Ofsted Deep Dive (Maths) – Hanham Woods Academy, Bristol

Special Measures to Good.  November 2019

Report available here:


Our lead inspector, who happened to be an ex-Head of Maths, spent the majority of the first day within the Maths department.  This included having a 1-2-1 interview, a learning walk and a book look with the lead inspector.  Additionally, the lead inspector did a learning walk within maths with the school principal and also held a student voice session to gather student perceptions of the subject.  At the end of the day, the maths department were convened to discuss maths at Hanham Woods in general which lasted approximately 45 minutes.

I’ve included the questions that were asked to myself, the department and also some of my top tips for anyone going through an inspection under the new framework.  I hope they help.

To me personally…

  • Talk to me about the curriculum in maths…
  • What do you think explains the rise in Year 11 outcomes last year?
  • How much does the trust determine what you do at KS3?
  • …Would I be able to go into Year 7 at another school in the trust and see the same curriculum being enacted?
  • So, the Diagnostic Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) is your method of identifying misconceptions in KS3, what do you do/what does this look like in KS4?
  • Once you identify misconceptions/gaps in knowledge what do you do about it?
  • When we look at Year 8 in a minute (as part of the learning walk), what will they be doing?
  • What does assessment look like in KS3? …and then KS4?
  • How do you ensure that students don’t forget what you taught a month ago/half a term ago/last year? …Does everyone do this? 
  • So, I’ve flicked back a month or so in student books and asked students what they can remember and they can’t always tell me…what do you do to stop them forgetting material as a department?

To the department after school in the meeting

  • Have you thought about a common “calculation policy” in maths as I saw each teacher teaching solving equations in a different way. 
  • (Pretty much the same questions as asked to me directly but as a group).  Presumably this was to check that what I had said earlier was consistent across all staff members.
  • How do you make sure that students don’t forget material?
  • So say you mark their books and they can’t do much on circles, what do you do then?

Tips for others going through the inspection:

  • Don’t use the future tense.  What are you doing right now? 
  • Not interested in saying “teachers should be doing.”  Are they or aren’t they?  You should know and if you don’t know, make sure you build in ways to find out.
  • Be proactive not reactive.  Have a selection of books that you have in your head before you even know Ofsted are coming that you can select at the drop of a hat to show aspects of teaching and learning that you want to show: Reteach, Identifying misconceptions, evidence of corrections, strengths of the department etc. 
  • Make teachers proactive too.  Get them to have a selection of their best books at the back of the room (regardless of class) to show the inspector.  This is particularly useful if they’re teaching one of their weaker, lower attaining classes where the quality of books might not be as good as their other classes.
  • They only originally (Day 1) looked at 8 books to judge the department.  I should have collected much more books to show the lead inspector as this wasn’t representative of the quality of the department.
  • Basics I know…but, What are the key points that the inspector has to hear from you in your department in the short time you spend with them.  I only really had a 20-25 minute 1-2-1 with the inspector which goes extremely quickly.  The inspector kept probing my responses which meant I failed to get some of my key points across.  I had to feed these back to my line manager/principal to get these points across when they were talking to the inspector themselves.
  • Start building much more time in department meetings talking about the curriculum.  Why do we teach this when we do, what is the best way to teach this, what are we intending for students to do in Maths? 


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