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REPORT ON STAFFING LEVELS REVEALS THAT MATHEMATICS IS A SUBJECT IN CRISIS

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Commenting on Adrian Smith's report 'Making mathematics count'*, Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the National Uni...
Commenting on Adrian Smith's report 'Making mathematics count'*, Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: 'Professor Smith is right to describe the shortage of mathematics teachers as a crisis.

'The enormous pressures placed on teachers by this government combined with highly competitive salaries outside teaching are driving our mathematics graduates away from teaching.

'Professor Smith's study is limited to maths but similar studies could be carried out for a long list of shortage subjects including science, information technology, foreign languages, religious education and more. He rightly identifies inadequate pay as part of the problem. To address the wider issue of shortages, the pay of all teachers needs a substantial boost to make it competitive with those occupations outside teaching also recruiting graduates.

'It is the poisonous combinations of excessive workload, deteriorating pupil behaviour, lack of professional freedom and depressed salary levels generally which have created shortage subjects, and not just in mathematics.

'Solve these problems and the crisis in mathematics teacher numbers will be solved also.

'The disaster of the AS level has led to too much of the time available for teaching being taken up by assessment thereby discouraging young people from carrying on with mathematics.

'I believe Professor Smith has underestimated the high quality of teaching of numeracy in primary schools. All the international evidence shows that such teaching is having a highly positive effect.'

* Available here.

MATHS REPORT: RESPONSE OF SCHOOL MINISTER(DfES)

MATHS REPORT IS THE RIGHT WAY FORWARD SAYS NAHT

National As sociation of Head Teachers general secretary David Hart said:

'Today's report on maths education is the right way forward. Radical action needs to be taken to halt the decline in mathematics and to start to restore it to the crucial position it held some years ago.

'Smith fits well with Tomlinson, though it also seeks to encourage the more able students not only to take maths at 'A' Level, but to achieve high levels of attainment for university entrance.

'In one important respect, Professor Smith does not go far enough. If the government continues to require 5 or more A* to C subjects at GCSE as a key performance indicator, then there is a strong case for insisting that 2 of these subjects be English and maths.

'It seems quite extraordinary that English and maths are compulsory performance elements at 11 and at 14, but disappear at 16.'

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