In December 2017, Craig Barton interviewed me for his Mr Barton Maths podcast. Those of you in the know will have listened to his interviews with guests from the world of education. Now it was my time. A wide-ranging chat followed that was both enjoyable and thought-provoking.
In his usual maths speed-dating style, Craig asked me about my career path before and within Ofsted. He then gave me a chance to talk about inspecting mathematics. It was an opportunity to bust some myths about inspection, such as Ofsted not looking for any preferred teaching style. But most of all, we talked about mathematics education, especially teaching and learning. We discussed the curriculum and aspects of assessment, including the tricky topic of marking. So much about marking and feedback is done in Ofsted’s name and that shouldn’t be the case as you’ll hear in the podcast.
You’ll hear us discussing inspection in schools and lesson observations and talking to pupils, teachers, leaders, governors and others involved in pupils’ education.
Craig gave me the chance to reflect on what I’ve learned in my role and to consider what I would do differently if I was teaching now. For instance, I’d have loved to have a visualiser in my classroom. Now, I would make full use of hands-on equipment to support pupils’ understanding and development of visual images.
He asked me what advice I would give to today’s teachers, as well as what I wish I’d known when I first started teaching. You’ll find my thoughts on these at the end of the podcast.
It’s a long podcast and listening to it could fill several journeys to school. However, Craig assured me that his audience have an appetite for these and will listen with interest.
Time flew because we were discussing things we both care deeply about. His outline at the start and his final reflections top and tail our discussion well.
I relished this conversation because, in my role, I tend to ask questions rather than answer them. I commented on what a privilege it has been to be one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors. The jewel in the crown has been my national role leading mathematics as Ofsted’s specialist. In this, I've endeavoured to ‘tell it as it is’, but always in a practical way to help improve teaching, learning and subject leadership.
When I speak at conferences, I don’t always have a lot of time, so it was good to be able to expand further on some aspects. It’s been great to add my voice to the diverse and fascinating collection of mathematics education podcasts. I hope you will find some nuggets in there to help you.