Children’s maths learning hit with ‘triple whammy’ of extra hurdles after Covid

Children in the UK may have their mathematics progress hindered by a 'tripple whammy' of threats, according to a new report.

Experts at the Centre for Education and Youth think-tank (CfEY) have found a strong link between children’s performance in maths at the end of primary school and at GCSE. The results found that this link is much stronger than it is for other subjects.

While the pandemic has severely disrupted the learning for millions of children due to having to study at home, one subject that has taken the worst of the hits is maths.

Earlier this year, the Department for Education raised alarms when they said that by autumn 2020, students were around three months behind where they should be with their maths progression.

The CfEY have attributed this situation to the fact that primary-aged students are less likely to receive tutoring when it comes to maths than they are for other subjects.

The report states: “This early intervention is particularly important because the link between attainment and future earnings is stronger in maths than other subjects.

"A recent large-scale study from the Department for Education showed that the marginal return on an extra GCSE grade in maths was approximately double that of an extra grade in English.”

There is also concerns surrounding an environment in which ‘maths anxiety’ could become more prevalent.

The report continues: “Further support is crucial given that an extensive body of international research shows that maths anxiety can overload and disrupt working memory during mathematical tasks, driving some pupils to avoid maths altogether.”

Identifying that additional support needed for pupils is an initial step in the right direction but the next question is where exactly is this support going to come from?

The report says: “Many parents lack confidence in their ability to support their children in maths, due to their own difficulties with the subject and changes in teaching methods since they were at school.”

Loic Menzies, the chief executive of CfEY, said: “Far too many pupils reach the conclusion early on in their educational careers that they can’t succeed in maths and the pandemic has thrown additional obstacles in disadvantaged pupils’ way.

  • Teachers can suffer from maths anxiety as well as students, says expert

“Yet skilled, one-to-one support in maths at primary school has the potential to equip pupils with the foundational understanding that they need in order to unlock future success in the subject.”

It isn’t as easy as it sounds to create a network of one-to-one support for each pupil in primary school, with a lack of resources and funding.

There are alternatives in the form of spending a few hours a week giving your child a bit of a ‘maths boost’ at home with basic exercises and lessons. However, this may not be accessible to everyone whether that be because of lack of time or lack of confidence in the subject yourself.

Maths-Whizz is a virtual tutor that is able to work with your child one-to-one on demand at the click of a button via a virtual tutor.

The clever software will even calculate a ‘maths age’ for your child, a measure of their mathematical knowledge deciphered using fun activities and non-pressurised assessments.

Maths-Whizz claims that students who complete 60 minutes per week of exercises on the dedicated website will not only 'build confidence, ability and motivation' but will also increase their 'maths age' by 18 months in their first year of using the platform.

Find out more here.

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