Diane Hofkins sums up the national teaching programme
From September every primary teacher will be expected to conduct a daily maths lesson, with a new emphasis on mental calculation and on whole-class teaching. The teaching framework for the Government's national numeracy strategy is on its way to schools, and in-service training packs will follow in the summer term.
Although not strictly mandatory, the structured daily lessons of 45 to 60 minutes are central to the Government's pledge to bring 75 per cent of 11-year-olds up to the expected standard in maths (level 4) by 2002. Schools will also be under pressure to implement the policy in order to meet their own tough numeracy targets, which are to be agreed with local authorities. Primary league tables published last month showed that only 59 per cent of children had reached the target in 1998. However, there was evidence that schools taking part in the numeracy strategy pilot made significant progress in both English and maths.
The official framework differs from earlier drafts, which have been seen by half of all primary schools, in that it covers the entire maths national curriculum, not just arithmetic. Providing a preview of the maths curriculum for 2000, the strategy brings in multiplication tables earlier - they should all be learned by Year 5 rather than Y6 - and defers conventional vertical sums until Y4.
This approach is intended to leave children free to work out answers to number sentences such as 28+32= in different ways. The focus of number work until Y3 is to be a structured approach to mental calculation. Children in the early years should use a horizontal format for writing down calculations, the document explains.
It states that mental calculation skills include:
* Remembering number facts and recalling them without hesitation.
* Using the facts that are known by heart to figure out new facts.
* Using the relationships between the "four rules" to work out answers and check results.
* Drawing on a repertoire of mental strategies.
It says: "For each operation, at least one standard written method should be taught in the later primary years but the progression towards these methods is crucial, since they are based on steps which are done mentally and which need to be secured first."
The new framework, which sets out a term-by-term teaching programme, includes some work on ratio and proportion, absent from the original national curriculum, and less on probability. There are sections on laying the foundations for algebra, on links with other subjects, on using information and communication technology and on homework. Advice on special needs, gifted pupils and mixed-age classes is also given.
For Reception classes, the framework is meant to help work toward the Government's Early Learning Goals, which are currently out for consultation (see above), and it offers suggestions for play activities.
The numeracy strategy increases the pressure on primary teachers by bringing in a second structured daily lesson fast on the heels of the literacy hour, introduced in September 1998. However, schools which are already doing both have found that some of the methodology - such as interactive whole-class teaching - carries across from one to the other. Anita Straker, director of the NNS, says: "I am not trying to pretend that it will be easy for schools, but it may not be as difficult as they think."
Training for teachers will include a chance to observe whole numeracy lessons. Three members of staff from every primary school will have three days' training in the summer term, with a day for a governor. Participants on these courses will see four complete lessons, including one from a special school. Working with parents will also be a key component.
Schools are then expected to spend three in-service days on maths, beginning in the summer term, supported by distance learning materials.
As with the literacy strategy, regional consultants are being appointed to help schools, and schools doing poorly in maths (15 per cent of the total) will have intensive support.
Within the next few weeks, all primaries should receive the first set of materials: Framework for Teaching Mathematics from R to Y6; Mathematical Vocabulary and a CD of vocabulary to make flash cards.
KEY OBJECTIVES INCLUDE:
* Count reliably up to 10 everyday objects.
* Recognise numerals 1 to 9.
* Use words such as "circle""bigger" to describe shapesize.
* Within the range 0 to 30, say the number that is 1 or 10 more or less than any given number.
* Know by heart all pairs of numbers with a total of 10.
* Use mental strategies to solve simple problems using counting, addition, subtraction, doubling and halving.
* Understand that subtraction is the inverse of addition.
* Know by heart all addition and subtraction facts for each number to at least 10.
* Know and use halving as the inverse of doubling.
* Know by heart facts for the 2 and 10 multiplication tables.
* Know by heart all addition and subtraction facts for each number to 20.
* Know by heart facts for the 2, 5 and 10 multiplication tables.
* Understand division and recognise it is the inverse of multiplication.
* Use known number facts and place value to add or subtract mentally.
* Know by heart facts for the 2, 3, 4, 5 and 10 times tables.
* Derive quickly division facts corresponding to those tables.
* Use decimal notation for tenths and hundredths.
* Calculate mentally a difference such as 8006-2993.
* Carry out column addition and subtraction of number less than 10,000.
* Know by heart all multiplication facts up to 10 x 10.
* Find simple percentages.
* Solve simple problems involving ratio and proportion.
* Derive quickly division facts corresponding to multiplication tables up to 10 x 10.