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New report suggests potential improvements to maths teaching methods

07/11/2017 Joanna

Teachers are being encouraged to address common misconceptions about maths as part of a new report by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) offering guidance for teaching the subject to seven to 14 year-olds.

The report, ‘Improving Maths in Key Stages Two and Three’, reviewed available research to offer schools new suggestions for "great maths teaching".

It provides recommendations in eight areas, which have all been designed to support primary and secondary schools to close the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their classmates.

The EEF said the latest research has shown that just 54 per cent of pupils who are eligible for free school meals achieved the expected standard in maths by the end of primary school, compared to 73 per cent of all other pupils.

Among the recommendations were measures to help pupils develop good maths knowledge, highlighting some areas that pupils should get to grips with, as well as some common misconceptions that they may pick up.

For example, the report advises that pupils should master basic mental arithmetic and be able to recall their times tables quickly. This is particularly important, given the fact that those who don’t may well have difficulty with more challenging maths later in school.

The report has also recommended that teachers support pupils as they make the transition from primary to secondary school, a time when attainment in maths tends to fall. It also suggested that teachers utilise physical objects and diagrams in order to boost pupils’ engagement with and understanding of new maths concepts.

Sir Kevan Collins, chief executive of the EEF, said: “The practical and evidence-based steps in our latest Guidance Report are based on the best research available. They’re designed to help schools navigate the wealth of information out there and give all their pupils - particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds - the skills they need to succeed.”

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