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Top of the league for calculators

Between 68 per cent and 73 per cent of teachers allowed almost all pupils access to calculators in maths lessons, higher than in any of the 26 participating countries in the Third International Maths and Science Study (right).

There were on average nearly 12 computers available to teachers and pupils, considerably above the norm in other countries.

Schools allowed between 240 and 260 minutes a week for maths which was above average. Between 79 per cent and 85 per cent of teachers always divided their classes into groups, a much higher figure than in other countries. But 34 per cent to 36 per cent of teachers said that having pupils of different academic ability limited their teaching a great deal, a higher figure than in all but two or three other countries.

One paradox which emerges in the science findings shows that, while pupil performance bore up against international comparisons, the amount of time devoted to teaching the subject was less than in most other countries: between 59 minutes and 71 minutes a week in primary 4 and 67 minutes to 78 minutes a week in primary 5.

The 60 per cent of teachers who said science lessons were limited by having pupils with different academic abilities was much higher than in maths but around the international average.

Results in both subjects do not appear to have been affected by lack of pupil motivation: 84 per cent to 86 per cent of pupils said they liked maths and more than 80 per cent were keen on science.

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