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Children: Numeracy

Question for Department for Education

UIN 176112, tabled on 25 March 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department has taken to increase numeracy levels in children from low-income households.

Answered on

14 April 2021

The Education Endowment Foundation highlights that “quality of teaching is the single most important driver of pupil attainment and a range of other positive outcomes”. The Department’s national network of 40 school-led Maths Hubs aims to help local schools improve the quality of their mathematics teaching based on best practice. The Maths Hubs programme aims to help improve attainment gaps, which may be associated with disadvantage or other factors.

Maths Hubs deliver our £100 million Teaching for Mastery programme, which is bringing mastery teaching methods to 11,000 primary and secondary schools across England by 2023, including throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. Mastery teaching focusses on depth of understanding and is based on best practice from East-Asian jurisdictions that perform highly in international mathematics tests. Mastery is characterised by whole-class teaching, where pupils work on the same content together, ensuring no one gets left behind. It encourages all pupils with the belief that by working hard at mathematics they can succeed and rejects the idea that some pupils “can’t do maths”. The programme also includes funding for approved maths textbooks, which is currently focussed on schools with the highest proportions of disadvantaged pupils.

Recent international testing results demonstrate our progress on mathematics. In PISA 2018 there was a significant improvement in maths scores for 15-year-olds, particularly for lower attaining pupils. Similarly, results from TIMSS 2019 show our Year 5 and Year 9 pupils continue to perform above the international average – with a significant improvement in attainment for our Year 5 pupils.