Michael Gove's new maths curriculum risks damaging pupils by introducing them to multiplication and division 'years too early', says report
“The new curriculum has no rationale and no precedent,” claims international primary maths expert
Richard Garner has been Education Editor of The Independent for 12 years and writing about the subject for 34 years. Before becoming a journalist, he worked as a disc jockey in London pubs and clubs and for a hospital radio station. His main hobbies are cricket (watching these days) and theatre. On his days off, he is most likelt to be found at Lord’s or the King’s Head Theatre Club.
Tuesday 07 January 2014
Education Secretary Michael Gove is wrong to suggest his new maths curriculum is based on those of high performing countries like Singapore, says a report out today.
Instead, it introduces children to division and multiplication tables at too young an age - risking damage to pupils, it argues.
The report, by primary maths adviser Rebecca Hanson - who is manager of an international discussion forum on the teaching of maths, argues that the Coalition Government’s plans for a new primary school curriculum - due to be introduced in September - should be immediately suspended.
The plans conflict with the Singapore curriculum in all the key areas of teaching the subject, her report says.
For instance, they require multiplication tables to be at the centre of the curriculum for six- to seven-year-olds, whereas the Singapore curriculum specifically excludes them at that age. The same is true for division, it adds,
On addition and subtraction, the UK plan requires six- and seven-year-olds to manipulate numbers two years before their counterparts in Singapore.
“The new curriculum has no rationale and no precedent,” said Ms Hanson. “It is unique in demanding that substantial quantities of abstract mathematics be taught to six-year-olds - something which all other curricula protect against as the damage doing so causes to the mental development of some children is well understood.
“Without proper time spent on mastering the foundation skills needed to apply the Singapore curriculum’s approach, children will struggle and fail under the new mathematics curriculum. Its implementation needs to be immediately suspended.”
A spokeswoman for the Department for Education said; "It is totally wrong to claim that the maths curriculum will damage children's learning of maths."
It was based on what happened in the world's most successful countries - including Singapore.
"The simple fact is England is lagging behind other countries in maths and we must be more ambitious," she added.
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