Non-specialist maths teachers are less likely to receive ongoing training than those with a degree in the subject, but more likely to teach vulnerable children, new Ofsted research has found.
A subject report, due to be published by the watchdog next week, found “dramatic improvements” in maths teaching in English schools since it last published a report on the subject 11 years ago.
This included “regular ongoing training” for secondary maths teachers. However, Ofsted noted that non-specialists were “not getting the same quality of training that the specialists were getting”.
Presenting the findings at the Festival of Education at Wellington College on Thursday, Christopher Stevens, HMI and subject lead for music, said in several schools “a significant proportion” of key stage 3 curriculums were taught by non-specialists.
Evidence from 25 secondary schools was used for the report, the latest in a series evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of subject teaching.
A history subject report will also be published next week.
Training helps improve ‘explanations of concepts’
Stevens said ongoing training for maths teachers helped improve the quality of their “explanations” of concepts. However, “often those non-specialists were not getting that training”.
The findings come after Schools Week revealed that take-up for a scheme to boost the number of maths teachers by training non-specialists has plunged.
The National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM), which took over the scheme from the government, met just 57 per cent of its target for recruits over the past two academic years.
Stevens said Ofsted had also found that where schools’ “engagement was strong” with maths hubs, run by NCETM, “that was having a positive impact”.
Non-specialists, he added, were “far more likely” to be working with children “defined as more difficult or at the early stages of learning”.
“They didn’t have that expert input and the consequence of that for some of those children was that actually gaps widened,” he said.