Ofsted Myth-Busting: Maths

Ofsted: Maths

As you know, the new Ofsted Inspection Framework came into force in September 2019, which means that the first inspections under the new Framework have now taken place. The changes to the Framework may have left you wondering what a new Ofsted inspection focusing on maths might involve, and how best to prepare. That’s where we can help you.

We’ve spent time talking with schools to find out the biggest challenges when it comes to maths and Ofsted, and have found out what inspectors will be looking for in relation to these. We’re setting out to bust any myths you might have heard about the new inspections, so that you can rest assured that you have all the information and tools you need for your school to be prepared. 

What are your main maths concerns?

Schools throughout the country have told us that the biggest challenges the new Ofsted Framework is presenting are related to:

  • Sequencing from Reception to Year 6, with small steps of progression 
  • Children’s reasoning, problem solving and mathematical language
  • Identifying gaps in learning and catching children before they fall behind 
  • Identifying when to go deeper and providing greater depth
  • NQT and non-specialist teacher knowledge
  • Managing workload

What will a new Ofsted inspection focusing on maths involve?

Be ready for a ‘deep dive’ in maths. This means that inspectors will gather evidence on the intent, implementation and impact of your school’s maths curriculum – something that will be done in collaboration with leaders, teachers and pupils. The idea of the ‘deep dive’ is to establish a coherent evidence base of ‘quality of education’. This is one of four new judgements in the new Framework that are intended to help inspectors recognise schools that are doing the best for their pupils, particularly in challenging circumstances.  

Here’s an overview of what inspectors will be looking for when they’re considering each of these aspects in order to reach a ‘quality of education’ judgement:


  • You need to demonstrate ambitious aims for all pupils in maths, supported by coherent curriculum planning, sequencing and connecting of learning.
  • Inspectors will want to see that any pupils who are behind age-related expectations are given opportunities to learn the mathematical knowledge and skills they need to catch up.
  • Teachers will need to demonstrate that children are taught maths concepts in small steps and aren’t moved on until learning is secure.
  • All class teachers (including NQTs) should understand, explain and demonstrate the intent behind your school’s maths curriculum.
  • Intent is further evidenced in children’s work, and how they talk about maths.


  • You need to ensure that all teachers are equipped with good maths subject knowledge, and are supported by the necessary resources and professional development to deliver topics effectively.
  • Teachers should make effective use of appropriate resources and assessment to avoid unnecessary workload.
  • Inspectors will be looking for consistency throughout your whole school, with different class teachers using the same approaches. 
  • Teachers should identify opportunities to show how mathematical reasoning and problem solving can be used to solve practical problems in everyday life, and should make the most of these opportunities.


  • You need to demonstrate the impact of your school’s approach to maths teaching on all pupils, with a particular focus on closing gaps for the most disadvantaged.
  • Assessment should be used to identify when children have reached the understanding they need to move on to new or more complex maths (knowing when children are ready to go deeper).

Start preparing now 

We’re here to help you demonstrate your curriculum’s intent, ensure it’s properly implemented, and to measure your curriculum’s impact. Head to our Ofsted webpage, where you’ll find lots of practical advice to ensure your maths programme is Ofsted-ready, including:

  • Expert events focusing on practical solutions for primary maths curriculum design, taking place around the country.
  • A FREE Staff Meeting Planning Pack to download, containing everything you need to run a session supporting you and your colleagues as you think about what preparing for a new Ofsted inspection focusing on maths might involve. It will help you to examine where your school is on this journey and to start considering your next steps.
  • Resources to match your school’s specific needs.
  • And much more!

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