Maths goes on message

11th May 2001 at 01:00
It was, of course, just coincidence, wasn't it? A bullish report on how youngsters are doing in maths appears on the day that the Prime Minister announced a general election and said it should be fought on issues like education and health. The Inspectorate is independent of politicians, especially now it is an arm's-length agency, and Scottish education is not even an issue in an election for the Westminster Parliament.

Still, Scottish Labour MPs seeking re-election will be as pleased as the Education Minister that evidence of progress in primary schools is at last coming to the fore. HMI attributes the rise in attainment at P1-P4 to a variety of reasons difficult to unpick. Early intervention schemes and the appointment of classroom assistants are initiatives since the 1997 election. A reassertion of whole-class direct teaching aimed at embedding basic maths and instilling problem-solving skills goes back earlier and is unconnected wth political imperatives. Teachers have been happy to emphasise fundamental concepts, with the encouragement of the inspectorate and helped by a modicum of extra resources.

The application of commonsense strategies in the classroom is the key to bridging the gap between maths attainment here and that of many European and Far Eastern countries. A sound grasp in the early years promises improvement later on, though it is between P7 and S2 that the greatest challenge remains. Maybe an upbeat HMI report will appear on the eve of the election in 2005-2006.

The nuts and bolts of public services in Scotland are not part of the UK election campaign, though it is hard to see politicians avoiding taking credit and scoring points when the opportunity arises. But the debate between investment in services and the individual's freedom to spend their own money is as relevant in the three countries with devolved powers as in England.


Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now