Primary school teachers' efforts to improve their pupils' maths skills could be being hindered by parents' inability to help their children with this work, a new survey has indicated.
In recent years, primary teachers have taught children maths using methods such as 'gridding' and 'chunking', whereby they broke sums down into several smaller equations in order to calculate the final answer.
Ministers have subsequently decided to reintroduce traditional methods of calculation in schools due to concerns these newer techniques were overly complicated and time consuming.
Now a new poll of over 2,000 parents commissioned by educational publisher Pearson has revealed that changes in systems of working out have made it harder for parents to assist their children with maths homework.
It found that 65 per cent were concerned that they might confuse their child due to the different ways they have been taught to solve equations, while 53 per cent conceded that they did not understand the new methods used to teach maths.
Another 30 per cent said they were not confident enough in their own maths skills to help their children with homework on this topic.
Furthermore, when asked to sit a test of ten questions aimed at children aged between eight and 12, respondents struggled, with only five per cent getting all of the correct answers, whereas a quarter could only get four out of ten or less.
While 61 per cent of parents were able to answer a fractions question aimed at eight and nine-year-olds, only 27 per cent could solve a two-bracket maths problem for 11 and 12-year-olds.
Commenting on these findings, Carol Vordeman - the television presenter currently carrying out a review of maths teaching for the Conservative party - remarked: "Studies have shown that if parents help their children with homework they are more likely to succeed at school.
"It is therefore worrying that so many parents lack confidence in their own maths skills. It's imperative that children are given the opportunity to learn maths in a way that is fun, accessible and engaging, both at home and in the classroom."
This echoes the results of the government's '2011 Skills for Life' survey, which found that 49 per cent of English adults had no more than primary school-level competency in maths, while seven per cent did not possess the level of maths skills expected of an eight-year-old.
Posted by Charlotte Michaels