South Asian Mastery Methods of Teaching Improving UK Pupils' Maths Comprehension

  • Tes study of 1,100 teachers finds mastery approach improves attainment & engagement
  • New digital hub offers free maths mastery schemes of work and subject knowledge progression guides

A survey from digital education company Tes shows that UK teachers believe mastery methods for teaching of maths are having a positive impact in UK classrooms:

  • Six in 10 of the country’s 220,000 primary school teachers are already in their first years of using the new maths techniques.
  • Half have observed improved attainment levels.
  • Six in 10 stated mastery has raised engagement.
  • Results reflect teaching confidence, with over 80% confident in their ability to teach maths.

Tes has launched a collection of maths education resources to help more schools looking to use the Shanghai and Singapore approach. The hub offers subject knowledge support and guidance on mastery and organises quality-assured teacher created resources for year group teaching. It was devised in collaboration with the White Rose Maths Hub and Mathematics Mastery and is available at and will be expanded over time.

The hub breaks new ground for open classroom resources. It uses the organising principles of the mastery curriculum for primary maths and maps resources to learning objectives for teaching by year group. Access to the growing bank of resources provides context and meaning for teachers on the mastery journey.

Teacher created resources are in demand. The survey showed that less than a third of teachers have access to a textbook and 65% don’t have access to school budgets for resources. 45% of teachers are creating their own for the teaching of mastery. Since September 2016, over 430,000 teachers have downloaded 14 million free resources from primary maths pages on Almost 250,000 teachers have contributed to the Tes primary teaching community forums in the last year.

Laura Beeson, Assistant Head Teacher at Primrose Hill Primary School in London says: “We are still on the start of our mastery journey. It is important that we don't see the Shanghai approach as simply a method that we can pick up and use in our own school settings. The differences both within our school systems and culture are vast. It is up to us as practitioners to look at the fundamental values of the approach and see how they can be implemented in our own UK school settings.

As a school we have started by focusing on three of the main aspects of mastery teaching: taking slow steps and dedicating more time to concepts before moving on, the use of models and images to support understanding and the importance of variation - seeing the same concept in many different ways. Finding resources that contain that variation of the same concept is one of the main barriers for our teachers. The Tes primary maths mastery space is a central place to look for this - giving teachers a starting point.”

Brigitte Ricou-Bellan, Managing Director of Digital at Tes says: “The teaching for mastery hub on is a dynamic resource that will develop and improve with the input from the active Tes community. It will be an important support for primary schools across the UK and teachers worldwide. Teachers spend on average seven to eight hours a week preparing their lessons. Classroom resources play a vital role in relieving teacher workload. They can also improve access to quality materials in new subject areas.”

Tony Staneff, White Rose Maths Hub Lead says: “As a hub we are passionate about supporting teachers to help children become successful mathematicians who enjoy maths. We believe that at the heart of achieving this is the teaching for mastery approach. Maths Hubs across the country are working together to support schools to harness the power of this method.  The White Rose Maths Hub offers training and a range of resources to support teachers, including our mastery based schemes of learning and assessments. We are delighted to be working with TES to support even more schools to access our resources which will help them to explore how this approach can transform outcomes for children and young people.”

Dr Helen Drury, Executive Director of Mathematics Mastery, says: ‘We are thrilled to be working with Tes and the White Rose Maths Hub to make teaching for mastery more accessible to teachers across the country. Providing high-quality classroom resources is an important way of enabling teachers to concentrate on what they do best – teaching. We are looking forward to engaging with teachers within the Tes community and giving them a taster of what our programme can offer. For maximum impact, we believe these resources should be combined with ongoing professional development which supports subject knowledge and confidence.’ 

Notes to editors

Study on the efficacy of classroom resources

study by a group of Stanford University professors has underlined the quality and efficacy of classroom resources. A survey of nearly ten thousand teachers on found that almost all teachers found online educational resources to be high-quality and relevant to the classroom. Nearly all participants (90%) rated the resources they used as above-average in both quality and relevance, and more than 30% gave the maximum score for both categories. 

The survey found that of all the materials teachers download from the marketplace, two out of three are actually used in the classroom – suggesting that after downloading and reviewing a particular resource, teachers are likely to put it to use. This usage rate remained relatively constant across different types of resource (worksheets, games, flashcards) and across subject matter.

Teachers also reported that online educational resources positively affect their day-to-day classroom experience. More than two-thirds of participants reported that using Tes materials had a strong positive impact on the quality of their instruction, helping them develop effective lessons, engage students, and introduce new pedagogical methods. Teachers also felt very strongly that access to online resource marketplaces enabled them to be part of a community where teachers can learn from each other.

Further reading

Mastery guide, National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics

Maths hub programme, Department for Education

South Asia methods roll out in English schools, Department for Education