Back to basics – what schools should focus on in September

Back to basics – what schools should focus on in September

Primary school children should be taught basic numeracy and literacy when schools resume in September.

The lockdown inevitably means many children will be behind, and knowing these basic building blocks is vital.

Even for those who are on top of the subjects, a refresher term is no bad thing because numeracy and literacy are so important.

One of the main problems faced by teachers in secondary schools is teaching students who arrive from primary schools without this basic knowledge.

When secondary school teachers help those students catch up it means that others in the class will be affected.

It is also difficult to do because, in secondary schools, children are taught by different teachers for each subject.

Primary numeracy should focus on times tables, the four rules of number (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division), decimals, fractions and basic percentages.

Primary literacy should focus on basic grammar, punctuation, syntax, comprehension and spelling skills – and encouraging children to read widely.

These are core skills children will need at secondary level and next term should focus on them as much as possible.

This might all sound rather obvious, but the basics are often subsumed by progressive approaches that focus on classroom activities rather than the structured teaching of basic skills.

Drilling these subjects into primary school students or those in their first term of secondary school will be of benefit to them for the rest of their lives.

Many children will have had almost six months without schooling, and as teachers know even over the six week summer holiday students can forget a great deal.

It is unfair for schools to expect parents to have ensured their children have been correctly versed in these subjects. They are not professional teachers and children are far less likely to listen to parents.

The humanities depend on literacy and technical and science subjects on numeracy.

So numeracy and literacy are the foundations of all learning, without which all other subject areas will suffer.