Science and maths teachers need more help from policy-makers to help tackle underachievement in the subjects, according to two reports published by the European Commission yesterday (November 16th).
England is one of only five European countries to have set national targets aimed at boosting levels of achievement in maths, though most EU states offer general guidelines which address difficulties faced by mathematics pupils.
The report into science, meanwhile, revealed that no member states have generated specific policies designed to support low achievers in the core subject.
Both reports conclude that while a lot has been done to update curricula in science and mathematics, the support offered to teachers responsible for implementing these changes needs to be improved.
Androulla Vassiliou, European commissioner for education, culture, multilingualism and youth, said: "It's time to step up our efforts to support the teaching profession and to help children who are struggling at school.
"Europe needs to improve its educational performance.
"Both mathematics and science play a crucial role in modern curricula in meeting not only the needs of the labour market, but also for developing active citizenship, social inclusion and personal fulfillment."
Concerns surrounding the levels of achievement in these subjects let European ministers to adopt an EU-wide standard benchmark in 2009.
This set countries the target of reducing the proportion of 15-year-olds with 'insufficient abilities' in maths, science and reading to less than 15 per cent – of those member states with comparable data, Finland, Estonia and the Netherlands are performing the best.
The studies outlined the need to continue providing support to teachers through continued training and guidance in teaching diverse groups of students.
The challenge that remains, however, is providing the necessary support to teachers, which calls for continuing training. In addition, support and guidance for teaching diverse groups of students need to be strengthened.
The studies were compiled by the Eurydice network, which is made up of 37 national units based in the 33 countries that are involved in the EU's Lifelong Learning Programme.
Posted by Harriet McGowan