Concerns over pupils’ maths skills at half of Welsh schools

The BBC is reporting that schools watchdog Estyn has said too many pupils struggle with the basics and more needs to be done to weave maths across all subjects in schools in Wales…

Education Minister Huw Lewis said schools must show a “greater sense of urgency” to improve the subject.

The minister said schools must ask themselves honest questions about the issue and how to address numeracy.

As a result, Mr Lewis said he was organising a conference of maths teachers to be held in the new year.

In an interview with BBC Wales, Mr Lewis said: “We need a greater sense of urgency from schools.

“It really is time now for head teachers in particular to ask themselves very honestly: ‘Is my school operating well enough in terms of that whole-school numeracy policy or do we need to apply some urgent attention to this?’.”

Improving numeracy is an education priority for the Welsh government and it introduced the National Numeracy Programme in 2012…

Estyn’s findings

  • In just under half of primary and secondary schools inspected in 2013-2014, pupils develop good or better numeracy skills
  • In the remaining schools, pupils’ numerical skills are at best average
  • The majority of pupils have an appropriate understanding of times-tables, the four rules of number, place value and fractions
  • However, there are still too many pupils who lack confidence with division and percentages
  • In around half of schools, planning is still superficial on numeracy
  • In a majority of schools visited, teachers are uncertain of what the term ‘numerical reasoning’ means
  • Maths is a real problem area for schools in Wales
  • Last year, despite narrowing the gap with England overall in our GCSE performance, in maths, the gap more than doubled
  • In 2013, 52.8% of pupils in Wales achieved an A*-C grade in maths, but by this year the figure had dropped to 50.6%

Estyn’s chief inspector, Anne Keane said: “Pupils’ numerical reasoning skills are generally not strong enough and this is something that we see too often in school inspections and thematic work.

“Staff need more support to widen their knowledge and understanding of strategies to help pupils to use numeracy across the curriculum.”…

More at: Concerns over pupils’ maths skills at half of Welsh schools


It would be interesting to know what Estyn means by “average”, and compared with what, as it sounds a bit like one of those “we have a problem because half are worse than average” statements that challenge maths in their own right. Anyway, your thoughts on what’s happening with maths in Wales? Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter… 


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