"Well, there is only one piece of advice I can give you," said the wisest of wise men. "The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon."

('The Alchemist' Paulo Coelho)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Maths champions

A new report out today highlights the need for more maths specialists in primary schools and wants 13,000 existing teachers trained as such over the next ten years. The Primary Numeracy Strategy, introduced about ten years ago, is generally accepted to have improved maths teaching and learning in primary schools and I would say that it emphasises the importance of mental maths and also of engaging in and assimilating a wide range of strategies. Having spent most of my school years as a maths phobic, I always enjoyed teaching the Numeracy Strategy and it certainly played a part in improving children's understanding and confidence. It seems, though, that the proposed training will then rely on the new maths champions 'cascading' their knowledge and expertise within their schools to colleagues, which has long been found to be a relatively inefficient method of training.
However, the recognition of the need for greater expertise in maths teaching will, hopefully, also help to focus on the largely unrecognised problem of Year 6 (top junior) teachers being expected to have a level of expertise and knowledge commensurate with teacher of lower secondary classes, but across the whole curriculum, rather than just in their own specialism, as is the case for secondary teachers.


  1. The trouble with a lot of maths teachers is that they've gone into maths teaching because they like maths, and therefore they can't understand why people don't like it and can't understand it. As for "cascading", it just sounds like a word meaning "doing it on the cheap".

  2. 'Cascading' - an exact definition, Daphne! My experience certainly is that maths specialists find it very difficult to 'put it across' in an understandable way.



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