Reassurance from Ofsted

Delegates were given an assurance by Ofsted’s National Lead for Mathematics that following mastery approaches is wholly consistent with the new curriculum, is recognised as an acceptable approach to teaching and should not lead to negative comments by inspectors.

Jane Jones, HMI, explained that both the new curriculum and the Ofsted handbook stressed that the objective of teaching was to create deeper understanding rather than to accelerate pupils into new content.

She acknowledged that the whole class teaching model - a key feature of teaching for mastery - could at first look slower than usual. But she assured her audience that inspectors would not judge teaching and progress based on the speed of getting through content, but on the depth of pupils’ learning – the impact of the teaching.

That said, she conceded that headteachers in schools following or developing a mastery approach might feel nervous when they know an inspection is imminent.

In these situations, she suggested heads could prepare a single sheet of paper to give to the inspector (and/or talk to the inspector) outlining the following:

  • What their school is doing as it delivers/moves towards a mastery approach
  • What an inspector might typically see in maths lessons
  • How the school intervenes swiftly to help those having difficulty to make sure they keep up, and to extend and deepen the learning of the ‘rapid-graspers’
  • How the school is developing its systems for recording attainment and progress in the subject – focusing on the most important things ready for the next stage/year/term.