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Recall is key in numeracy project

The front-page article by Nicholas Pyke (TES, March 28) states that, according to some critics, the National Numeracy Project shies away from demanding instant recall of times-tables and number bonds and that it backs a differentiated approach to children's learning. The anonymity of the critics is probably just as well, since they are completely wrong on both counts.

The Project's Framework for Numeracy is now being used in more than 200 schools in 12 LEAs. It sets out for each year of primary schooling the programme to be taught to the whole class. The programme is specifically designed to raise teachers' expectations of the large middle-ability band of pupils and to ensure good progression from one year to the next. It demands a significant increase in the proportion of time that teachers spend on direct instruction and high-quality questioning, and requires whole-class teaching techniques that keep children involved, interested and learning with understanding.

Far from shying away from instant recall of number facts, the framework devotes eight pages to spelling out for each year the number facts that every pupil is expected to know by heart. Teachers are advised about the variety of ways in which children can be helped to remember facts and recall them rapidly, and how to use facts that they know by heart to derive new facts. The numeracy tests developed for the project include, for each year group, orally administered questions on mental arithmetic in which each pupil's instant recall of basic number facts is assessed.

Perhaps the critics to whom Nicholas Pyke refers would like to visit the national centre to become better informed than they are at present about the project's work?

ANITA STRAKER Director, National Numeracy Project National Centre London House 59-65 London Street Reading Berkshire

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