Mastering Number

Supporting pupils in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 to develop good number sense

Mastering Number

This project aims to secure firm foundations in the development of good number sense for all children from Reception through to Year 1 and Year 2. The aim over time is that children will leave KS1 with fluency in calculation and a confidence and flexibility with number. Attention will be given to key knowledge and understanding needed in Reception classes, and progression through KS1 to support success in the future.

Who can take part?

Lead participants from Work Group schools will be three teachers, one each from Reception, Year 1 and Year 2, with some support given to subject leaders and headteachers.

This programme is open to all state-funded primary schools in England. If oversubscribed, priority for places will be given to schools with a high proportion of disadvantaged children.

What is involved?

Work Group lead participants will be supported by central training and resources. There is an expectation that they will provide a daily teaching session for all children of 10 to 15 minutes, in addition to their normal maths lesson. There is also the expectation that they will contribute to an online community to share practice and engage in critical reflection.

In this video, Debbie Morgan, the NCETM’s Director for Primary, explains the rationale for the programme and how the abacus-like rekenrek can be used to help children develop confidence and fluency with number. Use of a rekenrek is one element of the Mastering Number Programme, and participating schools will be provided with sets of the equipment free of charge.

What will you learn?

Participants will:

  • develop skills in working in a professional learning community, reflecting with other colleagues on their own practice, and refining skills through support and challenge within a community
  • develop a secure understanding of how to build firm mathematical foundations with a stronger subject and pedagogical understanding for EYFS and KS1
  • work to develop intentional teaching strategies focused on developing fluency in calculation and number sense for ALL children
  • develop understanding and their use of appropriate manipulatives to support their teaching of mathematical structures.

What is the cost?

The Mastering Number project is fully funded by the Maths Hubs Programme so is free to participating schools.

How can you find out more?

There is an FAQ section at the bottom of this page.

We've also produced a flyer summarising the programme. Download it to share with colleagues in your own and other schools.

What should you do next?

Download and complete the application form electronically, then email it to your local Maths Hub.

Early application is recommended to avoid disappointment. You are welcome to submit your application prior to attending one of the three briefings.

Download application


This section aims to help schools who are considering engaging in the Mastering Number Programme from September 2021. This should be read along with the application form above.

One teacher from each year group will need to act as a lead participant – they will register themselves, attend the national live sessions and the self-study online sessions. They will be able to download the secure resources and should support ALL teachers in their year group to follow the programme.

We really want schools who can commit to the whole programme, but please contact your local Maths Hub to express your interest. They will be able to advise you about this and other opportunities for 2021/22.

Yes – children would benefit from the content that is appropriate for Reception, Year 1 and Year 2.

Mastering Number fully supports the teaching for mastery approach for schools, teachers and children. If your school is already engaged in Mastery Readiness, Development or Embedding Work Groups with your local hub then these programmes should take priority. Mastering Number could be your first step into mastery. If you have reached the Sustaining stage, it would be an excellent programme to continue to refine and develop further.

No – this is a programme for Reception, Year 1 and Year 2.

No – the resources are designed to be used alongside engagement with the national sessions and with the Work Group.

Yes – provided that you continue with the programme.

Teachers will not all need to be released at the same time, but it will be on the same morning or afternoon. So, there will be a Reception session, a Year 1 session and then a Year 2 session on one day. Different arrangements will be put in place for headteachers and maths leads. Very small schools that have a Reception/Y1/Y2 class with a sole teacher will need to release the teacher for the whole morning or afternoon as he/she should attend all three sessions.

Much of the work will be in class, and planning using the resources supplied. Protected time will need to be given to the online, self-led sessions and for teachers to understand resources and reflect on their planning. Teachers will also need to engage in the online community little and often.

Yes – they are encouraged to apply: the materials and professional development opportunities will be for Reception, Year 1 and Year 2. Teachers will need to adapt and plan for their classes as appropriate.

Headteachers and subject leads will need to engage in recorded sessions and resources tailored to their role at points through the year. They will need to ensure staff are fully aware of the expectations, ensure time is given for teachers to review the resources, focus on the professional development together, and fully engage with the local Work Group.

The plan at the moment is that each school will receive 60 rekenreks. Classes will have to be prepared to share sets and sanitise between use. All materials will only be available for schools who are fully engaged in the programme.

This is year-group, class- and school-context dependent. Schools should make a decision about this: you may choose to add this short 15-minute session and shorten your other maths session.

Mastering Number in the Reception year will cover a much greater proportion of the curriculum than it will in KS1, although not all. The planning is for four days per week for ten weeks each term, so there will be time for other areas of mathematics, such as geometry and measures.

Yes – we think so, this is a structured, progressive programme which focuses on securely developing children's deep understanding of number concepts and facts. The resources and support for teacher thinking that you will receive are very carefully planned, the Mastering Number session could replace your maths meeting.

Mastering number will develop number sense and fluency in number facts. This is relevant to all approaches and will complement any scheme or textbook.

Yes - you will have access to the overview as well as individual session plans and suggestions for embedding the learning in other contexts.

We are expecting all Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 classes to engage.

No, this is about a whole class moving forward together. Teachers assistants will gain a lot from the programme which is aimed at developing a deep understanding and securing number concepts for all pupils.

If you have part-time teachers, you need to nominate the person who is better-suited to leading this work, and they will need to attend the session that they are allocated - this will be less than two hours once a term.

Maths Hubs will contact you before the end of the summer term if you applied in June. There is another recruitment window now that lasts until mid-September.

Please complete the form with the headteacher’s name and the teachers that you do know.
Applications are still open: apply for the school now and send your teachers’ details to your hub if you are successful.

The professional development will be suitable for all levels of teachers. However, in several form entry schools, the teacher attending will need to support their other Year 1 teachers, for example. Therefore this may affect a school's decision to send an NQT, but all are welcome.

The programme will not need rekenreks at the beginning and they are introduced later in Reception. Each session is not totally dependent on their use, and online rekenreks are available and appropriate for some elements of the programme. It is not essential that each class has a Mastering Number session at the same time as other classes, so resources can be shared. If you choose to purchase rekenreks, please see the image on the NCETM website to check the arrangement of beads.

Yes – although there will be clear areas of consistency across the year groups, the information and content in each session will be year-group specific.

  • Primary


All Maths Hubs

Can I take part?

Yes - contact your local hub

Project Code


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