Maths - Raise the numbers game

14th October 2011 at 01:00
Let's put maths in a better light

My three-year-old has just started pre-school - an award-winning pre- school led by Lizzie, a like-minded teaching soul. She asked what my subject was - maths - and shuddered, and I wondered if we might ever rewrite the script for this common response.

Let's imagine pupils and teachers having a totally different reaction, seeing maths as creative, fun and engaging. It is possible, but it's up to teachers and schools to make it happen.

Many teachers have a negative view of maths and lack the confidence to teach it, so we need to invest in them and change the way children are taught.

The Government acknowledges this and announced in its 2010 schools White Paper a commitment to improve teachers' maths skills. But teachers and schools need to be honest and begin to "own" the problem and take resposibility for raising our game.

I have been asked many times if there was a book I could recommend. There wasn't one, so I took that as a cue to write one. It was prompted by an article ridiculing David Beckham for not being able to help his six-year- old son with maths - a little harsh, I felt, as there are plenty of parents in the same predicament.

So I wrote How to do Maths so Your Children Can Too for anyone who wants to help their kids with the subject.

I highlighted new methods, terminology and teachings, and dealt with everything from mastering "number bonds" and "number lines" to dividing by "chunking", "partitioning" and using the "grid method" to multiply. Quite simple, really.

In the classroom, teachers need to be aware of the expected maths skills for all pupils in their schools. At present, this is not always the case. Teachers also need to hone their maths skills and be prepared to engage in professional development.

Battling with strategies should be over - the battle now is for hearts and minds. The task is to persuade teachers to want to become more proficient at maths. But we need to get the basics right. If we do, teachers will be more confident in the classroom and the cycle of negativity towards maths may even stop spinning.

Naomi Sani has taught for 18 years at primary and secondary level. She is a freelance consultant and author of `How To Do Maths So Your Children Can Too'

What else?

Resources

Try DaveGale's resource booklet to inspire some creativity in maths lessons using fun puzzles and tasks

On the forums

Teachers discuss ideas for inspiring (and Ofsted-friendly) maths lessons, while one teacher is looking for help with number work for Year 7. Visit the forums to share your thoughts and ideas

All forum links can be found at www.tes.co.ukresources005.

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