Westminster Education Forum

Conferences that are scheduled to take place before September will be conducted online.
The format will mirror physical conferences organised by the Forum with speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish.
The conferences will be chaired and there will be opportunities for delegate questions and comments.
We will be contacting all participants in advance of each conference with full information and guidance on how to take part.
There will be some exceptions where conferences will be postponed, for instance those that would largely involve key stakeholders in the NHS or emergency services.
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Maths teaching in England - qualification reform, teacher recruitment and retention, and the impact of the new Ofsted inspection framework

Morning, Monday, 22nd June 2020

Online Conference


***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference will examine the next steps for the reform of maths teaching and qualifications in England.

It comes at a time of considerable uncertainty following the cancellation of GCSEs and A Levels this year due to the COVID-19 crisis, and the replacement of the exams with teacher assessments, as well as the transition to remote learning.

Delegates will look at the future of GCSE and A Level maths qualifications following the pandemic and how to support students taking GCSEs and A Levels this year - as well as those who are due to sit exams in 2021.

Key areas for discussion:

Adjusting to the reformed GCSEs and A Levels

  • The impact of GCSE and A Level reform on the maths curriculum and teaching staff.
  • Whether the new qualifications are meeting the government aim of being more rigorous and better preparing students for A Level and higher education.
  • Potentially increased teaching time needed for GCSE maths to sufficiently prepare students for exams, and its impact on the wider school curriculum and on preparation for the reformed A Level.
  • The experience of the new A Level, with the majority of students having sat exams in the reformed qualification for the first time last summer.
  • Grade boundaries - following concerns expressed when results were released last summer and the outcome of Ofsted’s A level maths - Maintenance of Standards Investigation, with discussion on:
    • the impact of the move to a linear structure for the qualification, the altered content of the new qualification, and the decoupling from the AS Level, and
    • the effect on teachers - particularly when teaching content that they are less familiar with.

The GCSE and Functional Skills Qualifications

  • How the new GCSE has affected the confidence of pupils, particularly those that are less able and whether it is effective for those that do not pass initially to re-sit the qualification.
  • Possible alternative qualifications, including suggestions that:
    • GCSEs should be split into two qualifications or the introduction of a Passport in Maths as proposed by ASCL, and
    • a new maths GCSE could be introduced in place of resits to allow students to achieve a level 4 or 5 qualification and focused on the maths needed for everyday life and work.
  • Implementation of the recently reformed Functional Skills Qualifications in maths, introduced last September, including:
    • recent concerns surrounding the invigilation of the new qualifications, and
    • how to ensure that they are providing students with skills relevant to employers.

Teacher recruitment

  • Recruitment and retention of teaching staff, with increased difficulties for schools in recruiting teachers with maths degrees.
  • Strategies for tackling significantly acute shortfalls in recruitment of teachers, particularly with relevant degrees - including options such as bursaries to help attract and retain maths teachers.


  • The impact of Ofsted’s new inspection framework on maths teaching so far - particularly its increased focus on the curriculum and the ‘quality of education’.
  • Looking ahead to Ofsted’s forthcoming thematic review of maths teaching.

Regional inequalities and initiatives

  • The impact of the maths hubs programme with 37 hubs now established across England and the rise in PISA rankings for England, with discussion expected on:
    • possible future expansion of the programme, and
    • how it can continue to spread best practice.
  • How numeracy skills can be improved in particular regions, such as in the North East, with:

Developments that are relevant to the discussion:

The agenda:

  • Maths teaching in England - key policy priorities
  • The impact of qualification reform on the maths curriculum and teaching staff - looking ahead to the new GCSEs and A Level curriculum, introduction of core maths, and qualifications post GCSE
  • Current standards of maths teaching in England - key findings from the OECD
  • Improving the quality of maths teaching: teacher recruitment and retention, teaching styles, the impact of maths hubs and adjusting to the new inspection framework
  • Maths and Ofsted’s new inspection framework - the impact so far on teaching and learning standards

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders.  Places have been reserved by officials from the Department for Education and the Welsh Government.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speakers

Andreas Schleicher

Director for the Directorate of Education and Skills, OECD

Cheryl Lloyd

Programme Head, Education, Nuffield Foundation


Eleanor Baggaley

Hub Lead (Post-16 Focus), Great North Maths Hub

Dr Jennie Golding

Associate Professor, Institute of Education, University College London

Jonathan Kay

Head of English and Maths, Tyne Coast College

Sylke Scheiner

Director of Assessment, OCR

Ian Davies

Head of Curriculum, White Rose Maths

Geoffrey Wake

Professor of Mathematics Education, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Nottingham

Charlie Stripp

Chief Executive, MEI and National Director, NCETM

Paul Glaister

Professor of Mathematics and Mathematics Education, University of Reading