Pupils' 'basic maths' struggle

Pupils are struggling with basic maths in half of the secondary schools inspected between 2010-2012, according to the school's inspectorate.

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Welsh government welcomes numeracy report

This report shows where we have been successful in developing numeracy skills in our schools and in teaching numeracy across the curriculum and where performance needs to be strengthened. The recommendations will inform the ongoing work of the Welsh Government, local authorities and schools to ensure that numeracy levels are improved. We welcome the report's findings and congratulate those schools and local authorities highlighted whose effective approaches and collaborative work in helping to raise learners' numeracy skills are leading the way.

We have clear evidence that the best results are obtained where there is an agreed, co-ordinated approach to teaching and learning in numeracy. Where numeracy is given the requisite priority in school improvement plans and where numeracy skills are taught systematically and pupils given enough opportunities to apply their skills substantial improvements can be achieved.

The recommendations in Estyn's report illustrate why the actions outlined in the National Numeracy Programme are key in helping to raise overall levels of attainment in numeracy in schools in Wales.

– Welsh government spokesperson

Estyn: Issues with basic maths 'need to be tackled'

We know that many schools have not given as much attention to numeracy as they have done for literacy, but it is vital that schools have clear plans for developing numeracy skills. The plans need to address young people's weak numeracy skills so that they can do mental arithmetic, grasp numerical reasoning and don't have to rely on a calculator.

Basic numeracy is an essential life skill that is needed in most jobs and in managing personal finances. But a majority of pupils struggle to understand how numeracy is relevant to their everyday lives and this needs to be tackled.

– Ann Keane, Estyn Chief Inspector


Basic maths still a problem for many pupils

Many children still lack basic number skills Credit: Barry Batchelor PA Wire Press Association

Pupils lack basic maths skills, such as knowing how to multiply, in about two-fifths of primary schools and half of secondary schools in Wales. That's according the school's inspectorate, ESTYN, following inspections that were carried out between 2010-2012.

The report says that pupils cannot apply advanced numeracy skills because they are struggling with the basics. Some pupils struggle with decimals, fractions and percentages, such as understanding the relationships between 2/5ths, 0.4 and 40%.

Other aspects that need to be improved are the tracking and monitoring of pupils' progress. Only a minority of primary schools and a few secondary schools have effective systems to track pupils' progress in numeracy beyond their maths lessons.

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