Competency in mathematics

14th December 2007 at 00:00
I am disappointed that no one from The TESS contacted the University of Dundee about the actual findings of the research recently carried out into Scottish student primary teachers' competence and confidence to teach mathematics (November 30).

This study looked at student primary teachers at entry level to the undergraduate programme, yet the first paragraph of your report suggests that two-thirds of all student primary teachers lack competence.

I am one of the authors of this report, to be published in the Journal of Education for Teaching in the new year, and it is very frustrating that such a negative slant has been put on research which is seeking to raise a number of important issues.

One of those is the suitability of minimum entrance qualifications for primary education programmes. The results, from a first-year intake drawn from all over Scotland, suggest that Standard grade and Intermediate 2 mathematics cannot guarantee basic competence in numeracy. It was also found that confidence levels are low in students possessing these qualifications.

Our research seeks to suggest a number of ways forward in this important debate and not simply that of a full test prior to registration, as stated in your piece.

Omitting such important details changes the focus of the research considerably.

Sheila Henderson, teaching fellow in mathematics education, University of Dundee.

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