Focusing on big ideas – blocking together concepts with very close links – leads to greater curriculum coherence.

 – Helen Drury (2018)

Coherence underpins the other 4 principles of mastery. It is about developing a comprehensive learning overview that focuses on the journey of conceptual understanding by ensuring planning is built around incremental steps. Explicit links need to be made throughout this journey in order for children to develop their mathematical thinking and their flexibility in understanding. Planning will predict and prevent misconceptions developing, while every step in learning is carefully thought through to ensure children are noticing key mathematical structures.

A long term overview will focus on:

  • Representations that will be used (concrete, pictorial and abstract)
  • Conceptual journey from start to end
  • Difficult points in the journey
  • Possible misconceptions
  • Variation
  • Opportunities for depth
  • Connections that can be made
  • Stem sentences to support reasoning

Coherence is also mirrored within the lesson. A suggested lesson cycle, based on the Shanghai teaching methods explored the following:

Useful links

NCETM Primary PD Materials:

NCETM Secondary PD Materials:

MathsHUBS Solent