improve maths teaching

A shake-up of the way maths is taught to teenagers is expected to be announced by the Education Secretary, Estelle Morris.

The review of the maths curriculum at GCSE, AS and A-level will aim to make the subject more useful once pupils enter the world of work.

Ms Morris's announcement comes in response to a critical report of maths and science teaching published by president of Wolfson College, Oxford, Sir Gareth Roberts in April.

Sir Gareth's review - commissioned by the Chancellor, Gordon Brown in his drive to improve Britain's record on investment in research and development - recommended paying maths and science teachers more to attract and retain good recruits.

Ms Morris, is expected to acknowledge complaints from employers that school leavers often have a poor grasp of maths.

‘Power of maths’

Former television presenter of Think of a Number, Johnny Ball, said he believes children are not being introduced to the power and breadth of maths at a young enough age.

“What they need to understand is the mathematics that makes bridges stand up, the mathematics that empowers designers, the mathematics that empowers our technology - because we live in a technological age,” said Mr Ball.

“And if we don’t do that early - and we’re not doing that early enough - then we don’t get enough people going into the technical trades or engineering in our universities and UK PLC loses out.”

Mr Ball said maths was a lot broader than mere numeracy.

“In an effort to get everybody up to a numeracy standard, the whole thing’s been thinned out ,” he said.

“As a result you’re getting more people up to that standard, but that standard isn’t high enough and a lot of the gifted children aren’t really getting switched on to the power of maths by being extended - and you’ve got to extend kids, you’ve got to stretch them.”