Q3. Do different groups of pupils make equally good progress in science and maths?
Why this is important
Ofsted inspectors consider how :
- assessment information is used to identify pupils who require additional support and challenge high achieving pupils45
- Pupil Premium funding is spent to help pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds; more than a quarter of pupils receiving Free School Meals (FSM) enter secondary school below the expected level, which affects their chances of progression and achievement later in education.4647
Additional information to be aware of:
- Research shows certain groups can be under-marked by teachers, who should be aware of this and try to ensure their judgements are as objective as possible.48
- There is evidence that teacher anxiety in mathematics is linked to pupil anxiety, and this may be especially the case between female teachers and students.49 This may impact on a pupil’s attitude towards the subject, making the development of teacher confidence in all subjects vital (see T4).
According to the data below, more than a quarter of pupils receiving free school meals enter secondary school below the expected level. This can impact on their progression and achievement later in education.
|Level 4+||Making expected progress|
|First language||Not English||84%||92%|
|Free school meals (FSM)||FSM||75%||84%|
|Not on FSM||88%||91%|
|Special educational needs (SEN)||All SEN||57%||74%|
|No identified SEN||94%||94%|
Achievement at level 4 or above and making expected progress in maths in Key Stage 2 by pupil characteristics in state-funded schools in England in 2013
The Department for Education provides access to data on the percentage of pupils in state-funded schools in England achieving level 4 or above and achieving level 5 or above in both Key Stage 2 tests and teacher assessments.52
Table 2 shows that boys are more likely than girls to achieve at higher levels (level 5 or above) in maths, but not in science.
|Level 4+||Level 5+|
|Maths teacher assessment||Boys||87%||46%|
|Science teacher assessment||Boys||87%||38%|
Percentage of pupils achieving level 4 and above and level 5 and above in Key Stage 2 tests and teacher assessments in 2013 in all schools in England
Chart 3 and Chart 4 below show that in the 2012 science national sampling tests, boys also slightly outperformed girls at higher levels (level 5 or above).
Ideas for improvement
You can encourage your school to use the FFT School self-evaluation tool to get a full picture of acheivement in the school.
School leaders should consider the individual circumstances of all pupils on the roll of the school to identify any groups which require additional support. Information on how teachers may assess their pupils can be found in Q1.
All teachers should understand how unconscious bias can affect children’s developing views of themselves and their ambitions. Teachers should be trained in how to address unconscious bias and counter any emerging stereotypes – particularly those relating to the expectations for boys and girls in specific subjects.
There is a range of information for teachers to support the teaching of particular groups of pupils:
- The Primary Science Teaching Trust provides online continuing professional development (CPD), including resources on teaching primary science to pupils with English as an additional language.54
- The National Science Learning Centre offers CPD on providing differentiation for all pupils in teaching, including training on the new code of practice in SEN and recommendations on the use of pupil premium.55
- The National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics produced a series of microsites, covering topics including ‘High Attaining Pupils in Primary Schools’ and ‘Special Educational Needs Mathematics Teachers’.56
- The Education Endowment Foundation toolkit is an evidence based tool to with guidance on raising the achievement of disadvantaged pupils.
Other questions in Assessment
- Q1. How do teachers assess the progress of their pupils in science and maths?
- Q2. How well do pupils achieve in science and maths and what is the trend over time for achievement?