Reading and Maths in the new Ofsted Education Inspection Framework: What primary school teachers need to know

new ofstead framework

As you’re probably already aware, a new Ofsted Education Inspection Framework will come into force in September 2019. You can get an overview of the new Framework in our blog post ‘The new Ofsted Education Inspection Framework: What’s changed?’ We’ve taken a closer look at the Framework, alongside the new School Inspection Handbook that Ofsted inspectors will be using, and have pulled out some of the key points relating to how they will be assessing reading and maths in Primary schools. 

Reading: 5 things Ofsted inspectors are looking for

The School Inspection Handbook explicitly states that assessing how well pupils are taught to read will be prioritised as a main inspection activity. Here are five important things that inspectors will be looking for when making the new ‘Quality of Education’ judgement:

1) Schools should be determined that every pupil will learn to read, prioritising reading as a foundation for future learning, and enabling children to access the rest of the curriculum and avoid falling behind. 

2) Particular attention will be paid to pupils who are reading below age-related expectations (the lowest 20%) to assess how well your school is teaching phonics and supporting all children to become confident, fluent readers. Inspectors will listen to several low-attaining pupils in Years 1 to 3 read from unseen books appropriate to their progress, drawing on information from your school’s reading policy, phonics assessments, phonics screening check results and lesson observations.

3) A sequential approach to the reading curriculum is expected; the sequence of reading books should demonstrate a cumulative progression in phonics knowledge, matched closely to your school’s phonics programme, followed by ongoing reading progress throughout KS2.

4) A mix of stories, poems, rhymes and non-fiction should be used to develop pupils’ vocabulary, language comprehension and continuing enjoyment of reading. 

5) The ongoing assessment of pupils’ reading progress should be frequent and detailed so that it identifies any pupil who is falling behind. Any gaps should be addressed quickly and effectively, with targeted support. 

Maths: 5 things Ofsted inspectors are looking for

Inspectors will evaluate the quality of mathematics education through lesson observations, discussions with pupils and looking at their work, reviewing curriculum plans, discussions with curriculum leaders, and examining published data. Here are five specific things that inspectors will be looking for when it comes to ‘Quality of Education’ in maths teaching:

1) Schools’ curriculum planning for maths should systematically build mathematical knowledge and skills. This means that children should be able to understand and draw on the knowledge, concepts and procedures they have already learned, and apply these to where they are now in their learning, as well as in the next stage. 

2) Opportunities to show how mathematical reasoning and problem solving can be used to solve practical problems in everyday life should be identified and made the most of. You should also be thinking about the ways that pupils’ mathematical knowledge can be used and developed elsewhere across the curriculum. 

3) New material should be divided into manageable steps, with new procedures modelled, and using resources and approaches that help pupils understand what they are learning. Inspectors will be checking that you are revisiting pupils’ previously learned knowledge, concepts and procedures to make sure that their mathematical knowledge becomes deeply embedded, encouraging rapid recall and increasing their maths confidence. 

4) Flexible curriculum planning should be used to address any gaps in pupils’ knowledge that stops them from learning new content, with assessment used to identify when they have reached the understanding they need to move on to new or more complex maths. 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.

5) Inspectors will expect all teachers, including non-specialists, to have sufficient maths subject-knowledge, and for them to be supported by the necessary resources and professional development they need to deliver topics effectively.


Want more details?The Ofsted Education Inspection Framework and School Inspection Handbook are available in full on the gov.uk website.

Download the Ofsted Education Inspection Framework 

Download the Ofsted School Inspection Handbook

Get support from Oxford 

We can support you with a range of resources that meet the requirements of the new Ofsted Education Inspection framework. Book an appointment with your local Educational Consultant now