There has been some disagreement in terms of where the UK fits in with other countries for performance in maths. This current report is encouraging in the sense that our position is not as bad as we have suspected it to be.
However, we are still dropping down the international league, which cannot be a good thing. As we are now part of a more globalised economy, it matters more how our children compare with other children in the world. We cannot be content to just consider national statistics, and achievement in the context of our own nation.
It really saddens me when I hear again and again of students being coerced into spending Years 10 and 11 at high school focusing on taking and retaking Maths GCSE in the hopes of getting a grade C and then being ignored by the maths teacher for the rest of their time at school.
While I understand the need to ensure that the quality of education in schools is adequate, bland statistic-gathering does not ensure this. All we have achieved by monitoring the number of A*-C’s at each school, is an urge for teachers to get every child into that target group.
No matter if a student with A* potential achieves only a grade B – the teachers will be more chastised for the E-grade student who was only pulled up to a D.
There are no easy answers, so I won’t pretend to have them. But I do see many children wasting their potential and ruling out future careers, because their teachers have become desensitised through over-bureaucratic teaching assessment methods.
It really is the case that parenting is the true differentiator. If a child’s teachers cannot see his/her potential, then the only hope is for the parents to see it and nuture it.
Johnny Ball answers the question posed by a young girl: What number comes before infinity?
I am delighted to note that the BBC Radio 4 website now includes a well-stocked selection of resources on mathematics:
“Primary schools in England need to do more to help pupils struggling with maths, says Ofsted. But have new teaching methods left parents out in the cold and unable to help?”
A handful of new methods, with new terminology, can put parents off helping their children with maths homework. But this doesn’t need to remain the case.
My advice to parents who want to get more involved in their child’s maths education is to make enquiries at your child’s school to see how they can support you.
If you are not confident at maths yourself, now may be the time to build your understanding; it is never too late!
As a maths tutor, I would always encourage parents who want me to explain how to support their children in their homework. It only takes a couple of minutes to explain how the grid method works, for example. Or better yet, ask your child to explain the method to you.