Are your children prepared for the potential ‘war on illiteracy and innumeracy’?

Are your children prepared for the potential ‘war on illiteracy and innumeracy’?

You may have read the Sunday Times article this weekend (a front-page commentary written by Tim Shipman and Sian Griffiths), about the ‘war on innumeracy’ that could take place over the next few years.

The article states that ‘at present the UK ranks 23rd for reading, and 26th for maths in international league tables for pupils aged 15 – below Estonia, Slovenia and Poland’.

The target for 2020 is for England’s schools to rank number one in Europe and amongst the top five in the world in English and maths.

The standards that Nicky Morgan (the Education Secretary) expects children to achieve by the age of 11 is ‘to know their times tables off by heart, to perform long division and complex multiplication and to be able to read a novel.

They should be able to write a short story with accurate punctuation, spelling and grammar’.

For this to be achieved within four years across the state school system (if the reforms are to be implemented next year) is quite a challenge, especially as Ms Morgan has stated that in the recent past ‘every third child left primary school unable to read, write or add up properly’.

Although it is a challenge, we do not think it is an impossible one. In the article submitted to The Sunday Times by Ms Morgan, she does admit that the ‘aim is unapologetically ambitious, [but will give] every child the chance to master the basics and succeed in life’.

Ms Morgan gives the example of a new school in West London that, after only 3 years of being open, is now the ‘most successful and sought-after primary school in the country’.

She puts this success down to ‘a relentless focus on helping every child master the basics’ and writes that it ‘just goes to show what is possible when you focus on what really matters: getting the basics right for every child’.

Leaving aside the politics, I have always been passionate about education and seeing children succeed.

I believe that the right way to teach children is to help them master the technique and then give them the chance to practise what they have learned.

Giving children the knowledge and skills they need in both numeracy and literacy during their primary years will set them up to succeed to the best of their ability in whatever secondary school they ultimately attend.

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