Press release

Mathematics teaching must improve in Knowsley

Teachers, school leaders and education managers must work more closely to improve maths teaching in Knowsley secondary schools, said Ofsted.

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The call came as Ofsted published a short report, which judged mathematics in the Knowsley area to require improvement.

Ofsted inspected teaching and leadership of mathematics in six secondary schools in the area because of concerns over the results students get in their GCSE examinations. During the school visits, inspectors saw 41 mathematics lessons, talked with students and looked at their work, examined key documents and talked with teachers and leaders. An inspector subsequently met with the Director of Schools and Educational Attainment for Knowsley and two of her colleagues.

The Ofsted report finds that:

  • senior leaders often had an over-optimistic view of teaching quality in their schools
  • early GCSE entry was not used appropriately, and not enough students got high grades and went on to study A-level mathematics
  • there were shortfalls in curriculum coverage and too little emphasis was given to the development of students’ problem-solving skills
  • Knowsley Council does not have a strong enough grip on the impact of its support for mathematics

Michael Cladingbowl, Ofsted Director, Schools, and regional director for the North West, said:

Good or outstanding mathematics teaching empowers young people by giving them an essential life skill. Employers want to give jobs to young people who are good at mathematics.

We inspected teaching and leadership of mathematics in Knowsley because it is one of the weakest areas in England for students’ progress in the subject, which affects the grades they get at GCSE. While we found that every school had some good teaching, too much required improvement and leaders were not doing enough to make it better quickly.

‘There is no reason why mathematics in Knowsley can’t improve and reach higher standards.

To help tackle this problem Ofsted says that senior leaders should be trained more in what constitutes good or better teaching in mathematics, and in supporting teachers in developing their subject expertise. Subject leaders’ meetings should be re-established and mathematics teachers should be trained in good practice in assessing students’ skills and understanding.

Ofsted will continue to monitor mathematics results in Knowsley.

Notes to editors

  1. The Ofsted report on secondary mathematics in Knowsley is online.

  2. Ofsted undertook a full inspection of mathematics at four schools: All Saints, Knowsley Park, Halewood and St Edmund. Mathematics was an additional focus of special monitoring visits at Kirkby Sports and Huyton Arts Sports Colleges.

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Published 4 February 2014