Views & Opinio n The pro roblemwithmaths and
why teachers need time to look beyond the curriculum
Comment by JOAN DESLA School, Beckton
Headteacher at Kingsford Community LANDESOBE,
I’m going to hit you with some statistics right from the top in this column about maths learning across the country and why we need to shake things up a bit.
One in four pupils did not achieve even the lowest pass – a grade 4 – in GCSE maths across England last summer. And a study by maths charity National Numeracy found that 49%of adults in the UK have the numeracy ability no higher than the average Year 6 pupil. Little surprise, then, that in March the University of Cambridge coined a new cond
Of course, it’s natural to look to schools and teacher believe is widespread in our country – maths anxiety.
s to solve this issue ition that they
but there’s a looming crisis there too. According to the Education Policy Institute, only 80%of placement targets for maths teachers were filled in 2018 and in London only 56%of maths teaching hours were taught by a subject specialist.
Research from the Nuffield Foundation also shows that when schools succeed in hiring experienced maths teachers they deploy them to teach year groups where the external stakes are high – that is, in GCSE, A level and GCSE retake classes.
attitudes to subjects and future study are crystall is being felt most keenly at Key Stage 3 - the ve
We really ought to have subj
That’s understandable. But it means that the shortage of maths teachers ry age young people’s ising.
bject specialists teaching children from year 1.
At the very least, I see huge benefits that will echo on throughout secondary school if there were a special maths training programme that all primary teachers experience. So many children arrive at our school into Year 7 with glowing maths SATS results because they have been coached endlessly when in fact they barely know their times tables.
Somewhere along the line, we need attitudes to change to maths so that it becomes absorbing, engaging and seemsmore relevant to children. That’s whyMathsWeek London, an initiative activities across the capital for schoolchildren, is
opportunity for maths teachers to stop and reflect, talk to their heads about their subj
bject and how it’s taught and look beyond the curriculum.
Some 500 schools across the city signed up to take part inMathsWeek London which saw those schools dedicating the week to enjoyable, creative maths events. The week also laid on a teach meet for maths teachers from different schools to swap notes on best practice as well as talks by children’s maths authors.
Organised by online learning platform Sumdog, the event couldn’t come at a better time as we battle maths anxiety and I’m delighted there are plans to repeat it in 2020. Anything that allows maths specialists to focus on the joy of the subject and go beyond the sometimes-restrictive boundaries of the curriculum is good news.We must fight against this maths malaise because if we allow it to continue, we may fail to fan the flames of a passion for maths inside our future Lovelaces, Turings and Newtons.
To sign up fo ww
forMathsWeek London 2020 visit: https://www.mathsweeklondon.org/
so important. It provides an that organises fun maths
Addressing the digital skills gap
Manchester-based coding school Comment by Andy Lord, CEOat
UK PLC will soon hit a wall, one which has the Code Nation
potential to hold our businesses back as they inevitably digitize their operations. As a report last year by The Centre for Economics and
Business Research predicted last year, the UK could potentially miss out on £21.8bn of economic benefits over the next ten years because of our digital skills gap.
This underlines the problem that we’ve been ignoring for too long - we don’t have enough people with the right digital skills. And whilst the education sector has tried, a report this year fromMicrosoft UK finds that more than half of teachers (58%) believe the current education system is failing to prepare students for a digital future.
Fewer children are getting the digital skills that everyone, from employers to the government agree are vital and whilst The Roehampton Annual Computing Education Report found that increasing numbers of schools are offering Computer Science(CS) at GCSE (52.5%) and A level (36.2%), relatively few students choose to take the subj compounding this desperate picture, girls continue to be heavily
alarmed that digital literacy is not being prioritised. From banking and And whilst these technical computer skills are essential, we are also underrepresented in the study of computer science.
2 0 www.education-today.co.uk
shopping, to communicating and managing our social lives, digital technology is central to our day to day experience.
At Code Nation, we’re trying to find achievable solutions and resolve this situation in a number of ways - we offer multiple types of coding and cyber security courses to train students to the highest standards so that they’re up-skilled and ready to enter the working world, one where hacking will increasingly become an economic threat.
There are multiple ways to learn with Code Nation; from the ‘Master: Coding’ course or via apprenticeships. Interestingly, 89%of those who graduate from Code Nation had zero to minimal skills in software development before joining a Code Nation course.
Code Nation has established relationships with businesses whose apprentices are placed into ‘on the job’ training. Placing trainees with their employer from day one and putting them through their paces in an immersive, high-impact 12-week training ‘bootcamp’ culminates in students sitting exams which are equivalent to an HND and HNC. It’s also really important to look beyond STEM. All critical thinkers can become coders, this isn’t an area just for those who are scientifically minded. It’s a sector for people with passion for creativity and collaboration; individuals who can help future proof the UK economy. This was explored in an event that we hosted last year with partners at the University of Sheffield’s AdvancedManufacturing Research Centre and LEGO®. The event helped delegates to understand a learning approach that uses LEGO® and electronics to ignite the creative and enquiring mindset common amongst most coders; a tactic synonymous with the work that Code Nation undertakes to promote tech skills. Given that pretty much every industry’s transitioned to operating in the tech sphere, we need as many people as possible to train up and get involved. Coding is a language which is becoming as intrinsic to society as spoken words. Starting the education of it as early as possible is key to our future.
July/Augus t 2019 y/
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