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Mastery and Greater Depth

What is Mastery and Depth?

There is no one definition (or thinking) of mastery and greater depth.


It has been said that "mastery learning is deep learning that sticks, can be recalled over time etc. It is necessary to have deep learning in order to meet the key objectives. In essence, in order to meet the objectives securely children need to have mastered them" (Clive Davies) 

Mastery is about obtaining greater levels of learning and for children to be able to apply that learning in a variety of contexts. Working at greater depth is when children can transfer that learning , apply it in different contexts and can explain their understanding to others. 


Greater depth learners are expert at forming patternsrelationships and connections between knowledge, skills and their application. This calls for skilful questioning but also repeated modelling and scaffolding which helps learners develop their understanding about the ‘why’ of learning. 

Expert chess players remember more pieces ‘in play’ because they link pieces with strategy and movement.  They are big picture thinkers. Here, at Rimrose Hope, we want our children to be big picture thinkers!



The Characteristics of mastery and greater depth in the national curriculum could be summarised as:

The Characteristics of mastery and greater depth in the national curriculum could be summarised as: 1

So What? - How do we promote Mastery and Depth at Rimrose Hope?


At Rimrose Hope we are employing a range of pedagogical choices to support our children in becoming ‘big picture thinkers’. Outlined below is an overview of these strategies, followed by examples of planning and the children’s work throughout phases.


The Storyline Approach

The Storyline Approach follows a narrative were the children typically create a character and a simple biography that will bring the story to life. The ‘line’ is designed in a series of key questions. Storyline creates a partnership between the teacher and the learners in which the teacher designs the ‘line’ – the chapters of the story, and the learners create and develops the story. The line or plan aims at curricular content (knowledge) and skills practice while the story provides the context within which the pupils feel motivation through ownership


Using this approach, the children are immersed in their learning and are given an opportunity to explore a topic e.g. WW1 (see examples from our current Year 1/2) and Slavery (see examples from our current Year 5/6) in a different way, making emotional connections and encouraging deeper thinking. It is also a design idea that encourages and models democracy and good citizenship which link to our Christian and British Values.



Lane Clark

Lane Clark’s approach to learning is founded on teaching pupils how to learn, how to think and how to use new technologies to enhance their learning. She has developed a repertoire of tools that promote and enhance the learner’s thinking during the learning journey. Lane Clark believes that all learners should know how to learn and how to think. She has developed multiple frameworks to support thinking, learning, evaluation and assessment.

We are employing a number of these strategies; in particular tools to enhance analytical thinking, by using for example, Venn diagram’s, cross classification charts and T. Charts.

The children are taught to use various tools that promote and enhances their thinking during their learning journey. Tools are embedded in our teaching processes, the processes used are immersion/learning centres, question/wonderings, investigate/inquiry, stop & think: assessment, ideate: make/do. 

The icons below are used in our planning for clarity and clear identification:



In addition to this, corresponding icons appear on the children’s learning objective with the notion that the children will have an understanding of which aspect of their learning journey they are about to embark on.



The Project Approach

Our children engage in regular Art/DT projects, linked to various topics such as mindfulness. Children have used various ‘Lane Clark’ inspired tools such as carousel activities and SWSW charts to explore existing products and then use that information to inform their own plans/designs which they then make/do.


The children are able to master skills during these projects and we are extremely proud of the children’s efforts that are celebrated during our ‘showcase events’.


The Project Approach however is slightly different and is something that as a school we are aiming to employ in the future.


In the Project Approach the term ‘project’ is used to refer to an “extended in-depth investigation or study of a particular topic – uncovering as well as covering the subject of the study” Projects are usually undertaken as a whole class, with children working within smaller groups on particular subtopics. The key element to the Project Approach is that it is based on an investigation that is of interest and potential value to the learners. Investigations include a wide variety of research process as the children seek to uncover answers to the questions that they have asked individually as well as collectively and some with the guidance of the teacher. The children decide and discuss the type the data they will need to obtain the answers to their questions, and to check their predictions.


The Project Approach is participatory and calls for high levels of motivation as well as a repertoire of thinking skills and methods to research, hypothesis and discover independent of an adult. The ownership of their learning falls heavily on them.


Through the pedagogical choices we are currently making, our hope is that our children will develop and master a range of skills, methods and strategies that will allow them to embark on Projects that excite them and that are valuable to them as present and future learners.


This is how Rimrose Hope pupils will become Big Picture Thinkers!

Indentifying Mastery and Depth at Rimrose Hope


A tool for Mastery and Depth – Using Bloom’s Taxonomy


Using Bloom’s Taxonomy

  • Bloom indentified levels of higher order thinking.


  • Remembering – Recall facts and basic concepts
  • Understand – Explain ideas or concepts
  • Apply – use information in new situations
  • Analyze – Draw connections among ideas
  • Evaluate – justify a stand or decision
  • Create – Produce new or original work


If children are applying confidently and independently, they have mastered that skill/concept.

Once they have mastered that skill/concept this is identified using our silver ‘M’ stickers.


We use Bloom’s higher levels of thinking i.e. analyze, evaluate and create to identify deep thinking and deep learning.


If children are able to innovate, argue, compare etc. confidently and independently, then we are able to justify a judgment of ‘depth’. Again, this is identified in books, using our gold ‘D’ stickers.


Our understanding of depth means that, while we agree all pupils are capable of deep thinking/deep learning in different aspects of the curriculum and at different points in their learning journey, not all the children who are showing deep thinking/deep learning will be a ‘Greater Depth’ child.







FrogPlay - A tool to enhance Mastery and Depth


FrogPlay is an oline programme which allows our pupils to learn through quizzes, games and reports - making learning more engaging and effective!

The children are set weekly homework challenges on FrogPlay. Completing the tasks is a fantastic way for pupils to engage in new information and can help chidren to master new content and knowledge. We are proud to offer our children this wonderful resorce and it is one of the tools we use to support mastery at Rimrose Hope.

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