Low skills leave young people at risk of unemployment, says maths mastery training specialist

The new managing director of leading Singapore Maths mastery publisher and maths mastery training specialist Maths – No Problem! has warned that sub-standard maths skills among young people are leaving them unemployable.

Singapore has become a “laboratory of maths teaching.” Photo credit: Flickr 

Martin Casimir, who joins Maths – No Problem! from Harry Potter publisher Bloomsbury, said tackling low level and numeracy among children  was crucial to prepare the next generation of workers.

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He said: “Encouraging take-up of mastery maths – the highly successful teaching method developed in Singapore – is part of our mission to transform thousands of young lives. A succession of reports, from MPs, the Education and Training Foundation and the OECD, have revealed shocking findings about our young people’s maths skills. In a global economy with increasing automation, there simply won’t be jobs for those who aren’t confident in maths.”

A survey carried out by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (the OECD) in October 2013—based on interviews with 166,000 people in 24 countries— found that England and Northern Ireland was ranked 22nd for literacy and 21st for numeracy. This low level of adult skills inevitably impacts on the success of the economy especially for those trapped in a cycle of either low skilled or unemployment.  

Singapore has become a “laboratory of maths teaching” by incorporating established international research into a highly effective teaching approach with an emphasis on teaching pupils to solve problems without the need for rote learning, meaning that and pupils learn to think mathematically rather than reciting formulas they do not understand.

It takes a slightly different mathematical approach as it revolves around several key number and sense strategies, such as: (1) building number sense through part whole thinking, (2) understanding place value, and (3) breaking numbers into decomposed parts or friendlier numbers, ones that are easier to work with in the four operations  (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division).  

Casimir continued: ‘Working in partnership with primary school teachers, as we do, is the way to break the cycle of under-achievement in maths. If we turn youngsters into maths enthusiasts right at the start of their education, they carry this into secondary school and beyond.

Maths – No Problem! introduced the Singapore Maths mastery approach to Britain seven years ago. Since then it has trained thousands of teachers and helped hundreds of institutions, from small village schools to large academy chains. 

The successful method has received support of the government, which recently announced funding of £41m over four years to support teaching maths for mastery in 8,000 primary schools in England. 

According to research on English Primary Teachers carried out by Schoolzone in October 2015, 72 per cent of teachers using Maths —No Problem! said they felt reasonably or very confident teaching maths using a mastery approach, compared to only 30 per cent of primary school teachers surveyed in England.

“And we know that our approach really does work. An evaluation of Singapore-style textbooks by the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics reported positive impact on children’s attitude to learning mathematics (91 per cent) and on their attainment (90 per cent) along with increased teacher subject knowledge (93 per cent) and confidence (91 per cent) in teaching maths”,  added Casimir.



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