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Maths hour still not universal

The strategies for numeracy and literacy have the overwhelming support of primary headteachers, says a new survey. Sarah Cassidy reports

FIFTEEN per cent of primary schools have not introduced a daily numeracy hour for all pupils, an official survey of headteachers has revealed.

Primaries have been expected to provide a structured daily maths lesson of at least 45 minutes for all pupils since September as part of the National Numeracy Strategy. But only 85 per cent of schools have done so, new research into headteachers' attitudes to the literacy and numeracy strategies has found.

However, almost half (45 per cent) of headteachers said their school was teaching mathematics beyond the daily lesson, according to the poll of more than 1,000 heads.

More than six out of 10 (61 per cent) headteachers thought that the daily mathematics lesson had squeezed time for other subjects, the survey by CfBT Education Services, which provides support for both the numeracy and literacy strategies, found.

The survey showed that primary heads are increasingly supportive of the National Literacy Strategy: 95 per cent told pollsters they supported the literacy strategy compared to 89 per cent last year and 99 per cent said they supported the numeracy strategy.

But one quarter of heads believe the literacy strategy has had a negative impact on pupils with special educaional needs while 13 per cent felt that pupils for whom English is a second language had also suffered.

Almost half (45 per cent) the respondents thought that the literacy strategy had given pupils greater access to the rest of the curriculum. However, almost a quarter (23 per cent) thought it had restricted pupil access while the remaining third (30 per cent) thought it had made no difference.

There was also a mixed response as to whether the literacy strategy was closing the gap in achievement between boys and girls. Almost equal numbers of headteachers thought that it was helping to close the gap (39 per cent) as thought it was of no help (41 per cent), while the remaining fifth did not know.

Heads said that both strategies could be improved by allowing teachers more time out of the classroom to plan lessons.

John Stannard, director of the National Literacy Strategy, said: "Headteachers confirm that the strategy is now firmly embedded, and is improving pupils' progress and the quality of literacy teaching."

Anita Straker, director of the National Numeracy Strategy, said: "This survey shows that the numeracy strategy has made a very positive start. Schools are well positioned to tackle the major challenges that lie ahead - strengthening teachers' knowledge of mathematics and helping them to teach the main part of the daily maths lesson."

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