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Personalised practice – a perspective from a London teacher

Posted on 25th February 2020 by Annabel Stanley

Jonathan East is Assistant Head and Maths Lead at a London Primary School. He tells us why he believes personalised practice is so important.


Personalised provision is in essence what teaching is all about – meeting the needs of each child in your class.

On face value it may seem to contradict ‘Teaching for Mastery’, where whole-class approaches are used to allow all children to have the same opportunities to succeed while accessing the same maths, but in truth both can and should go hand in hand.

In order for children to access whole-class approaches to learning new mathematical concepts, previous understanding must be built upon. This includes previous topics that have been studied and previous facts that have been memorised.

If facts are readily available to retrieve from the long term memory, children can progress through their learning, experiencing less cognitive overload. If the facts are not readily available, the opposite is true. Children are often forced to resort to inefficient methods to complete calculations within longer problems.

During this process, mistakes can occur and children’s thinking, within the bigger picture of the problem, can be lost.

Practise is an important element of mastery that is often forgotten.

Providing children with personalised opportunities to practise factual recall with immediate feedback of their success is vital. Practise should not be seen as a negative, but as an essential element to mastering a concept.

These opportunities should be given in addition to developing the children’s conceptual understanding of the concept with the use of variation during whole-class teaching.

Using personalised practice in this way can develop well-rounded mathematicians with fewer gaps in their knowledge, giving them the opportunity and skill set to successfully tackle future challenges.


Sumdog supports personalized practice by making it simple for teachers to set, and engaging for students to complete.