A large percentage … a big proportion … lots of adults can’t do maths

A new UK charity has been set-up to highlight numeracy issues and tackle national attitudes towards numeracy.

National Numeracy, which launched on 1 March 2012, says that the number of adults in England with poor numeracy skills has reached 17 million, nearly half the working-age population. The charity points to the Government’s Skills for Life survey of 2011 which showed that nearly one in two adults had numeracy skills roughly equivalent to those expected of primary school age children. Many working people, the survey reports, cannot understand pay and deductions on a wage slip.

Chris Humphries, the Chair of National Numeracy says that “It is simply inexcusable for anyone to say ‘I can’t do maths’. It’s a peculiarly British disease which we aim to eradicate. It doesn’t happen in other parts of the world, and it’s hitting our international competitiveness. With encouragement and good teaching, everyone can improve their numeracy.”

The charity intends to campaign to change negative attitudes towards maths and work with partner organisations to identify and spread new ways of improving standards of numeracy.

Colin at QEd Publications … get some maths help here.

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We’ve got to do SOMETHING

Secondary school pupils are so scared of looking stupid in maths lessons they will not tell their teachers if they do not understand, suggests research.

A survey of 1,000 10- to 16-year-olds found two-thirds would rather struggle alone or ask friends or family for help.

Half of the 15- and 16-year-olds felt they should already know the answer.

A government spokeswoman said plans to overhaul maths teaching would give children more confidence.

The reasons pupils gave for not asking for help more often were that they were worried about looking foolish, were embarrassed or did not want to draw attention to themselves.

The survey suggests that older teenagers are more timid than younger pupils when it comes to answering questions in class.

via BBC News – School maths lessons: Pupils ‘scared to ask for help’.

It was only last week that the BBC reported on some research indicating that a high percentage of adults could not ‘do’ GCSE level maths. When the nation’s competence compares so unfavourably to so many others, at what point do we sit up and take notice? We are producing a massive semi-literate and semi-numerate underclass.

Colin at QEd Publications

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Rubbish at Maths

Maths education in England is not fit for purpose, with one in four adults now functionally innumerate, a report warned today.

The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) warned that England risks falling behind other countries in the subject.

Scotland is outperforming its neighbours south of the border, with a quarter of students studying maths until the age of 18 compared to 15% of those in England.

RSA associate director Emma Norris said: “With nearly 50% of our students failing to achieve GCSE mathematics, long term reform should be an urgent priority for ministers.

“English students would benefit from maths education that’s flexible to learner needs, rather than the regimented exam-driven approach that currently characterises England’s mathematics qualifications.”

The RSA said lessons could be learned from other countries, such as Hong Kong, where all pupils study maths until either getting a job or starting university.

A bit depressing …


Colin at QEd Publications

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Time and Money

Four in a Row: Time and MoneyThere are many resources to teach children time and money . . . but not many that are quite so interesting and unusual as this. 

Based on the game Connect 4, this is a genuinely brilliant idea to get children working with seconds, minutes and hours, relating analogue and digital times, changing 12 hour times to 24 hour times; adding, subtracting and dividing coins, working out percentages . . . all in a simple games format they will play endlessly!

That’s quite a bold claim . . . but we’ve done it before with the original Four in a Row (which dealt with reinforcing number facts) and we know just how successful it was at engaging children. Our customers who are big fans of Four in a Row prompted us to do a Time and Money version – hence this edition. 

The book is divided into two sections (obviously!), each dealing with time and money. Each section is broken down into several subsections designed to improve understanding, gradually increasing levels of difficulty. Suitable for primary (and children struggling with these skills in secondary), the book contains hundreds of photocopiable master sheets (114 pages).

Order your copy now . . . or go online and have a look at some of the sample pages (Time and Money)

Colin at QEd Publications

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Maths at home

OK, so the summer holidays are here and the last thing in the world most children want to do is any form of maths … and can you blame them??

If you do plan to do any sort of revision work during the holidays make sure it’s fun!! We have a book called Four in a Row that is perfect … really!

It’s a really simple idea based on the idea of Connect 4, but using numbers. It’s competitive, fun … and without realising it, children are doing some serious mental maths.

We’ll put a video of kids playing the game on our website soon, but there are details about Four in a Row.

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The language of maths

Many children who have difficulties with number work find reading difficult as well. The concept of sequence can also be a big hurdle.

Children need to learn to work as independently as possible … so it’s important to start with activities that are achievable. Start with very limited vocabulary such as ‘and’ ‘add’ ‘more’ ‘makes’ ‘altogether’ ‘total’ for addition words and ‘less’ ‘take way’ ‘left’ ‘away’ ‘leaves’ ‘less than’ for subtraction words. Print them out on separate pieces of paper so that the children can use them.

Start by getting children to make up a word problem of their own (try and use some pictures to help them do this). For example:

Jack has 2 balls

Lucy has 1 ball

Now, make a word problem … working towards: How many balls do Jack and Lucy have in total? 

There are some excellent examples of this in Word Problems: The Language of Mathematics

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Word Problems

Often children can do the calculation … the mechanical aspect … but put the calculation into a written context and the same children will find it confusing.

For example 21 -4 = ? is fairly straightforward. But presented as:

“There are 21 slices in a loaf of bread. I use 4 slices to make a packed lunch. How many slices of bread are left?” … and the same children will ask “Is it an add or take away?”

It’s all about the language of mathematics … and problem solving. For many children it is absolutely essential to follow a gradual approach, introducing one concept at a time, with plenty of visual clues.

More of this tomorrow.

Colin at QEd

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