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Numeracy & Literacy.

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ProfilePosted byOptionsPost Date


Dermot Report 12 Aug 2019 08:47

'One in five English children reaches the age of 16 without the basic numeracy & literacy needed for the world of work'.

*A comment made on our local radio last night. Anyone else to doubt the veracity of this unexpected claim? It certainly does not reflect my own experience of employing school leavers over many years.


PatinCyprus Report 12 Aug 2019 08:55

My daughter has had to teach engineering graduates how to write letters. :-S


JoyLouise Report 12 Aug 2019 10:30

Heard the expression, 'Yesterday I wanted to be an engineer, today I are one', Pat.

I'm pleased to say that my S-in-L is not like that! A cracking engineer, the company for whom he works funded his degree and paid him while he was doing it.


Von Report 12 Aug 2019 11:17

I can well believe it. When I was teaching we had children coming to secondary school
who couldn't read :-(

My personal opinion is that we try to teach children to read much too early.
They can do plenty of pre-reading and writing skills and when they are ready they learn to read fairly quickly.
It has to be an enjoyable experience.
It's the same with numeracy - if a child sees it's relevance they will learn
Lego is a great "toy" for understanding numbers ;-) ;-) ;-)


RolloTheRed Report 12 Aug 2019 11:59

As Von says learning must be fun.

In most of the EU formal schooling does not start until 6 although kindergarten for 3-6 is popular. These are not run as early schooling.

Despite starting 2+ years later by the time they are 18 the typical student in France, Germany, Benelux or Scandinavia is far ahead of the average Brit in all of social development, language skills and maths. For foreign languages the Brits barely register a score.

A level maths is hardly rocket science yet only about 5% of the UK population have such a qualification. Indeed only just over 20% have GCSE maths C or better.

There is little likelihood of any improvement in the near future. Rather the existing downward trend ( which also applies to English Language) is likely to continue for most state schools.

The reasons behind this ongoing national failure are not hard to find. Solutions are elusive. Failure to find and apply them will have stark consequences.


PatinCyprus Report 12 Aug 2019 12:00

She's a civil engineer Joy. Area director for the firm she works for.


PatinCyprus Report 12 Aug 2019 12:06

Now what she really looks like


RolloTheRed Report 12 Aug 2019 12:07

For every civil engineer ( inc y.t. ) there are 20 people with barely adequate maths for modern living.


JoyLouise Report 12 Aug 2019 14:17

When I lived overseas the commission I served on studied the effectiveness of class sizes. Under 20 children was the most effective size for learning. In state schools, teachers can only dream of a figure like that.

Von, how did you find class numbers?

My children and grandchildren could all read before they started school - short words at the beginning then taught two- then three-syllable ones.. I taught them exactly as I was taught - build up the words. Like me, though, my children hated school but 'sucked up', like a vacuum, everything they were taught. My grandchildren the same although the youngest started secondary education last year and began to like it. I hope he continues to do so but time will tell.

All-rounders as children, all of them, as well as being athletic, but with various likes, maths, science, music., language - all of which feature in my family's careers.

It makes for interesting get-togethers and serves well those of us who ever seek advice on a variety of things. Always got someone to turn to. :-D


Von Report 12 Aug 2019 18:21

Joy - to be honest I was very surprised to find that I was at odds with a policy of smaller classes.
I had always believed that it was the way to go but in reality I found it had the opposite effect. :-(
I'm sure that teaching wise it is the best policy but in my experience the school in which it happened there was no benefit. :-S :-S


maggiewinchester Report 12 Aug 2019 21:08

There has to be a reason private schools have 12 - 16 pupils per class!
The fewer the number of pupils, the easier it is to cater for their strengths and weaknesses.

As for literacy, the introduction of solely phonics to teach reading disadvantages quite a few pupils. Add to that they're now learning to read AND to understand adverbs, verbs etc at the same time - that would even put me off reading!

The enjoyment seems to have gone out of learning to read :-(


JoyLouise Report 12 Aug 2019 21:53

From memory, Maggie, because I've kept no minutes or paperwork from that era, it was found that in a class size of fewer than 12 children there was no really noticeable difference in learning ability than there was in a class size of, say, 15.

Up-to-date studies could prove me wrong, though, because I've been retired for years and served on that commission almost forty years ago.

Always something new over the horizon. :-D


maggiewinchester Report 12 Aug 2019 22:26

15 is still a small class nowadays!
Classes of 30+ are impossible.


supercrutch Report 13 Aug 2019 00:44

My children attended a Junior school which had a total of 22 children....2 classes for ages just under 5 until 11.

The children moved to the second classroom when they were 9.

They loved it.


PatinCyprus Report 13 Aug 2019 06:18

I was in a class of over 40 in my junior school and nearly half of us passed our 11+


maggiewinchester Report 13 Aug 2019 07:00

There's a possibility that corporal punishment was around - nowadays there's nothing to deter the habitual disrupter of classrooms.


PatinCyprus Report 13 Aug 2019 07:43

More important than the corporal punishment threat was how our parents would behave if they thought we were misbehaving. Teachers were treated with respect so if you played up in school and your parents found out you were in trouble at home as well.

Discipline was there but not cruel and we all did as we were told because with all us baby boomers crammed in classes (2 classes for each year) it would have been mayhem without it.


Tawny Report 13 Aug 2019 08:17

Did the belt always work though??? My father in law was born in 1950 the youngest of four children. He pulled his hands apart so the belt hit the teacher. As a result he was invited to leave school at 15. He did well for himself first as a joiner and then as a college lecturer in joinery(not kit erection like half of them today). The college decided all their lecturers should have a university degree he went as mature student and got a first class with honours. My father in law was at the required standard in english and arithmetic but not maths at 15.


Island Report 13 Aug 2019 09:35

No Tawny, the belt or rather the cane or thin edge of a ruler (despicable!) didn't work because in my school it was always the same boys queuing up for it. Girls weren't hit, they got lines. I quite liked lines :-D


RolloTheRed Report 13 Aug 2019 11:06

Scotland carried on with the belt and the tawse long after such cruelty was history in England and Wales. The IOM was the last jurisdiction under the Crown to persist with the cane.

There is not the slightest evidence that physical chastisement improved educational standards.

It is simply not possible to hold together a class of kids very much over 20 pupils and teach effectively. If (If... ) the pupils are highly motivated then 30 can be possible but it does not allow much in the way of direct teacher - pupil contact.

The inconvenient truth is that if the UK is serious about lifting the mostly poor educational standards of the country then it will take a great deal more money which will have to be paid by corporations and the rich. I cannot see that happening under the current junta which prefers building prisons.. Extending grammar schools, "free" schools and private sector academies does not deliver.