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Maths 'bridging' unit to ease path to secondary

THE LAST weeks of the summer term are often seen as a time to relax for primary pupils and their teachers. But from this summer 11-year-olds who finish their national tests may find that the hard work is just beginning.

Curriculum advisers hope to bridge the divide between primary and secondary maths with a new teaching programme for use in both.

The four-week programme will begin in pupils' last two weeks of primary school and be completed in their first fortnight of secondary education.

Officials at the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority have devised new maths units in the topics which 11-year-olds find most difficult - algebra and the link between fractions, decimals and percentages.

They hope the new units will help address ministers' concerns that pupils often fall behind when they start secondary school.

Not only will the units improve curriculum continuity, they also aim to help pupils remain motivated after their key stage 2 national tests and feel confident that their maths skills will be recognised at secondary school.

They will also give secondary teachers information about the standards primary pupils have achieved and help them set appropriately challenging work.

Lynn Churchman, QCA mathematics officer, hopes teachers in partner primary and secondary schools will treat the materials as a focus for joint planning.

She said: "The evaluation of our pilot with around 130 schools in 12 LEAs showed that children were really excited about doing work which looked forward to secondary school and thought it was a useful way of using the couple of weeks after their national tests.

"Year 7 children found it comforting to do familiar topics in their first weeks of secondary school."

All the lessons are based on the three-part lesson model promoted by the National Numeracy Strategy - whole-class oral work, followed by group activities and finishing with another whole-class session. They have been trialled and developed in a range of schools in a variety of education authorities.

A QCA spokesman said: "Current research suggests that there is effective continuity in pastoral matters but a pronounced dip in performance as pupils transfer from primary to secondary school, and that pupils do not make enough progress in the early part of key stage 3.

"The purpose of the "Bridging units in mathematics" is to help schools and LEAs raise standards in mathematics by improving curricular continuity and progression between Year 6 and 7 and thus throughout key stage 3 and key stage 4."

The two bridging unit packs "Linking fractions, decimals and percentages"; and "Algebra: introducing symbols" are available from QCA publications on 01787 884444 price pound;18 each.

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