Numeracy 'not without cost'

Geraldine Hackett

HEADTEACHERS have welcomed the National Numeracy Strategy, despite reservations over workload and the impact it has had on other subjects.

A survey by the National Association of Head Teachers suggests all schools have added a daily maths lesson to the timetable in addition to the literacy hour. However, more than 80 per cent of schools report they are spending far less time on the humanities, art and physical education.

According to David Hart, the union's general secretary, primary schools are no longer providing a balanced curriculum. "The strategy has been a success, but not without cost. Workload has been excessive. A broad curriculum has gone out of the window. Government needs to remedy these defects urgently if the gains in standards made by the strategy are to continue, he says.

Maths scores for 11-year-olds have gone up 13 percentage points over the past two years. The numeracy strategy was fully introduced last year, but many schools began using the materials 12 months ahead of schedule.

The survey confirms that teachers believe children enjoy maths more and the strategy has improved their own maths skills. Schools are introducing more setting and streaming for the maths lesson.

However, the combination of the English and maths strategy has led to much more work. Teachers say they are exhausted, stressed and under considerable pressure.

Almost a quarter of the 1,432 teachers in the survey reported that the strategy had had a negative impact on morale. The survey was carried out last term.

Maths for arts students, 11

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Geraldine Hackett

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