Why are businesses having to teach youngsters English and Maths?

Why are businesses having to teach youngsters English and Maths?

For decades, universities and businesses have complained that many coming through the school system have sub-standard literacy and numeracy skills.

While the 2014 National Curriculum changes were a move in the right direction, the problem remains.

The boss of John Lewis, Dame Sharon White, has recently disclosed that the business is giving basic English and Maths lessons to young staff because they have been ‘completely failed’ by the education system.

My fear is that the disruption to our children’s education during the pandemic will exacerbate this problem.

Basic literacy and numeracy skills must be mastered at primary level because without these building blocks the children will struggle at senior school – and potentially for the rest of their lives.

Secondary schools are not set-up to carry out corrective and supportive work – and neither should they have to except in exceptional cases where children are educationally challenged.

Studying multiple subjects means that extensive work on literacy and numeracy support is less achievable without damaging progress in other subject areas.

Moving from class to class and the other elements of the secondary school day makes catching up difficult.

It is much simpler to deal with the problem when children are younger and have less demanding study in other subjects areas.

Also, children at primary level are not facing the turmoil of puberty and all the challenges and complexities of developing into a young adult.

It is much easier to solve problems at a younger age than when children are older.

This is why the foundations must be built here.

The National Curriculum of 2014 is still not rigorous enough.

We should be demanding far more from primary schooling.

Here’s how numeracy and literacy should be addressed at primary schools.

English and maths should be taught by specialists – just as they are in most preparatory schools.

A primary school teacher’s expertise might not be in either of these subjects.

To focus on ensuring all children have basic numeracy and literacy skills ought to be the primary objective of primary schools.

Foundations are what hold a building up. This principle applies in education just as much.

Exploratory and progressive approaches are fine once the basics are in place.

The problem with a great deal of primary education is that it has been strongly influenced by the progressive movement in education which does not focus on technique.

Progressives believe they are acting in the best interests of the children. But if their influence means primary school leavers can’t grasp the basic skills of English and maths then they are actively harming children.

And we know these gaps in education can affect a person right through their lives.

With the last year of disrupted education, all emphasis must be on ensuring primary school children and those heading for secondary schools have basic numeracy and literacy skills.

Without them, more businesses will find their new recruits unable to cope and this will affect not just the companies and the youngsters – but the economy as well.