Best practice in mathematics for pupils aged 3 to 7 years - June 2009


Standards of teaching mathematics in primary schools have improved overall, but many schools do not provide enough challenge for pupils to work to their full potential. In the best schools, staff discuss with pupils how they can use their skills in mathematics to solve problems and record their findings in different contexts and situations. In addition, girls’ attainment is consistently higher than boys’ attainment. However, the introduction of the Foundation Phase has helped to raise standards of attainment for boys because of its emphasis on practical learning.
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Schools should:

  • deepen staff understanding of mathematics so they can better identify what pupils need to learn next;
  • provide better and more frequent opportunities for pupils to ‘use and apply’ mathematics in their daily work, including improving the level of challenge for the more able to develop their thinking and problem-solving skills; and
  • involve all staff including support staff in drawing up mathematical development plans and short-term plans for teaching mathematics and numeracy.

Local authorities should:

  • make better use of data analysis to target support for schools whose performance in mathematics needs to improve; and
  • provide more training for teachers in mathematics and in securing more accurate and consistent teacher assessment at the end of Year 2.

For a full list of recommendations, please download the report.