The prime minister has revealed that modern methods of learning long division and multiplication have left him flummoxed when it comes to helping with his children’s homework.
David Cameron will be hoping the maths doesn’t fail him when it comes to counting votes after tomorrow’s election, but the Conservative leader has said that the “chunking” and “grid” methods used in primary schools to help children multiply and divide large numbers have left him scratching his head.
In an interview with metro.co.uk while on the campaign trail, the Conservative Party leader was asked whether he had ever been “stumped” by his children’s homework.
“Oh yes, sure,” he said. “The new way of teaching long division and multiplication… but apparently we’re changing it back to the traditional way. So I had to learn the new method, but hopefully we’re going back to the old method because the old method is better.”
Despite Mr Cameron’s vague assertion of the changes made to the teaching methods in maths, schools are still free to use both the chunking and grid techniques. However, pupils will be marked down in their key stage 2 tests if they show their working out using the methods.
Under plans put forward by the then education minister Elizabeth Truss in 2013 pupils would only be rewarded for using traditional short and long division and multiplication.
Ms Truss said that chunking and gridding were "confusing" and "time-consuming".
"Key stage 2 tests will be designed to reward pupils whose working shows they have used the efficient methods," Ms Truss said. "If children get the right answer, they get the marks. If they get the wrong answer but their working shows that they were using the most efficient methods, they will still be rewarded."