Issues Associated with the Teaching of Mathematics

Richard Evans is concerned about the quality of new maths teachers. A recent feature in the Observer (1) highlighted some of the consequences of the current recession namely the migration of people from the private sector in areas such as banking, IT, PR executives and journalism into teaching. 13,500 career changers have applied for teacher training programmes – this represents a 35% increase over the past year. Coupled with more applications from graduates this has made entering teaching a more competitive activity. So how does this increased flow of teachers align with the impending massive cuts in the public services?

Skills for the Future (part2)

Read: Skills for the Future (part 1) Dick Evans continues his consideration of skills required forthe future UK economy In Part 1 I briefly explored some of the current issues associated with skills gaps and shortages and the failure by this and previous governments to tackle and resolve these long-term problems. In this piece I want to address the problem of innumeracy and low maths skills in the population and possible solutions to the problem. I, along with many other committed and enthusiastic individuals and organisations, have highlighted some of the factors involved in perpetuating low mathematical skills amongst the

Skills for the Future (part1)

Dick Evans is worried about how we plan provision of education to meet future skills needs Introduction, background and scene setting This is the first part of a two part piece on skills in which I will attempt to provide the background for this important topic. I will describe the factors in play across the skills spectrum and the way the government is tackling the problem of persistent skills shortages and gaps including the continuing levels of poor numeracy in the adult population. Skills still seem to be a top priority for the government, but are the strategies and policies

Writing for Toffee?

Richard Evans is concerned about the decline in writing skills. Last September a number of daily papers (e.g. The Independent 6/09/08) ran reports on a study by exam boards and assessors/markers on the ability of candidates sitting GCSE and ‘A’ levels examinations to write their answers in longhand. According to the report, the number of requests from candidates for ‘scribes’ in examinations had increased from 28,324 in 2005 to 40,215 in 2007. The figures relate to the total number of requests for ‘scribes’ and clearly a particular candidate might require help for more than one subject. However it was unlikely

Reading Skills and ICT

Richard Evans returns to his soap box on the issue of computers and their possibly negative impact on education A recent BBC World Service programme presented by Michael Rosen raised a number of interesting issues regarding the impact of the declining use of narration in popular films on reading skills. An American film critic on the programme voiced his concerns about Hollywood productions which were increasingly superficial and undemanding on the audience. Too often, the films were formulaic in character e.g. car chases, explosions, sex and special effects with predictable and superficial story lines and plots. The audience were primarily

Teacher Shortages Revisited

Richard Evans returns to his theme of teacher shortages and what can be done It’s been said before but here is my take on the current situation. It’s a case of good and bad news. First the good news: the government seems to have recognised the long standing crisis associated with the supply of teachers in mathematics and numeracy both in terms of quantity and quality. The bad news is that there is continuing difficulty in significantly increasing the flow of qualified teachers let alone retaining the stock of both new and experienced teachers. To highlight the paucity of thinking

Financial Literacy –a Personal View

Dick Evans asks questions about financial literacy as a separate subject. Concerns about financial literacy, capability and awareness continue to be very prominent. Numeracy Briefing has carried a series of highly informative articles on the topic. In spite of all the existing initiatives and key organisations involved in addressing this important topic the government has appointed yet another person who has come up with set of proposals to tackle this problem. Obviously there are concerns about the credit crunch and a personal debt level in the UK of £1.2 trillion (50% on mortgages and 50% on pension funds, corporate, credit

Gender and Mathematics.

Dick Evans explores the impact of gender difference on mathematical performance. Whilst writing the articles on ‘Mathematics – Why the problem’! (Numeracy Briefing issues 9 and 10) I became aware that the interacting factors that created the negative view of the subject could reflect the widely-held perception that females perform less well than the males. This view has generated a popular stereotype that the women and girls are not good at the maths. Research. A considerable amount of research has been carried out in this area from analysis of basic international statistics on numbers of females and males studying mathematics

Mathematics – What’s the Problem?

Richard Evans continues his exploration of the reasons behind negative attitudes to maths in the UK Since writing the last article (Numeracy Briefing Issue 9) on the possible factors that could contribute to the reluctance by many people to study mathematics and other mathematically-related subjects, I have reflected more on the potential interplay of the factors identified in that article. Perhaps it is too simplistic just to view the negative perception towards the subject in terms of a series of causes and effects. If the problem is about the formation of negative attitudes towards the subject then this must be

Functional Mathematics – A Context?

Richard Evans is concerned that functional maths is being distorted by a plethora of other developments Any discussion of functional mathematics must now be informed by the recent White Paper “Raising Skills, Improving Life Chances”, The Leitch Report and the reforms associated with the development of specialised diplomas and the Framework for Achievement (FfA). Specialised Diplomas. The development of the specialised diplomas highlights the current chaotic state in government thinking with a ridiculously early deadline being set for the introduction of the first five pilot programmes next year. Critical elements of the proposed framework are still unclear and/or are still