A major Ofsted report into mathematics teaching has suggested that teachers of the subject need to do more to help students despite continued improvements in GCSE and A-level results.

Inspectors visited over 300 schools and observed over 1,500 maths lessons beween January 2008 and July 2011 and found that more than half were outstanding or good in maths teaching.

However, they also identified three key areas where teaching could be improved:
- Not enough is being done to help pupils who fall behind early to catch up - 10 per cent do not reach the expected standard at age seven but this doubles to 20% by age 11 and nearly doubles again by 16.

- Pupils in lower ability sets and younger pupils receive the weakest teaching though they saw outstanding and satisfactory teaching, and sometimes inadequate too, within an individual school.

- Many of the brightest pupils do not fulfil their potential when they get to secondary school - 37,000 of the highest attaining primary school pupils went on to achieve no better than a grade C at GCSE in maths last year.

TV maths expert Carol Vorderman, who chaired a government committee on maths teaching last year, welcomed the report.

She said: "Primary initial teacher training has not addressed the lack of mathematical ability in graduates training to be teachers, almost all of whom gave up maths at GCSE level.

"My sadness is to see how marked the difference in achievement and education is for those students on free school meals.

"As a 'free school meals kid' at a comprehensive myself it was only because of my superb maths teacher that I was able to get to Cambridge. It is time for change."

Posted 22/05/2012 by richard.hook@pavpub.com