Strategy will have long-term benefit

16th May 2003 at 01:00
The numeracy strategy should not be deemed a failure because it has made "little difference to pupil attainment". In fact I believe it to be one of the two most successful innovations of recent years (the other being the foundation stage curriculum).

Previously, children learned maths almost by rote, many found it incomprehensible and through life were not ashamed to admit, "Oh, I could never do maths." This strategy has broadened understanding and confidence.

It may not take curriculum coverage further, but it strengthens what is learned.

During my primary inspections I ask the pupils what is their favourite subject. Before the strategy perhaps one in 10 would choose maths. Now it is the majority (boys and girls).

I will never forget watching the plenary of a Year 2 numeracy lesson when a boy from the lowest-attaining group called out, "I got that - in a different way!" If it had been a cartoon, a light bulb would have appeared over his head. In the old system he would have almost certainly ended up a maths failure. Now perhaps he won't.

It is this solid understanding of mathematics which gives hope for the future in ways that any short-term assessment is unable to foretell.

Clive Whittington 6 The Granary WynyardBillingham Cleveland

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