Plan to cure fear of maths at school

TEACHERS SHOULD organise desks in a U-shape and sing Five Little Speckled Frogs with their five-year-olds, according to new government guidelines on how to teach maths.

More mental arithmetic and fewer calculators form the centrepiece of plans to banish the fear of maths and turn Britain into a more numerate nation.

The 117-page guidance represents the most detailed government advice ever sent to schools on maths teaching methods. From September a new daily numeracy hour will be introduced in primary schools.

Even the arrangement of the furniture is important, the document suggests. It proposes placing desks in a U-shape with the weakest children sitting in the centre of the U.

The guidelines suggest that four and five-year-olds in reception classes might sing Five Little Speckled Frogs before counting frogs and lily pads in the sand and water trays.

Yesterday's document says teachers should spend the first five or 10 minutes of the numeracy hour on oral work and mental arithmetic, the next 30 or 40 minutes on a new topic or practising an old one, and the last 10 to 15 minutes summing up to the whole class.

During the mental arithmetic sessions pupils might play a number game in which they are asked to give examples of a number one less than a multiple of five, or a calculation with the answer 12.

Pupils should have the mental arithmetic skills to work out different ways of answering questions such as 81 minus 26 or 5 per cent of pounds 3000.

Calculators, the document says, should not normally be used for under- eights but older children should be taught how best to use these "powerful and efficient tools".

The guidelines advise teachers to spend as much time as possible teaching and questioning the whole class instead of dividing them into groups.

Mr Blunkett told a London conference yesterday: "Too many people in Britain say with almost a badge of pride that they never did understand maths properly. Yet it is essential in everyday life and to the life of our economy. Dealing with figures should be just as important as the ability to read, yet maths is sometimes the poor relation. We want to promote a `can-do' attitude towards maths across the community."

Tony Blair announced that next year will be Maths Year 2000, and Carol Vorderman, the mental arithmetic expert from Channel 4's Countdown programme has agreed to give the initiative her backing.

Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said that "in principle the maths hour represents sound educational practice" but warned against over prescription.

"Schools already succeeding should not be compelled to turn their maths teaching upside-down to accommodate the bureaucrats at the Department for Education and Employment who, once again, appear to be rampaging out of control."

Counting on Brain Power

Mental arithmetic strategies for 11-year-olds:

Use related facts and doubling:

t double 176 = 352 (200 + 140 + 12)

Explain how to find sixths and twelfths by halving thirds:

t one-twelfth of 300 is 25.

(one-third of 300 is 100, half is 50, half again is 25)

Continue to multiply a two-digit number by a single-digit number, multiplying the tens first:

t 86 x 7 = (80 x 7) + (6 x 7)

= 560 + 42

= 602

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?