Numeracy drive is not a 'failure'

16th May 2003 at 01:00
As former director of the numeracy strategy, I read your front-page story claiming it was "a pound;400m failure", (TES, May 9) with amazement and amusement.

The King's College researchers themselves described the 1,291 pupils that they tested, a 0.2 per cent sample, as "technically neither random or proportionately representative". Your interpretation of the findings as exactly the opposite shows how much the strategy is needed!

The research concluded that there was a statistically significant improvement in the attainment of nine-year-olds, who were on average two months ahead of where they had been three years previously, a 1.8 per cent gain.

To put this achievement in perspective, think of it like this. Had the height of the 750,000 nine-year-olds in England spurted by 1.8 per cent over three years so that they were on average an inch taller, would you brand this as "a failure"? Or would you be asking what had produced this extraordinary and unprecedented gain over a relatively short time?

The success of the national numeracy strategy cannot be judged by a limited test of a tiny and unrepresentative sample of pupils in one year group.

Instead, you should canvass the countless teachers who have worked so hard to achieve significant gains and who have been overwhelmingly positive about the strategy.

Anita Straker Mundays, St Mary Bourne Andover, Hampshire Briefing, 34

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