In order to develop a Mathematics Improvement Plan, I decided to:
- carry out focused lesson observations
- interview a sample of children with a focus on their views of mathematics, their progress and their mathematics lessons
- gather the views of teachers and parents/carers
- interrogate attainment and achievement data such as Raise online reports and SATs analysis as well as internal data such as APP periodic assessments
- carry out a work scrutiny which might focus on the activities in which children engage during lessons, progression through time or progression through ability groups
- ask Senior Leadership Team to carry out a mathematics review with an agreed focus.
In order to evaluate the current provision for mathematics, I decided to use the Primary National Strategy Subject Leader Self Evaluation grid. By annotating the grid, it informed the writing of the mathematics improvement plan.
A larger version of the annotated grid can be downloaded here
As a subject leader, the area of self-evaluation is vital. I take the following actions which are fundamental in helping to develop the improvement plan:
Data Analysis – I analyse data three times year; In the Autumn term to set targets, in the Spring to review progress and in the Summer to review whole year performance. In addition I analyse SATs results using SATs breakdown sheets provided by the County, but in the future it is ensuring review systems are in place for APP to help analyse areas of weakness as a whole school.
Data meetings are then held between year groups and the SMT to highlight specific pupils and areas of weakness in the cohort as well as looking at year on year progress. Comparison of data between subject areas and highlighting any anomalies is also raised at these meetings.
Pupil questionnaires – pupils undertake questionnaires linked into what they are confident with and what they need to know more about. For example: In Year 6 I ask my Able, Gifted and Talented (AGT) pupils to write the questionnaires and evaluate them for the rest of the school (with some guidance as to what I wish to find out). These are an important part of self-review as it helps the children identify next steps in their learning.
Work scrutiny – undertaken by Senior Leadership Team (SLT) / Head of Department. Areas of focus are: – adherence to marking policy, evidence of Asessment for Learning (AFL) and Asessing Pupil Progress (APP), dialogue between the teacher and students, identification of next steps in learning. Or specifically key areas on the development plan – one year this was accurate teaching of calculation.
Parental questionnaires – undertaken during open days to ascertain support parents feel their children receive but also help to establish the need for parent evenings on maths.
Teacher questionnaires – these are really useful as they help to identify what area teachers feel they need a little more support with. The use of the subject evaluation tool on the NCETM website is another highly effective method of undertaking this. In addition I have undertaken questionnaires with Teaching Assisants (TAs) to ascertain what areas they feel confident with and what they would like additional support with. In my school I discovered that my TAs wanted new ideas for teaching number bonds for 10 and effective CPD could be carried out on this.
Working with mathematics governor – keeping your governing body informed is fundamental part of self-review. I meet with the numeracy governor once a term and invite them to work scrutinies. I develop my action plan alongside their input to ensure they are fully informed.
Review based around ECM agenda –as subject leader, I also keep a review of how the work of the school is linking in to the ECM agenda.
(Excerpts from the Ofsted report Mathematics: understanding the score).
This report offers a range of external perspectives, examples of good practice and indications of national trends and standards which can be very helpful to a subject leader.
Here we have included elements which are relevant to this section on Self-evaluation.
Pupils’ Performance in Tests and Examinations
1. Teachers’ assessments show that standards in mathematical development in the Foundation Stage and in mathematics at Key Stage 1 have remained steady in recent years. Children in the Foundation Stage are best at counting and recognising shapes, they are not so good at calculating or describing position. At Key Stage 1, pupils extend their knowledge of shapes and numbers, counting, adding and subtracting, but are less confident about solving problems. Early multiplication and division also cause some difficulty.
2. In Key Stages 2, 3 and 4, results of national tests and examinations in mathematics have shown an upward trend for several years, although Key Stage 3 results dipped slightly in 2007, following a relatively large rise in 2006. As pupils move through primary and secondary school, they learn more about all areas of mathematics. For example, starting with whole numbers, they move on to decimals and fractions, positive and negative numbers, very large and very small numbers, and eventually on to rational and irrational numbers such as pi () and .
3. Table 1 shows the proportion of pupils reaching the expected attainment thresholds for each Key Stage in 2007 compared to 2001 and 2004. It also shows the proportion of pupils attaining or exceeding the higher Level 5 at Key Stage 2, Level 6 at Key Stage 3 and grade B at GCSE. More pupils than in the past are making two levels of progress during Key Stage 3, contributing to the increased percentages reaching Levels 5 and 6 by age 14. Even so, the Key Stage 2 and 3 figures of 77% and 76% reaching Levels 4 and 5 respectively still fall well short of the Government’s targets of 85% at each key stage.
Table 1: Pupils reaching the expected attainment thresholds in mathematics for each key stage in 2001, 2004 and 2007
||Percentage of pupils achieving selected threshold indicators
||Government target (and
||Within the Early Learning Goals
|Key Stage 1
|Key Stage 2
|Key Stage 3
|Key Stage 4 (GCSE)
9. Inspectors judge how well pupils have achieved in mathematics when their varied starting points are taken into account. Achievement was judged to be good or better in just over half of the schools visited during the period of this survey (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Achievement in mathematics in the schools surveyed (percentages of schools)
10. Although the proportions were broadly similar in primary and secondary schools, there was a clear difference between the phases in how well pupils learnt mathematics on a day-to-day basis. Secondary pupils made good progress in just under half the lessons observed. Nationally, this needs to be improved if all pupils’ life chances are to be enhanced.
The Characteristics of Good and Weaker Subject Leadership
69. The effective leaders used data strategically. Robust monitoring, a characteristic of good management, led to the accurate identification of strengths and areas for development but the best leaders took this one step further. They used the outcomes of monitoring and analysis of test results to inform approaches to teaching and learning and the development of the curriculum. They also used professional development opportunities to disseminate and build on good practice and to tackle areas of inconsistency and weaknesses. Effective practitioners helped colleagues to develop aspects of their work. Occasionally, this included developing teachers’ knowledge of mathematics, as well as how it might be taught. Teachers’ readiness and commitment to giving and receiving such support was a hallmark of the school or department’s ethos. Such an approach was seen not simply in high-achieving schools but also often in those working hard and effectively to improve, sometimes in challenging circumstances.
70. Conversely, weaker leaders tended to rely heavily on their assumptions about the strengths of individual teachers, the degree of consistency, and the extent of teamwork among staff. For example, subject leaders sometimes made assumptions about teachers’ use of activities to support ‘using and applying mathematics’. Some senior managers interpreted quiet individual work on textbook exercises as good learning in mathematics. While informal strategies provided some useful insights, they did not reliably uncover weaknesses and pinpoint areas for development. Monitoring which was insufficiently systematic and robust generated too rosy a view of provision and little impetus for improvement.
71. Good leadership was reflected in consistent approaches across a school or department, such as in developing mathematical language and attention to its accurate use. The best examples of this were in primary schools, where staff emphasised the development of pupils’ oral responses as a way of overcoming weaknesses in their communication skills.
Annex C in the report gives a useful list of features of mathematics teaching observed between April 2005 and December 2007 by Ofsted.
As such these may be useful lists to stimulate some debate about teaching and learning (both national and within your school) amongst your colleagues.