Posted on 14th August 2012
The UK has an enormous problem. Well, it has quite a few problems actually, but when it comes to education, we have a particularly big problem with literacy and numeracy. A vast number of British adults are lacking basic literacy and numeracy skills, and the government is determined to stop students leaving school unable to write and do basic calculations. One of the ways in which they are trying to improve things is by overhauling the maths syllabus in primary schools.
Education secretary Michael Gove has put forward ideas for reforms, but as with most governmental proposals, not everyone is convinced that they are going to be a success. The charity National Numeracy is particularly concerned about Gove’s ideas for the maths curriculum and has said that his proposals contain “serious flaws”.
Michael Gove would like children aged five and six to be able to count to 100 and recognise basic fractions and common shapes. Children in year two should know the two, five and 10 times tables and be able to draw simple graphs. By the time they are nine, children should know their times tables up to 12 as well as read Roman numerals. The Department of Education things that this will help to put England’s maths curriculum “on par with the best of the world”, and that “rigour” [will be] restored”.
However, Chris Humphries, chair of National Numeracy, says that Gove’s plans may destroy the “breadth, balance and equality” in primary children’s school days. Moreover, others worry that there will be too much focus placed on learning off by heart, and not enough emphasis on using maths in real life and applied situations.
National Numeracy feel so passionately about Gove’s proposals that they wrote a letter to the education secretary, in which the charity says the plans are “undeliverable” and “overloaded”.
The current plans for the new curriculum are only an initial draft, and they are still being reviewed, so it will be interesting to see whether the government pays any attention to National Numeracy’s cautions, or whether they plough on regardless. The full curriculum will be presented for consultation in the New Year, so there are still a few months to go in which everything (or nothing) might change.
What do you think should be on the new maths curriculum for primary schools? Let us know your thoughts. Maybe you also think that the secondary curriculum should be put up for review as well? We’d love to hear your opinion.