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Mastery and Depth

Mastery and Depth


The National Curriculum, which came into effect in September 2014, is underpinned by the concept of mastery and depth


The Department for Education (DfE) has added weight and focus to a child’s ability to apply their learning– this is called Mastery. Mastery is how a child can apply much of the curriculum as a whole using more complex and in‐depth, cross‐objective, multi‐modal methods. It demonstrates how skillfully a child can apply their learning. Mastery is not just knowing a fact, but it is using that fact in increasingly more complex situations.

A child with better Mastery will score higher in the DfE's new 2016 tests than a child with lower Mastery, even if they know the same content.


What are Mastery and Depth?

We suggest that mastery relates to skill and we can develop mastery of a skill through modeling, guided practice, continued independent practice, and finally application of the skill to solve a problem. 

Depth, on the other hand, is related to knowledge and understanding. We aim to teach for deep knowledge by integrating new learning into existing knowledge. We provide opportunities for depth of understanding by encouraging relational thinking and connections. The more learners see relationships and make connections, the greater their depth of understanding.  


At Farnborough Road Infant School, we believe a pupil who is working at mastery and with depth displays many of the following characteristics:


  • Independence: pupils can use the concept independently.
  • Fluency: pupils can apply the concept with fluency.
  • Application: pupils apply their learning in a range of contexts.
  • Connections: pupils can make connections within their learning and across their learning.
  • Explain: pupils can explain their thinking and the connections they make.
  • Resilience: pupils demonstrate resilience in their learning and application.


(based on Focus education Mastery and Depth in the National Curriculum).


All children at Farnborough Road Infant School are given these opportunities to deepen their learning and master concepts. They are encouraged to ‘have a go’ and the appropriate support is provided to enable them to do this. Tasks are carefully planned by teachers so that there is an appropriate level of difficulty, meaning our children are challenged at the correct point in their learning.

Not all children will master every concept or be able to deepen their learning all of the time but wherever possible they will be encouraged to deepen their thinking and understanding.