Headlines: June 18th, 2008

Plans have been announced to change the attitudes of teachers and children to maths through a programme which will see at least one teacher in every primary school in England going through maths training.

The United Kingdom is still one of the few advanced nations where it is socially acceptable to profess an inability to cope with mathematics. The programme has been designed to reverse this trend so that every pupil will leave primary school without a fear of maths. This will involve bringing about a shift in attitudes to reverse the “can’t do attitude” to maths.

The programme envisages collaboration between carers, childminders, parents and teachers in reversing the can’t do attitude and helping children understand numbers and their importance in the world around them.

The specialist math teacher in the primary schools will be a “maths champion” and act as a mentor and coach to colleagues as well as being an outstanding classroom teacher for their pupils. To achieve this goal, maths teachers will receive up to 8,000 pounds in incentive payments and rewards to train towards gaining a Masters in maths teaching. The training envisaged will involve 13,000 existing primary school teachers. There will be a fast-track training programme for teachers who have specialised in maths teaching during their training.

There will also be a shift in early age learning about numbers and shapes and this will be “rooted in play”. This early age shift is critical to ensuring that basic maths concepts and language are firmly embedded in children’s minds to give confidence in using numbers. Without this confidence children will not do well at secondary level and in their GCSEs.

Maths will be embedded in different subjects across the curriculum, as well as in maths lessons. Children will also be encouraged to use maths in different ways, such as in the playground with sand and water and games like hopscotch.