A new report by schools watchdog Ofsted has outlined what it says are the best practices used by primary teachers in mathematics.
Good Practice in Primary Mathematics: Evidence from 20 Successful Schools was published yesterday (November 13th) and highlights the fundamental importance of providing a sound understanding of maths at primary school level.
Undertaken during the current national curriculum review, Ofsted’s report could be significant in laying foundations for the future of maths teaching, with particular methods outlined for teaching multiplication and division that are not currently prescribed by the curriculum.
Having assessed the way arithmetic is taught at 20 leading schools, the study claims to identify which approaches work most effectively in equipping young children with the necessary skills and knowledge to achieve in mathematics.
Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector Miriam Rosen said: "Just as a child cannot hope to succeed without the basic standards in reading, basic mathematics is an essential prerequisite for a decent education.
"This report looks in detail at what works best in teaching young children about numbers."
Practical maths activities and problems were found to be the most helpful in fostering a deep understanding in children aged three to seven-years-old, key to laying the foundations on which later success in the subject can be built.
One such successful problem cited by Ofsted involved pupils measuring their school playground before calculating an estimate to lay tarmac over the surface.
The study states that a fluency in mental arithmetic and a sound grasp of multiplication tables are essential for children developing skills in adding and subtracting.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, those pupils who learned flexible approaches to maths problems were also able to solve the widest range of problems.
Commenting on the report’s findings, Ms Rosen said that a thorough grasp of mathematics is essential for children in the future, both in everyday life, higher education and employment.
"The examples here provide a valuable tool for all primary schools in England – I hope they will take the opportunity to learn from the best practice available," she added.
Meanwhile, the Department for Education announced the launch of a consultation into early years teaching on Friday (November 11th).