Mr Reddy Maths Blog

Lizz Truss on TESMaths chat

11:33

tes

TES Team:

Hello and welcome to TES Maths Week. We’ll be joined from 7pm by DfE minister Liz Truss, who’ll be answering your questions on maths in the new primary and secondary curriculum. You can ask questions live later on, or you can leave your questions or comments ahead of time in the comment box below.

6:55

truss

Elizabeth Truss:

Good evening, I’m Elizabeth Truss, Minister for Education and Childcare.

6:58

Comment From Craig

Have the changes to the curriculum been influenced in any way by the introduction to the Common Core Standards in the US, and what are your views on them?

6:59

truss

Elizabeth Truss:

The changes to the curriculum are based on our expert group looking at the top performing jurisdictions and that did include some U.S states – such as Massachusetts. We didn’t directly use the common core standards.

7:00

Comment From Guest

How does the curriculum address the drop-off in attainment in Years 7 and 8? In other words, how does it seek to make the transition from primary to secondary a bit smoother?

7:03

truss

Elizabeth Truss:

Firstly one of the issues we’ve had with the primary curriculum is it’s broad – if you look at the TIMSS study, there was quite a lot of data and statistics early on, compared to high-performing jurisdictions which focused on core arithmetic. The aim in reforming the primary curriculum was to make sure students had a deep understanding of core arithmetic, as well as being able to use it fluently. This will help when students are going on to secondary. We also want to make sure that students are able to use formal mathematics that they will encounter at secondary.

7:03

Comment From Anon

What does she consider the most important change in the new maths curriculum to be?

7:07

truss

Elizabeth Truss:

One of the major changes is the focus on deep understanding and practice of core arithmetic at primary, and the earlier learning of times tables and work with fractions. Another major change is the increased size of GCSE to reflect the demand of the content at that level. We anticipate that schools will increase the time they spend teaching maths in secondary to better prepare students in line with the fact that the weighting is being doubled at 16 in the performance tables. Also in the GCSE, there is more focus on understanding core material from key stage 3, such as ratio and proportions, as well as more application and more preparation for A level work.

7:07

Comment From Anon

Why do we still need things like long multiplication and division in the age of technology?

7:09

truss

Elizabeth Truss:

The key point about technology is that you need to understand what technology is doing – one of the key points about mathematics is the ability to think, to structure arguments and develop the high-level analytical skills that are needed in many occupations now. When we have looked at high-performing jurisdictions, they use these methods and they are very good preparation for advanced mathematics. In fact some of the teachers who went to Shanghai and who brought this practice back to England have said that their students have benefited greatly and find it more straightforward.

7:09

Comment From Anon

When will technology play a part in the assessment process?

7:11

truss

Elizabeth Truss:

That’s a matter for Ofqual and the awarding organisations. Awarding organisations are exploring innovative assessment methods for the new 16-18 Core Maths qualifications they are developing. These approaches are already used for diagnostic assessment and formative assessment by teachers.

7:11

Comment From Guest

What support will be available for year 6 teachers delivering algebra for the first time?

7:13

truss

Elizabeth Truss:

We’ve funded NCTEM, the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Maths, to provide materials and work with schools to help implement the new curriculum. We’re also establishing 30 maths hubs around the country, which will be schools who are providing expertise to other schools in their area. What we want to see is a school and teacher led approach to improvement. I would also suggest that there is a lot of scope for primaries to work with their local secondaries, which will also help address the transition issue mentioned earlier.

7:13

Comment From Anon

Do you think the changes will better prepare students for A-level maths? And/or lead to a greater uptake in the subject?

7:15

truss

Elizabeth Truss:

Yes. The new GCSE is deeper and has more pre-A level material in it, at the higher tier. As I’ve mentioned it will be double weighted in the accountability tables, which gives a strong incentive for schools to focus resources on mathematics teaching. We are already at record levels of students taking maths A level, however we want to see an even greater uptake. One of the roles of maths hubs will be to help achieve that.

7:16

Comment From Steve Wren, via email

You’ve noted that students in Shanghai (and other high maths performing jurisdictions) tend to have more hours of maths tuition per week. This raises the question – what do they have less of? And would the Government be comfortable about those subjects being reduced if our schools followed their curriculum model even if they are, for example, E-Bacc subjects like Geography?

7:17

Comment From Guest

You say that you anticipate schools will spend more time on mathematics – does this mean you expect them to take the time from other subjects?

7:18

truss

Elizabeth Truss:

At present we are 39th out of 42 in terms of the number of hours we spend teaching maths (TIMSS). What I observed in Shanghai and the other Chinese provinces I visited, is that maths is taught daily, in both primary and secondary schools, and there is daily follow-up and feed back to students. It’s for schools to decide how to organise their school day, however, I observe that many schools are now treating maths on a par with English and science in terms of teaching time.

7:18

Comment From @scott_young

My question is “What role can and should business play in helping teachers and schools to relate the learning of maths in the classroom to its potential application in the real world and future career paths as a means of inspiring and encouraging students studying it?

7:20

truss

Elizabeth Truss:

I think business has a major role to play in helping inform students about the huge potential that maths has in career terms, and supporting work in schools. I’m working with a number of business organisations and professional bodies at the moment on how we can get this message across.

7:20

Comment From Guest

How does the new math curriculum affect the foundation/Reception class?

7:20

Comment From kelechi

How would the foundation/Reception class be affected by the changes in the new curriculum ? Is there any statutory requirement for three foundation class? What is assessment like here too? What makes an outstanding lesson in the foundation class?

7:22

truss

Elizabeth Truss:

Reception children follow the early years foundation stage, and the key stage 1 curriculum has been designed to fit with that. I am currently working with early years organisations on early understanding of number, to ensure that children have the basics when they arrive at school.

7:22

Comment From Dawn D

When will specifications be finalised so we can plan for the new GCSE; including grade descriptors so we can guide and advise our students?

7:25

truss

Elizabeth Truss:

We have published criteria for the new GCSEs which awarding organisations are working on. Ofqual are responsible for standard setting and the final publication of the specification and I will ask them to reply to you this. Schools will have a year to prepare for teaching.

7:25

Comment From Guest

Do you think the new secondary curriculum enables students to see the real power of applying mathematics to solve problems?

7:27

truss

Elizabeth Truss:

Yes. The rationale for having a primary school curriculum where students achieve fluency and confidence in arithmetic means that they can progress to problem solving and applying mathematics in many situations. We are clear that the new GCSEs will fully examine the abilities of students to do this.

7:28

Comment From Emlyn Lumley

Where does the minister expect that the country will find the number of additional qualified teachers required to deliver the anticipated greater uptake and increased time allocation to mathematics? And what is the minister’ subset estimate of that additional number of teachers?

7:28

Comment From Swampy

If we are to increase the amount of teaching to secondary pupils, where are the extra maths teachers coming from, when we already struggle to employ mathematicians?

7:30

Comment From Qasim Mughal

How does the department plan on accounting for these additional hours of maths, with the current shortage of maths teachers?

7:31

truss

Elizabeth Truss:

In 2012-2013 we were close to target in recruiting teachers of mathematics, and the latest vacancy rate for mathematics is 0.5%. However we recognise the vital importance of mathematics teachers which is why they command the highest level of bursary. We also have a scholarship scheme worth up to £25,000. Of course there is a role for schools in developing talent and initiatives like the maths hubs will enable the sharing of best practice. I would also encourage schools to use the flexibilities they have to retain high quality maths teachers.

7:31

Comment From Lee Bell

We’ve been told that we have the flexibility to devise our own assessment procedures for tracking the progress of children and that levels re to be replaced. In leaving APP behind, what system should schools be looking to use to effectively track progress?

7:33

truss

Elizabeth Truss:

We’re giving schools flexibility over how to track progress. In his recent speech, Sir Michael Wilshaw gave indications of what good and outstanding schools do to monitor the progress of their students in terms of regular assessment.

7:33

Comment From Joanne Sharpe

How do you see maths being assessed at KS2 when the new curriculum is in place?

7:34

truss

Elizabeth Truss:

We will shortly be announcing the framework for maths assessment at key stage 2.

7:34

Comment From Mitesh

How will colleges/Universities and employers distinguish between state school 1-9 grade and IGCSE A*-G grades?

7:35

truss

Elizabeth Truss:

This is a matter for Ofqual, they will be publishing a consultation on this shortly.

7:35

Comment From Dave Gale @reflectivemaths

What can be done to help move away from the constant idea that we teach maths because it’s useful? I think we teach maths because it makes the brains think in ways that other subjects don’t do.

7:38

truss

Elizabeth Truss:

I completely agree with you. I think we need to communicate a broad vision of what maths is about so it’s more generally understood. Of course, it’s very useful to the individual in terms of their employment opportunities. And of course to our economy overall. We do need parents and children to understand this. However, there is a broader point that in the same way we celebrate great works of literature or art, we should also be excited about our mathematical heritage and its future potential.

7:39

Comment From Clarissa

How is the government planning to address the bigger problem of maths teacher retention. Putting money into recruitment is pointless if improvements are not made to working conditions, including the poor non-contact time ratios (10% compared with 60% in Shanghai, for instance).

7:43

truss

Elizabeth Truss:

We are giving much more power to schools and headteachers to have a truly school-led system. Ultimately it’s good headteachers who understand how to grow and develop talent. Some of the elements of the way that schools operate in Shanghai – for example, more time for collaborative work between professionals for reflection and marking – can be implemented in England. For example, in Kibworth School in Leicestershire, they have taught children in larger groups to provide an additional six hours of teacher development time a week. Teaching grades measured by external assessors are a full grade higher. Of course each headteacher will want to do what’s right for their school, but there is a freedom and flexibility to innovate which can often achieve many positive results.

7:43

truss

Elizabeth Truss:

I note that maths teachers have more teaching time scheduled that average.

7:43

Comment From Qasim Mughal

How does the new curriculum help address the gap between educationally disadvantaged pupils and say more advantaged pupils such as private school pupils.

7:45

truss

Elizabeth Truss:

I think the gap between educationally disadvantaged and advantaged children is really addressed by the teaching rather than the curriculum. What I observed in Shanghai, which has very good attainment by students from low-income backgrounds, is that there is an expectation that all students will get to a given level and students are given one-to-one support if they fall behind.

7:46

Comment From David Pye

Why does the Government still insist on teaching all young people the same mathematics curriculum? We have a need for academics and a need for practical life skills. We could possibly engage more young people with developing good real life maths skills if we met their needs better than one shoe fits all approach that the new qualifications are turning into?

7:47

tes

TES Team:

A few of you have asked for the link to Sir Michael Wilshaw’s speech, referenced earlier. We’re looking for the link now.

7:47

truss

Elizabeth Truss:

The link to the HMCI speech is: www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/north-of-england-education-conference-2014-hmci-speech

7:48

truss

Elizabeth Truss:

The best performing countries and jurisdictions have high expectations of all their students and encourage them to carry on studying maths for as long as possible. The key is having a belief that everybody can get to a good level in mathematics.

7:49

Comment From Guest

Are the results comparable between Shanghai and China as a whole? Could we in the UK select a city and be comparable?

7:53

truss

Elizabeth Truss:

I visited Shanghai and Hubei province, a less well-off part of China, with a team of maths experts including Charlie Stripp from NCETM, and head teachers including Shahed Ahmed. We found that the teaching methodology was very similar in different parts of China and it had the same systematic approach and deep focus on the understanding and practice of maths. Of course, parental attitudes contribute to successful outcomes. However in all cases, we saw really excellent teaching and feedback. The mathematicians on the visit felt we could learn from the practice in schools.

7:53

Comment From Emma

Why will all students be expected to retry GCSE until they reach at least grade C when grade C is an ‘average’ grade? If all students are average or above then surely that shifts the average?

7:55

truss

Elizabeth Truss:

Grade C isn’t the average grade, it’s the grade that we think students need to get to to obtain a level of confidence and competence in maths. It’s recognised by employers and there is very strong evidence that a qualification in maths is the best protection against unemployment – and therefore vital for young people.

7:55

Comment From Guest

What is the thinking behind including Roman numerals in the Primary Curriculum? Year 4 to read Roman numerals to 100 and year 5 to 1000 and read dates written in Roman numerals.

7:57

truss

Elizabeth Truss:

Roman numerals are widely used from report writing to timekeeping and it’s a good thing for students to know.

7:57

Comment From Rachel

Do you feel the changes in curriculum will help the UK shift away from its “can’t do maths” attitude?

7:57

Comment From Guest

You mention parental attitudes, how can the government help in shifting the attitudes of the older generations who believe it is acceptable to admit that they were rubbish at maths in school, therefore making it excusable for their children?

8:02

truss

Elizabeth Truss:

It’s World Maths Day this Wednesday, and we will be using this opportunity to highlight the value of maths and laying out our plans for improving confidence in this vital subject. I completely agree about it being a problem that people think it’s acceptable to say they are bad at maths. I think we can change this outlook and we are keen to get you involved. Please contact the department via social.media@education.gsi.gov.uk

8:03

tes

TES Team:

We’re afraid that’s all we’ve got time for this evening. Thank you very much to Liz Truss for taking time out of her schedule to talk to us this evening. We’ve got plenty more coming up during TES Maths Week — to find out what, go to www.tesconnect.com/mathsweek

8:03

truss

Elizabeth Truss:

Goodbye, I’ve really enjoyed being part of this discussion. Go TES Maths Week

What do you think of this post?
  • Like (0)
  • Dislike (0)

Leave a Reply

Post Navigation