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A Summary of the Ofsted Maths Subject Report: Coordinating Mathematical Success

Ofsted have released the second and third subject reports into maths and history respectively. These reports have been written based on the findings from inspecting 50 schools using the research reviews to evaluate the curriculum and provision.


This report into maths contains implications for both primary and secondary sectors. I’ve found the report to be useful reading, especially for considering how to improve the curriculum offer for disadvantaged and SEND pupils.


The initial research review received significant criticisms from many people in mathematics education. However, this report seems to have at its heart the desire to improve outcomes for all. Whilst I realise there will be arguments against some of what is in the report, my goal has been to summarise the content and not put my own opinion or addendums to it. If I have misrepresented any of the findings, please let me know.


As always, my summary cannot replace reading the full report, but I hope it is a useful resource as a prompt or aide-memoire. The original report can be accessed here.


If you would like to support the work I do at the same time as downloading a high-quality PDF version of the visual summary, please visit my Gumroad page by clicking here. (I’ve included an additional PDF of the written notes and editable Microsoft Word version as a thank you for your support 🙏).


You may want to refresh your memory of the research review before reading. I’ve written a summary which is available here.



🌰 The Report in a Nutshell

- The quality of mathematics education has significantly improved over the last decade. The overall picture in England is a healthy one.

- English pupils perform better than pupils in many other countries but there is still a significant gap between the lowest and highest achievers as well as between disadvantaged and advantaged pupils.

- There is a shortage of specialist mathematics teachers which is affecting recruitment. This challenge is shared by other countries too.

- There are many different ways that schools can design and implement a high-quality maths curriculum.

- When the components of effective curricula align with each other, mathematical success is co-ordinated.


🔑 Key Findings – Primary

- Curriculum is now central to leaders’ decisions and actions.

- Three-way differentiation seems to be a thing of the past.

- There is a focus on ‘keep up, not catch up’.

- There are better networks of supports for primary schools. These include Maths Hubs.

- Teachers often use a range of concrete and pictorial representations, teach vocabulary explicitly, regularly check for understanding and are adept at picking up on misconceptions.

- Variation in the quality and quantity of independent practice opportunities is one of the main weaknesses. A lack of practice inhibits pupils remembering important knowledge, which affects older pupils’ procedural fluency.

- Gaps in pupils’ knowledge are centred around the addition facts which are taught in younger year groups. The effects of these gaps might only manifest themselves when children are older and are struggling to access the curriculum.

- Although leaders focus resources on Y6 due to accountability measures, this can mean younger children don’t receive the full support they need.

- Achieving ‘age-related expectations’ is inferior to a goal of ‘true proficiency’; pupils who marginally achieve ARE are still underprepared for the rigour of KS3 and beyond.


🔑 Key Findings – Secondary

- The sector has made significant improvements since the previous Maths report in 2012.

- One prevailing weakness is the teaching of disparate skills which enable pupils to pass exams: they do not prepare pupils well for their next step of education, work and life.

- Another weakness lies in the teaching of problem solving.

- It is a challenge to recruit and retain high-quality, specialist maths teachers. Leaders have had to adapt to this problem, including training non-specialist and less-experienced teachers.

- Strong exam results do not necessarily indicate a high-quality education. This is because, in some schools, a narrowed curriculum is taught, aimed at success in exams rather than overall proficiency and sufficient preparation for future study.

- Curriculum decisions about teaching facts and methods is usually strong; weaker practice tends to take less account of the curriculum journey – what has been taught before and what will be taught afterwards.

- Weaker practice also includes teaching disconnected facts and ‘tricks’.

- It is uncommon for schools to consider how pupils are taught to problem solve; this is usually left to individual class teachers. This can result in ineffective teaching when pupils are taught by non-specialist teachers or when pupils inherently find learning maths more challenging.

- Where teachers model and explicitly teach how to communicate with clarity and technical accuracy, pupils generally develop this too.

- In some schools, exercises and activities which are not carefully designed means that some pupils are moved on without having sufficient practice to consolidate their learning.

- Pupils who learn more slowly than their peers typically do not have their needs met by their maths education: course completion is prioritised at the expense of learning things securely. This can result in content being repeated, but still not being learned.


🙌🏻 Elements of High Quality Provision

- The curriculum is sequenced so that pupils build on what they have learned before and are prepared to learn content which they will be taught in the future.

- A centralised approach to curriculum planning can support schools with high teacher turnover, as well as develop teachers’ understanding about progression.

- Teachers are supported by networks and bodies such as the NCETM.

- It is important to develop a shared understanding of curriculum progression and features of effective practice with less experienced and non-specialist teachers.

- Schools with the strongest provision ensure that all adults who work with children, including TAs, understand the maths curriculum and its implementation.


🤔 Examples of Less Effective Practice

- Not being specific about what content is to be learned and when during the Reception year.

- Failing to provide sufficient teaching of geometry across the year.

- Lacking enough learning of conditional knowledge (knowing when to use strategies and procedures).

- Questioning which causes guessing rather than recall.

- Using too many representations at once which can cause confusion.

- The focus of assessment being on test preparation rather than identifying pupils’ needs and next steps.

- Significant last-minute intervention in some schools; this suggests deficiencies in the design of the curriculum.

- Making the decisions about which tiers to enter pupils in at GCSE when they are in Year 9 can limit some pupils’ potential unnecessarily.

- Leaving choice of methods to individual teachers rather than this being a broader curriculum decision.

- Limiting the quality and quantity of pupil practice. Pupils should practise until they have learned the content to automaticity.

- Moving pupils on before they have mastered the content.

- Using the thresholds of external assessments to determine curriculum quality: these do not necessarily demonstrate mastery of the whole curriculum. This is especially so as the thresholds are usually around 50%.

- Giving pupils the choice over which problems to solve can lead to inequalities in the classroom.

- A lack of curriculum planning for problem solving – especially in secondary schools.


📝 Recommendations for Curriculum


- A school’s curriculum should emphasise secure learning, rather than coverage.

- The sequencing of the curriculum should prepare pupils for the transition between key stages and phases.

- Primary: Identify and sequence the small steps in Reception.

- Primary: Teach pupils how to apply facts and methods to wider problem-solving.

- Primary: Sequence geometry knowledge throughout the year, rather than at the end of the year.

- Secondary: Specify the mathematical methods that leaders want pupils to learn.

- Secondary: Focus KS4 curricula on maximising pupils’ learning. Enter pupils for the tier based on what they can do towards the end of KS4 rather than at the end of KS3.

- Secondary: Deliberately plan how pupils will learn conditional knowledge by identifying the types of problems pupils should be able to solve, how to use facts and methods, provide sufficient practice in solving problems, and ensure all pupils have enough practice.


👨🏾‍🏫 Recommendations for Pedagogy and Assessment

- Make sure teachers routinely check that pupils are secure with prerequisite content.

- Make sure teachers connect new learning to prior understanding.

- Ensure pupils have sufficient practice and consolidation through well-designed activities and exercises.

- Check that all pupils are developing procedural fluency.

- Primary: Reduce distractions and support pupils to focus.

- Primary: Support younger children to learn addition facts off by heart.

- Primary: Reflect on whether additional arithmetic practice is a symptom of deficiencies earlier in the curriculum.

- Primary: Aim for proficiency and Year 7 readiness rather than just meeting age-related expectations in SATs.

- Primary: Ensure questioning is focused on recall rather than guesswork.

- Primary: Provide pre-teaching, additional teaching and extra practice for most pupils with SEND.

- Secondary: Ensure that pupils have sufficient opportunities to practise reasoning, explaining and problem solving, using the facts and methods they have been taught.

- Secondary: Use assessment information to evaluate the curriculum and its implementation.


🏫 Recommendations for Systems at Subject and School Level


- Provide CPD for TAs and other adults working with pupils.

- Primary: Ensure that discussions about pupil progress address the needs of the lowest attaining younger pupils.

- Primary: Prioritise resourcing for younger year groups so that there is success from the start.

- Primary: Focus on pupils’ thinking and the quality and quantity of practice, during lesson observations.

- Secondary: Ensure non-specialist teachers receive the CPD they require. This includes subject and pedagogical content knowledge.



💻 Recommendations for Other Organisations


- Provide sufficient quality and quantity of practice within resources.

- Develop computerised tests of facts and methods which can be used to share information about progress and attainment. Set benchmarks for attainment based on proficiency.

- Explore whether the design of the current GCSE contributes to practices that are not in the best interests of pupils.


PRIMARY


Curriculum Intent


- Most primary schools’ curricula are carefully sequenced.

- Leaving geometry to the last term means that some pupils are more insecure with the concepts than they would be if they more regularly revisted across the year.

- Commercial schemes can reduce workload for teachers and provide planned sequences of recapping and revisiting previously learned content.

- The NCETM’s ‘ready-to-progress’ criteria have been useful for many schools and have helped many teachers prioritise key content.

- The most effective Reception planning was as detailed as that of older pupils. It is particularly effective for staff to work together to make sure that the Reception curriculum prepares children for Year 1.


Declarative Knowledge


- Pupils rarely rely on times tables grids in lessons due to the emphasis schools have placed on learning fact families off by heart. The Y4 multiplication check has raised the profile of times tables.

- KS1 pupils are often expected to develop a flexible and deep understanding of number, but memorisation of number bonds receives less emphasis. This can cause issues for children when they are older and need to tackle more complex mathematics.

- The NCETM’s Mastering Number programme has been helpful in supporting Reception and Y1 pupils to memorise number bonds.

- Vocabulary, sentence stems and speaking frames have been taught or deployed effectively to support pupils’ language which in turn supports their reasoning.

- An inability by younger pupils to subitise and easily recall facts hampers their progress: they struggle to achieve the speed and accuracy of their more secure peers. A lack of automaticity with these facts means they are less likely to remember new knowledge.

- Pupils should not be rushed through the curriculum; teachers should be encouraged to slow the pace of learning, when necessary, so that pupils master knowledge before moving on.


Procedural Knowledge


- Most primary schools sequence procedural knowledge in a logical way. Understanding can sometimes be prioritised over automaticity and fluency. Efficient methods help pupils engage with larger numbers without creating additional complication (e.g. using the grid method helps understanding but long multiplication is more efficient).

- When pupils are encouraged to choose methods, this can sometimes lead to them not having enough practice of the methods they will need to use more often in the future, hence making their next steps more difficult to learn.

- How to present working out is a key part of the mathematics curriculum.

- Using the bar model as a common representation supports pupils in understanding proportion as well as how to solve word problems and algebraic equations.

- Procedural fluency should be a priority: a lack of it is a likely cause of needing interventions in Year 6.


Conditional Knowledge

- Many schools specify the models, explanations and sentence stems to teach pupils for wider problem-solving. It is a positive approach to dedicate a section of a lesson to do this.

- Some schools provide reasoning and problem solving only as a choice for pupils. This means that some pupils either miss necessary procedural practice because they move on too quickly, or some pupils miss practice in problem solving because they choose not to do them.

- A lack of fluency in procedures and lack of language and comprehension are being identified as barriers to reasoning and problem solving.

- There are a range of factors which can contribute towards pupils being able to choose the best method to solve a problem. It may be related to a lack of automaticity in using declarative knowledge, or a lack of awareness of problems and strategies. Schools can address pupils’ difficulties by ensuring they teach how to apply methods to problems, based on the underlying mathematical structures.


Meeting the Needs of Pupils


- The ‘keep up, not catch up’ approach makes sure that pupils really understand and remember what is being taught before they move on.

- This approach works well for children with SEND, meaning they can access the same curriculum with support and adaptations.

- It’s important to be mindful of how TA support can bridge, rather than close, gaps in knowledge.

- Pre-teaching and same-day interventions are effective ways of ‘keeping up’.

- For children working well below age-related expectations, precision teaching focused on specific gaps might be more appropriate. It is important to reflect on whether practice is inclusivity in reality or only in appearance. Some children with SEND cannot access the content of the class, despite the quality of teaching. Such children might have their needs met more effectively if they learn different content and practise with different tasks.

- The quality and quantity of practice and of handwriting proficiency are likely contributors of holding children back – both for children with and without SEND.


Pedagogy - Teaching


- There has been a shift from individual teacher to school leadership in designing and sequencing the curriculum – especially in the small steps model.

- Teaching has been supported by the resources provided with commercial schemes as they are clear and consistent, helping pupils to understand underlying mathematical structures.

- In Reception, songs, stories and rhymes are effective ways of teaching concepts. Shorter sessions match the shorter attention spans of children in this age group.

- Teachers use careful explanations and demonstrations. They are supported by documentation which helps them understand the pupils’ learning journey and where the content of the lesson fits.

- Activities in pupils’ books show progression from small component tasks to more complex procedures and processes.

- Explicit teaching of vocabulary helps pupils understand and remember more, especially when it is introduced at the start of the lesson so that pupils have ample opportunity to practise.

- The CPA approach is often used. Occasionally, some teachers use too many representations which can cause confusion rather than support understanding.

- Questioning is most effective when it prompts ways of thinking and recall. It is less effective when it promotes guessing. This disengages less confident pupils.

- A lack of sufficient practice for pupils with challenging behaviour can cause less progress and lead towards a vicious cycle of poor behaviour due to not understanding the content. This can lead to falling behind and being labelled as having SEND.


Pedagogy – Pupil Practice


- Practice can be considered as two types.

o Type 1 – involves retrieving and rehearsing facts, methods and strategies so that they are familiar, speedy and accurate.

o Type 2 – requires pupils to explain relationships, prove they understand them and describe their reasoning.

- Both types of practice are important.

- Pupils need sufficient quantity and quality of practice to support understanding and commitment of content to long term memory.

- Practice can include songs, games and rhymes.

- Practice should be accompanied by checks to ensure that all pupils are learning the intended knowledge to automaticity – before moving on.

- There has been a shift away from assuming correct answers shows that work is too easy.

- Accompanying worksheets are often well-designed and include worked examples.

- Teachers consistently build in opportunities to rehearse knowledge, such as by using ‘Fluent in 5’. Additional, discrete sessions are helpful but may indicate deficiencies in the design and implementation of the curriculum.

- Sometimes, Type 1 practice is skipped and children are moved on to Type 2.

- There is little consensus among leaders as the amount of quality and quantity of practice that gives the confidence that pupils have learned the intended curriculum. Leaders and teachers often need a better understanding of what constitutes an adequate amount of practice.

- In Reception, the planned mathematical activities are purposeful and carefully designed. However, schools need to have a system for monitoring children’s access to maths resources in the wider provision. This will otherwise lead to some children getting more practice than others.

- There was an association between older pupils’ confidence and the quality of their book work. Quality and quantity of practice is likely to be linked to how well these pupils focus on their learning and the effort that they make.

- Songs are particularly useful to helping children remember important knowledge.

- ‘My turn, your turn’ and ‘choral response’ are positively used for low-stakes practice. It is an inclusive approach which reduces anxiety. Although it is repetitive, teachers report it is necessary for pupils to secure the language and concepts.

- Homework is usually designed to have least impact on parents. Schools should be careful not to set work which is too challenging for pupils to access.

- Although the typical three-way differentiation is dissipating, there is still variation in pupils’ diets which can cause gaps. This is often related to when pupils choose activities or move on very quickly and ‘get ahead’ of others. It does allow pupils to be challenged in the moment, but does not necessarily provide the practice they need. A minimum expectation of what should be completed is useful way to address this.

- It is also helpful for leaders to be aware that al pupils doing the same thing can be ‘OK’ as every pupil needs to be familiar with the basics.


Assessment


- Live marking means that teachers can notice pupils’ successes, misconceptions and errors. It allows for responsive teaching as well as helping identifying children who need same-day short interventions.

- Although most leaders choose to check pupils’ knowledge as they enter Reception, there is little evidence that any gaps that are identified are systematically addressed. It’s possible that at this stage gaps might slip through the net.

- Most schools use regular end-of-unit tests which are aligned to the school’s curriculum. Pupils are tested on what they have learned and practised, highlighting to leader which forms of knowledge need to be revisited.

- Increasing the level of diagnostics from tests is a positive approach.

- Setting the expectation for proficiency at 80% is more appropriate than the benchmark of 50% for end of KS2 tests.

- Technology can be used effectively for testing: it motivates pupils to retake tests to do better, provides low-stakes practice, and precise information about pupils’ component knowledge and readiness to move on to the next topic.

- Using technology for assessment can almost eliminate teacher workload while giving them instant and accurate feedback.

- Pupils like frequent, low-stakes and timed testing as they could achieve personal bests: they can also reduce fear of SATs. Such testing means that children do not feel under pressure to perform or compare themselves with others. It also contributes to a positive culture which welcomes mistakes.

- There is limited use in using summative tests. Whilst most schools use them in Year 6 to check on progress, the question-level analysis is not accurate in pinpointing gaps in component knowledge. The thresholds for success do not reflect proficiency and mean that some pupils are not fully prepared for success at KS3.


Systems at School Level


- A well-established culture of collaboration has strengthened and extended networks of support. There is now collaboration between different schools and phases on curriculum, moderation, CPD and sharing good practice.

- Organisations such as Maths Hubs and MATs help to share information between schools. This is described as ‘cross-pollination’.

- Teachers appreciate opportunities to observe each other – it supports them to develop their teaching and challenge themselves.

- The work of Maths Hubs and the NCETM has supported CPD across the sector.

- The majority of schools provide both curriculum guidance and CPD to enhance subject knowledge and pedagogy.

- In terms of monitoring, senior leaders make sure that subject leads have the time to look at books, visit lessons and speak with pupils.

- Lesson observations, which are typically low-stakes, are informed by leaders’ knowledge of high-quality maths rather than generic features. There is, however, more weighting given to what teachers are doing, rather than on pupils’ understanding, focus and practice.

- A stronger focus on pupils might provide more information to leaders about pupils’ understanding, and the variation n type and amount of pupil practice.

- Where this is a higher-than-average proportion of pupils with SEND, leaders might allocate more experienced and knowledgeable staff to the pupils and cohorts with the greatest needs.

- In some schools, pupils with significant SEND receive their instruction in a separate group.

- Setting is common in Year 6, and to a lesser extent in Year 2, although it is rare in other year groups. This indicates that not all pupils are making good progress, despite a strong curriculum.

- Rather than allocating more resources to Y6, leaders should consider making more significant interventions with younger pupils to close the gaps from the start.

- Many schools share information with parents about age-related expectations, SATs, maths teaching and how to support at home.

- Governors and trust leaders typically use summative data to hold leaders to account. However, this data does not necessarily provide sufficient assurance on younger pupils’ proficiency. Governors and trust leaders could use simple checks to check for any gaps in foundational learning and then discuss these with leaders.


SECONDARY


Curriculum Intent


- There is variation in how schools structure their curriculum. Some see the journey from Year 7 to 11 as a five-year programme, where content in KS4 builds on KS3.

- Others have distinct curricula; this can lead to pupils repeating content in KS4 due to being entered for the Foundation tier paper.

- A two-year KS3 often leads to pupils being rushed through the content, meaning some pupils’ learning is insecure and meaning that content needs to be retaught in KS4.

- A very small number of schools, learning in KS3 is organised into themes; content is not clearly defined. This leads to KS4 being mainly spent on identifying and closing gaps.

- In most schools, decisions about which GCSE tiers to enter pupils for were taken at the end of Year 9. These decisions determined the curriculum pupils receive. This limited the maths some pupils learned.

- For border-line pupils, those entered into the Foundation tier generally make slower progress than they are capable of. Those entered into the Higher tier are generally rushed through the content and focus on getting method marks. Both approaches limit pupils’ security in the content.

- For pupils who finish the curriculum in Year 10, Year 11 is mainly reduced to gap-filling and re-teaching, with a focus on the questioning formats likely to be used in exams.

- A minority of leaders design their KS4 curriculum to maximise the amount of learning pupils will be secure on, making a distinction between curriculum design and exam specifications. They make decisions about which tiers to enter pupils in as late as possible. This approach better prepares pupils for future study and work.

- Nearly all schools have curricula which develop knowledge sequentially.

- Y7 and lower set classes are disproportionately likely to be taught by more than one teacher.

- When pupils are taught by more than one teacher, it is more successful when pupils’ current knowledge is taken into account, and pupils aren’t taught content which relies on something they are yet to be taught.

- A minority of schools consider the maths learning of other subjects, such as science.


Declarative Knowledge and Procedural Knowledge


- Leaders in the majority of schools have considered the important vocabulary pupils are expected to learn at each stage. This explicit expectation means teachers develop and check pupils’ accurate use of vocabulary.

- Teacher modelling of correct use of vocabulary supports acquisition by pupils.

- The importance of presenting work carefully is consistently emphasised: it posits maths as a communication subject.

- Most schools have identified the core methods and approaches they want pupils to learn at various stages in the curriculum. Most focused on those which could be built on in the future and deepened prior learning.

- Careful sequencing allows pupils to learn more knowledge.

- Where methods and approaches are left to individual teachers, there is more chance that pupils will come to perceive maths as a collection of unconnected facts and algorithms.

- Rather than teaching so that one method ‘sticks’, it is important to consider the links between methods and the order in which they are taught.



Conditional Knowledge

- Although schools include reasoning and problem solving for all pupils, in most schools teachers are given little guidance of the types of problems pupils need to be taught.

- There is often no common understanding of how to teach problem solving effectively.

- Leaving decisions about teaching problem solving to individual teachers can lead to a lack of fairness: it can create a disparity between the level of input about problem solving and the extent of individual practice.

- A lack of explicit teaching is mainly, and disproportionately, an issue in classes taught by less experienced or non-specialist staff.

- Pupils are less confident with problem solving in schools where they are not explicitly taught how to apply their knowledge to problems.

- Problem solving has only been explicitly planned into the curriculum in a minority of schools.

- It is effective for teachers to draw out similarities between problems to help pupils identify the techniques that might be useful for different types of problems.


Meeting the Needs of Pupils


- TAs are used to support classes where some children have SEND. This takes the form of direct support or through supporting whole-class instruction so that the teacher can provide additional support to the pupils with SEND.

- The most successful TAs had a secure knowledge of the maths curriculum and the range of pedagogical approaches being used by the teacher.

- Setting pupils based on current attainment occurs in the majority of schools. Most schools allowed pupils to move sets at points throughout the year.



Pedagogy - Teaching


- The challenges of recruitment have led to teachers in schools facing this challenge to use plans and resources developed by others.

- Although it is common for teachers to be expected to adapt resources to meet the specific needs of pupils, it is rare to see the resources being adapted. This can lead to pupils learning new content before they are secure with pre-requisite knowledge.

- In schools with historically stronger provision, teachers are often given more flexibility to write or source the resources they use with their classes. This is a successful approach in this context.

- It is more common to see misconceptions being introduced in the classrooms of less experienced and non-specialist teachers. They also face the challenge of not being able to respond as effectively to pupils’ questions.


Pedagogy – Consolidation of Learning


- Most schools provide pupils with the opportunity to practise new content within the lesson and this practice becomes more complex over time.

- Most schools used spaced repetition effectively for pupils to gain further practice of previously learned content, either in homework or through low-stakes quizzing.

- Despite practice being a key feature of teaching and learning, there is little agreement on what adequate practice looks like. Often, the amount of practice is determined by how there is left in a lesson after the teacher input. It is not based on judgements of whether content is learned to automaticity.

- The majority of schools did not provide enough opportunities for pupils to practise problems which require them to explain, prove, justify or describe relationships.


Assessment


- Although leaders claim that teachers routinely check for security of conceptual knowledge before starting new learning which builds on it, this is often not the case (in the schools visited).

- A range of approaches can be used effectively to ascertain pupils’ security with knowledge – they depend on how well-considered the questions are.

- There Is a weakness in how effectively teachers strike a balance between assumption and assessment when checking pre-existing knowledge. Teachers need to be careful not assume, but rather check that, pupils have learned everything they have been taught previously.

- In some schools, the focus is on covering the curriculum rather than securing learning. Often, teachers feel pressure to complete the scheme by the end of the academic year.

- A focus on securing learning means that children are not moved on until they are ready.

- Most schools provide frequent opportunities for pupils to recall and apply previously learned content.

- Teachers more effectively deal with an identified lack of knowledge or misconception when they consider what the best course of action is; trying to address problems within the lesson without adequate resourcing can be time-consuming and less successful than revisiting topics in future lessons.

- It is important that misconceptions are corrected before pupils repeat them without correction: this can lead to misconceptions becoming embedded.

- Using carefully designed tests to find out whether pupils have successfully learned the taught curriculum is more effective than pupils taking tests which includes content they have yet to learn. This is an inefficient use of pupils’ time.

- Although summative tests do not lend themselves to formative assessment, they are most helpful when they help teachers to isolate specific gaps and plan new teaching and practice sequences to address those gaps.

- Modelling correct test answers is not always the best use of time as it does provide pupils with opportunities to practise the areas of maths they are struggling with.

- Test outcomes are mainly used to describe attainment. The thresholds for the expected performance are often set in line with GCSE exams. Accepting this threshold rather than identifying pupil gaps and addressing them means many pupils move forward with significant gaps in their mathematical knowledge.

- Some schools use summative assessments to reflect upon and evaluate the curriculum and its implementation.


Systems at School Level


- Most schools teach maths between 3.5 and 4 hours a week. A small number of schools teach 3 hours per week.

- There is variation between how maths is timetabled depending on lesson length and distribution across the week.

- All schools in the sample arrange teaching groups based on pupils’ current level of attainment.

- KS2 results or baseline assessments are often the basis for pupils being placed into classes when they start in Y7. Schools rarely use information from Y6 teachers when deciding classes; this can lead to pupils being placed in classes which do not meet their needs – especially when KS2 assessment data does not accurately reflect their level of mathematical knowledge.

- Most schools who do not set in Y7 have not done so due to the lack of KS2 data caused by the pandemic. They intend to return to setting once able to do so.

- A few schools teach extra maths to those pupils who are further behind.

- External tutors often have limited success with pupils because their teaching is often not aligned to the methods of the school.

- There has been a significant shift in using departmental time for administrative tasks to using it as an opportunity to consider effective teaching.

- Limiting the opportunities for members of the maths department to meet can lead to incoherence in implementing the mathematics curriculum.

- There are noticeable differences in the CPD offer of schools with historically stronger and weaker provision. Those with historically stronger provision focused on specific parts of the maths curriculum whereas those with historically weaker provision focused on more generic features of teaching, such as retrieval.


 





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