16th June 2000 at 01:00
100 MATHS LESSONS AND MORE. Reception - Year 6. By various authors. Scholastic pound;19.99 each

Maths schemes have been in schools since the 1970s. They were orginally used to fill gaps in teachers' subject knowledge and to support those who lacked confidence. Research and reports (Ofsted 1993) have indicated that their use has been detrimental in cases where there is an over-reliance on a particular scheme, leading to little advancement of pupils' skills or understanding. They become bored and lose enthusiasm.

100 Maths Lessons is a scheme based on the numeracy strategy. There is more scope for teachers to interact with children, and obviously less of the children "working on their own" as was typical in the traditional maths scheme.

But I envisage the same problems as before if this scheme is used exclusively - many of the lessons are repetitve and dull in content.

That said, each year is written by a different author with a varying degree of success. The books cover all year groups and indicate clearly how the learning objectives of the numeracy strategy are covered. The Year 3 book is the best of the key stage 2 texts. The reception book has some good ideas and lessons that would be interesting and successful to use.

However, I would use this scheme with caution. I advise students, in particular, to avoid falling into the trap of photocopying these lessons to save time, because in the end it will not help them to learn or understand the mathematics needed to teach primary-aged children. Neither will these books engender sufficient confidence for teaching the subject.

Patti Barber is a lecturer in primary mathematics at the Institute of Education, London University

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