Friday, 7 December 2007

Pupils learn nothing in Maths in first three years at high school

I found this report in the Daily Mail very interesting. Whenever past pupils come back into school to visit, one question I often ask is, "How do you find the Maths lessons?" The response is usually, "Easy." Just why is it that so many pupils leave primary school with a Level 5 and then go up to high school and study work below that level?

According to the report, pupils make virtually no progress in maths during their first three years at comprehensive school, a devastating study revealed yesterday. Several hours of lessons every week have barely any impact on the maths skills of 11 to 14-year-olds. Hundreds of 14-year-olds given independent tests were only slightly better at maths than students three years younger.

The researchers, from Manchester University, said the findings were so serious that ministers should conduct their own investigation 'as a matter of urgency'. They said their conclusions cast doubt on the validity of results in Government tests for 14-year-olds, which appear to show faster progress. They suggested pupils were being "artificially pumped up" to pass national tests instead of gaining a proper understanding of maths. The academics who worked on the study believe lessons at secondary school may be too easy, so pupils become bored.

In contrast to the three-year standstill, pupils made consistent progress during their years at primary school, although gains in the run-up to national tests at 11 were lost during the first year at secondary school.

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