Numeracy plan to boost pupils' maths skills in Wales

Education Minister Leighton Andrews met pupils working on a numeracy programme in Swansea

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Poor results which showed pupils in Wales falling behind other countries have led to the launch of a national numeracy programme.

Education Minister Leighton Andrews says he wants to change the view that being poor with numbers is acceptable.

Numeracy tests will be held in classes from Years 2 to 9.

Results showed pupils in Wales are the equivalent of half an academic year behind others for mathematical literacy.

Start Quote

Nothing is more important than ensuring all of our young people have the skills they need to succeed in school and the world of work”

End Quote Leighton Andrews Education Minister

The National Numeracy Programme (NPP) was launched on Wednesday by the minister at Ynystawe Primary School in Swansea and comes after a national literacy plan was unveiled in May.

It has been developed after the Welsh government consulted with local and international academics specialising in numeracy as well as school improvement.

They were called in as the last Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) tests three years ago showed Wales was below average for reading and maths, and average for science among 15-year-olds out of 65 countries.

The NNP said that while GCSE results showed children in Wales were progressing, those in England were improving faster.

'Skills they need'

"Nothing is more important than ensuring all of our young people have the skills they need to succeed in school and the world of work," said Mr Andrews.


Maths questions

Newport maths expert Paul Godding has 25 years' experience working with pupils and teachers.

He uses games and puzzles to teach children numeracy although he says "they don't realise they are doing maths".

He says as some adults freely admit "they are no good with maths" and children probably develop the same attitude.

And he says while teachers are continually trying to find new ways to engage with children with maths and numeracy, emphasis in Britain is placed more on sports.

Mr Godding endorses the idea that to improve standards, numeracy should be taught across the curriculum, saying it helps with everything in life - even sport.

The report explains that adults with numeracy skills equivalent to that of a Year 9 pupil, aged 13-14, earn 26% more than those without.

The NNP says more training will be provided for newly qualified teachers, including a new course, a Masters in Educational Practice.

The programme drawn up for the Welsh government will be used by local authorities, headteachers and school governors.

The NNP says it will focus on four key areas:

  • Enhancing numeracy across the curriculum
  • Advancing teaching practice in numeracy
  • Supporting learners quickly and successfully
  • Communicating the power of numeracy.

It said: "We believe that these themes will collaboratively impact and raise numeracy standards.

"We need to ensure that we have a world-class curriculum, with highly skilled teaching staff, and a range of interventions specifically designed to ensure that all learners reach their potential."

The plan is to introduce the changes starting from next year with the aim to improve teaching standards and results and to identify more quickly children needing help to catch up.

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