‘Misleading messages’ about maths in Ofsted’s Bold Beginnings report, says academic

Tes reports that the principal lecturer in mathematics education at the University of Roehampton has sent an open letter to Ofsted, criticising the maths content of its recent report into the Reception year curriculum. 

Ofsted’s report on the English reception curriculum recommends that “the DfE should.., raise the profile of early mathematics teaching” and that “Primary schools should… devote sufficient time each day to the direct teaching…of mathematics”.

The report clearly makes the case for the importance of teaching early mathematics, and of not leaving it to chance.

Ofsted identifies the great lack of investment in professional development for mathematics compared to literacy, as well as the need to review the curriculum and provide support for teachers. 

However, there are some misleading messages.

While the report emphasises practical and playful activities for teaching mathematics to four and five year olds, it places a lot of emphasis on progressing to the Year 1 curriculum. The accepted priority for early years teachers internationally is to make sure that all children, and particularly those who are disadvantaged, acquire foundational number skills and understanding.

There is a danger in emphasising the raised expectations in Year 1 in England: this risks rushing children on, with only shaky foundations, which can be counterproductive.

Teaching early number need not mean endangering children’s right to play: ‘direct teaching’ need not mean formal teaching.  We know from research that effective teaching strategies for very young children can include frequent opportunities for children to practice and consolidate their skills in daily routines, such as sharing snacks and tidying up, in stories and rhymes and in playing games indoors and out.

Read more analysis and Ofsted’s misleading messages   ‘Misleading messages’ about maths in Ofsted’s Bold Beginnings report, says academic

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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