A good response from Ofsted on the new inspection framework.

I raised a concern about the new inspection framework with Ofsted and they have now sent me an appropriate response.

My enquiry (send May 23rd 2019) was as follows:

Dear Ofsted,
Through my business (Authentic Maths), I provide exceptionally high quality CPD for primary teachers which supports their teaching of mathematics.

The CPD I provide nurtures teachers’ high-level professional skills. I encourage them to teach low-threshold high-ceiling lessons which pivot around the fundamental representations of mathematics.  This is a different approach to East Asian Mastery because it does not require teachers to carefully sequence knowledge lesson by lesson.  This is particularly helpful in schools which face the most challenges, including those working with children with very substantial gaps in their education, established psychological barriers to learning and mixed year classes.  

This approach is thoroughly grounded in research and has been forensically developed with schools with exceptional practice.  It is profoundly age-appropriate for younger children.  You can read the history of how this training has been developed here: https://authenticmaths.co.uk/the-authentic-maths-story/
Children who are taught using this method make more rapid and efficient progress, and acquire deeper learning, than those using the East Asian step-wise mastery approach.  As well as enabling teachers to cope with the issues listed in the second paragraph of this email, the efficiently of low-threshold high-ceiling teaching also provides them with plenty of classroom time to focus on ensuring that all children have achieve all the demands of their curriculum towards the end of their time in a class, as well as plenty of time for extended problem solving activities (in addition to the regular use of problem solving activities during lessons).

Given that the definition of outstanding teaching (which fitted teachers using this practice very well) has been removed and replaced with section 294 of the new inspection handbook, I am contacting you to ask you to provide me with written assurance, which I can publish and show to schools, that the exceptional teaching in schools I work with will be recognised and not penalised by inspectors?

The particular points from section 294 which I am concerned about are:
– the school’s curriculum planning for mathematics carefully sequences knowledge, concepts and procedures to build mathematical knowledge and skills systematically
– the curriculum divides new material into manageable steps lesson by lesson.

I am worried that these points are specifically describing the East Asian Mastery approach being promoted by the NCETM and do not understand more effective methods.  I am concerned that inspectors will not be trained to understand low-threshold high-ceiling teaching in mathematics. I am also worried that headteachers may be dissuaded from using more effective methods because they may share these concerns. I have experienced the extinction of this type of teaching from secondary schools in Cumbria because headteachers have been afraid that Ofsted would not understand it.

I would be delighted to provide you with any further information and evidence you may require to assess and respond to this request.

Yours sincerely,

Rebecca Hanson

Their response (sent 16th June 2019) was as follows:

Dear Rebecca 

Thank you for your enquiry. Inspectors carrying out their work under the new Education Inspection Framework will look at the extent to which pupils understand and remember the mathematical knowledge, concepts and procedures appropriate for their starting points, including knowledge of efficient algorithms. Teaching should ensure that pupils are ready for the next stage, whether that is the next lesson, unit of work, year or key stage, including post-16 mathematics.

The handbook, including section 294 on mathematics draws carefully upon research. Inspectors will judge schools taking radically different approaches to the curriculum fairly, as Ofsted recognise the importance of schools’ autonomy to choose their own curriculum approaches.

If leaders are able to show that they have thought carefully, that they have built a curriculum with appropriate coverage, content, structure and sequencing, and that it has been implemented effectively, then inspectors will assess a school’s curriculum favourably.

Please note that the evaluation schedule in the new school inspection handbook is not exhaustive and does not replace the professional judgement of inspectors.


Jonathan Tryhuba
Ofsted – Applications, Regulatory and Contact team
Telephone: 0300 123 4666

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *