback.
Year 7 Student
Mastery underpins the knowledge and skills for the next phase and prepares students for GCSE and A Level. Teachers apply the 6 principles to teaching whereby ‘Making Every Lesson Count’ Through continuous assessments teachers are able to put in intervention strategies to address gaps in knowledge or skills whilst continually revising and practicing crucial concepts.
The 6 Principles:
Challenge – To ensure the GCSE criteria is applied throughout with high expectations for all students
Explanation – To ensure there is a variety of opportunities to embed ideas
Modelling – To ensure students understand what excellence looks like in each subject
Practice – To ensure misconceptions are addressed with knowledge and skills revised regularly
Questioning – To ensure questioning deepens and develops thinking
Feedback – To ensure that teaching is adapted on the back of feedback to students.