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Maths teachers 'support for funding for mastery-based teaching'

15/12/2016 Joanna

Maths teachers in the UK are keen for the government to introduce new funding to help them introduce mastery-based teaching methods akin to those used by schools in Singapore.

A survey of 360 maths teachers in the UK has been carried out by maths mastery training specialist Maths - No Problem, revealing that 90 per cent of respondents that present funding is insufficient to allow teachers to be trained in the mastery method, despite many government ministers expressing support for it, reports the Daily Telegraph.

The mastery approach is used in many areas of Asia including Singapore and Shanghai, and involves providing children with a deep understanding of a concept before moving on. Building on theories developed at Oxford University in the 1970s by developmental psychologist Jerome Bruner on how the brain assimilates new ideas, it de-emphasises rote learning in favour of helping children how to think mathematically.

This technique is utilised by many of the top-performing nations in the world in terms of mathematics, and nearly 80 per cent of teachers polled in the new study are keen for the Department for Education to provide them with more information about the mastery method.

Currently, a lack of understanding of maths mastery remains a key barrier to wider adoption, with more than 49 per cent of teachers citing a lack of confidence in their own ability to teach maths as a problem.

Action may be needed on this front after the recent PISA global education report by the OECD revealed that the UK is now number 27 on the world rankings for maths, down one place from 2012.

Martin Casimir, managing director of Maths - No Problem, said: "The PISA results show that 22 per cent of our 15-year-olds did not reach level 2 in maths, which means that they are unable to solve problems routinely faced by adults in their daily lives.

"We need to build the foundations in primary school. In a global economy with increasing automation, there simply won't be jobs for those who aren’t confident in maths."

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