Ofsted has told the Department for Education (DfE) that it should raise the bar when it comes to mathematics, despite the fact that performance in the subject is on the up.
A new report published by the education watchdog today has revealed that the number of young people taking A-level mathematic is increasing, with GCSE and A-level results also improving.
The regulator's study identifies the key role that secondary teachers have played in this improvement, but says that there is still more work for the government to do to bring maths standards to where they should be.
Commenting on the report, Sir Michael Wilshaw, chief inspector at Ofsted, said that too many children are not achieving their full potential in the essential subject.
"Too many pupils do not fulfil their potential, including many of the most able, and those who get off to a poor mathematical start or fall behind in their learning never catch up," he said.
"Ofsted will support schools to learn from the best, those with the best teaching and assessment and a well organised, mathematically rich, engaging curriculum."
The study outlines the work that needs to be done, with Ofsted warning that more action needs to be taken when children show signs of falling behind.
Statistics show that the ten per cent who fail to reach the expected standards at the age of seven doubles to 20 per cent by 11 and by the time they reach 16 has almost doubled again.
There is also evidence that less-able pupils receive the weakest teaching and Ofsted says that inspectors have on occasion witnessed outstanding, satisfactory and inadequate teaching all within one school.
Finally, the report suggests that entering pupils early for maths GCSEs is preventing them achieving their full potential, though some schools have argued that the practice helps boost confidence a year before being entered for higher papers.
The recommendations were welcomed by professor Celia Hoyles, the director of the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM).
"A deep understanding of mathematics and of subject-specific pedagogy is crucial for teachers of mathematics," she said.
"The NCETM welcomes the recommendations Ofsted have made, and looks forward to helping to embed them as part of the professional development of all mathematics teachers."
Posted by Theo Foulds