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Every second accounted for

Teachers see the new numeracy lesson plans as a plus. Helen Ward reports on the first appraisal of the scheme

Step-by-step numeracy lesson plans have been broadly welcomed by teachers who say they have removed some of the donkey work from their day.

The scheme, part of the National Numeracy Strategy, is being piloted with pupils aged nine to 11 in more than 90 authorities.

Teachers are advised on the start, middle and end of each lesson on a particular topic. And those taking part say the scheme is helpful.

Graham Heap, general inspector for maths in Cambridgeshire where 83 schools are taking part, said: "It gives a lot of good detail of activities that teachers can use and gives them a basis from which to work.

"It helps with more difficult parts of the national numeracy strategy such as the plenary session."

Jaspaul Hill, headteacher at Mayfield primary school in Cambridge, said:

"The lesson plans have been warmly welcomed as they save an awful lot of work."

The plans are also popular in Luton. Gill O'Neill, acting headteacher at Ferrars junior school, said: "It is very step-by-step - the only thing left for teachers to do is indicate any differentiation.

"It reduces workload so teachers can concentrate on the lesson itself. Their skills can be used to adapt them."

The proportion of pupils attaining level 4 in maths at the end of Year 6 fell in 2001 by one percentage point to 71 per cent.

* A study published today in the National Institute Economic Review shows that detailed lesson plans can help boost results.

The paper "Raising Standards and Reducing Diversity in Primary Maths" examines the Improving Primary Mathematics project which uses detailed lesson materials based on Swiss maths schemes. The project has been running for five years and has involved 20,000 children in Barking and Dagenham, Kirklees, Leeds, Rochdale and Clackmannanshire.

Author Dr Julia Whitburn, of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, said the detailed teaching materials have enabled significant improvements to be made. She added that flexibility of school starting age would also help reduce the number of low attainers.

She said: "The materials have been written by advisory teachers in Barking and Dagenham and improved year on year. Many other successful countries have very specific teaching manuals which give lesson by lesson teaching plans and advice on methods."

AS EASY AS 1,2,3

'Understanding Addition and Subtraction 2' gives suggestions for the five daily lessons.

Lessons are divided into three parts - an oral and mental starter, the main teaching activity, and a plenary session which consolidates what has been learned.

In the lesson on solving single-step word problems involving addition and subtraction, suggestions include:

* Oral and mental activity: "Call out a sum of money in pence and the children show the amount required to make pound;1. Ensure questions focus on subtraction as well as addition. Ask questions such as "If I take 30p from pound;1 how much is left?" * Teaching activity: "Write on the board: Oranges cost 80p per kilo. I pay for a kilo of oranges with a pound;1 coin. How much change do I get?

"Ask the class to solve this problem in pairs. Collect their responses and discuss their strategies. Write up some on the board."

* Plenary: "Play a follow-me game using sums of money. Cards could include: I have pound;1. I spend 64p. What is my change?"

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