Good practice in mathematics at key stage 4 - October 2013


This report is published in response to a request for advice from the Welsh Government in the Minister’s annual remit to Estyn for 2012-2013. The report examines standards in mathematics at key stage 4. Transition from key stage 4 to post-16 is outside the scope of the report. The report includes case studies of best practice.


Mathematics departments should:

  • make sure that pupils develop secure number, algebraic and problem-solving skills at key stage 3;
  • improve the quality of teaching and learning in mathematics lessons by making sure that:
    • lessons are well structured, engaging and challenging, and link to other
      topics and subjects; and
    • number and algebraic skills are developed and applied in new contexts;
  • use assessment to inform pupils about how they are doing and what they need to do to improve;
  • minimise early entry for GCSE in mathematics and ensure that pupils follow courses of study that allow them to achieve the highest grades;
  • base self-evaluation and improvement planning on evidence from observing pupils’ standards in mathematics lessons and scrutiny of their work; and
  • share best practice within and between schools and use it to support teachers' professional development.

Local authorities and regional consortia should:

  • provide support, advice and professional development opportunities for mathematics teachers, including facilitating professional networks to share best practice.

The Welsh Government should:

  • support schools and regional consortia in raising standards in mathematics for all pupils; and
  • review National Curriculum level descriptors at key stage 3 with the view to raising levels of expectation at level 5 in number and algebraic skills.

Best practice case studies

  • Porthcawl Comprehensive School, Bridgend
  • Llanishen High School, Cardiff
  • Radyr High School, Cardiff
  • Ysgol Bryngwyn School, Carmarthenshire
  • Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Bro Myrddin, Carmarthenshire
  • Ysgol Eirias, Conwy
  • Duffryn High School, Newport
  • Treorchy Comprehensive School, RCT
  • Bishop Gore Comprehensive School, Swansea
  • Cefn Hengoed Community School, Swansea

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