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teaching maths in primary schools - no text books allowed -is this for real??

Discussion in 'Scotland - curriculum' started by heldon, Dec 10, 2011.

  1. heldon

    heldon Occasional commenter

    I have been told recently that primary teachers are being told to teach maths but are not allowed to use textbooks -is this still the case out there -is this what you are being told or have we moved on from that position?
    please share your experiences
  2. heldon

    heldon Occasional commenter

    I have been told recently that primary teachers are being told to teach maths but are not allowed to use textbooks -is this still the case out there -is this what you are being told or have we moved on from that position?
    please share your experiences
  3. Not a primary teacher, but have seen the effect of textbook-only approaches to maths in primary, and it makes it very difficult for secondary maths teachers to so the things they are supposed to be doing for CFE. I'm coming to the conclusion that it's part of the reason pupils in S3 onwards have difficulty with the problem-solving aspects of Standard Grade and Higher - the basics of problems solving are not really taught until S1 and by then there's so much new content to learn that the pupils and teachers are often struggling to give an appropriate amount of time to it.
    I did a survey of S1 pupils and found that in my area, maths in primary consisted of pupils working through the H****** workbooks. Very little group work. No investigative work. Kids are coming through this system not knowing how to solve maths problems. yes, they can do sums (to some degree) but they don't know how to apply the skills they've learned in new situations.
    Don't know if they're not allowed, but, as long as they are used as part of the childs maths education, then that's fine. If it's the only thing they get then it's not.
  4. Flyonthewall75

    Flyonthewall75 New commenter

    That's interesting because usually Maths secondary teachers complain that pupils transferring from primary are unable to do even basic Maths calculations.
    Back in the 1980s, I remember being surprised that S1 pupils were working their way through Scottish Mathematics Project (SMP) work cards, with very little class, group or individual teaching. That certainly wasn't what they were used to in primary school.
    We eventually got agreement between the secondary and its feeder primaries on a core Maths scheme to aid transition and the 5-14 curriculum, because the secondary Maths department complained that associated primaries using different Maths schemes made their job more difficult.
    Then, having been given precise details, at transfer, of the Maths work that each pupil had covered and their level of ability, the secondary proceded to place pupils working on H......... (5) on H.......... (8) because (wait for it) they didn't have any H......... (5).
    The Maths department later admitted that they didn't pay too much attention to the transfer information passed on by primaries since they preferred to give all the pupils a 'fresh start', they had their own test and they didn't really believe in 5-14 (well, at least the bit that covered 12-14).
    As it happens, Maths problem-solving and investigative work has been part of the primary curriculum for as long as I can remember although secondary Maths staff regularly suggest we concentrate on 'the basics' and leave the rest to them.
    Yes, it is the case that primary teachers, and schools, are being discouraged from using Maths textbooks, workbooks, worksheets, jotters and programmes of work, in favour of random, unmoderated resources downloaded from the internet.
    It is possible, though unlikely, that primary pupils will, as a result, make better progress in Maths at secondary school than ever before.
    Whether a CfE is a great success, or an unmitigated disaster, I suspect some secondary teachers will continue to blame primary teachers for making their job more difficult.
  5. Nice post Fly, and in your area those points may well be true. However, I was recounting the experience that I have in my area and the maths the pupils in my school experience in primary.
    I don't think we teach in the same cluster.
    Too many people see criticism as blame. It's ridiculous that in this age of self-evaluation that it should be like this. We don't look to blame primary teachers, we need to identify the main problems and try to solve them. If one of the issues is lack of problem-solving skills, and we find that children are not getting experience at solving maths problems in primary, then that is an issue.....for us. We should be as able to openly discuss this as well as the we did regarding how secondaries ignored the information that came up from primary.
    It's a 2 way process. There's problems with the way both primary and secondary do things. To call an attempt to discuss a problem as "blame" limits the chance of the problem getting solved.
  6. Flyonthewall75

    Flyonthewall75 New commenter

    I couldn't agree more.
    One of the most successful examples of primary/secondary liaison I have experienced is where primary and secondary teachers have got together to discuss the progress of S1 pupils following transfer.
    Almost invariably the assessment of pupils by primary staff, prior to transfer, matched the assessment of the same pupils by secondary staff, after transfer. What I would like to see is more 'genuine' primary/secondary liaison rather than the 'box-ticking' exercise more commonly found in some schools and LAs.
    When secondary teachers spend even a day in a primary classroom, they are often quite surprised at the work, motivation and independence of primary pupils.
    In the same way, it has been an eye-opener for primary teachers to 'shadow' a class of S1 pupils, some of whom they have taught, and see how they adapt to the routine of the secondary curriculum and the challenge of specialist teaching.
    Without that interaction, it is all too easy to make assumptions that don't match the reality.
    Education is also a lifelong process and, whilst primary and secondary schooling is important, it is only part of a much wider experience.
  7. This is exactly the worrying position I find myself in. HT has a vision of a 'textbook free school' resulting in most of the standard resources being binned. We also don't have any structured planners to follow but are told rather that we should be able to look at the CfE outcomes and devise for ourselves what we want to teach. I have never taught SOLELY from a textbook, rather giving a wide range of activities and experiences to support lessons however I found the textbooks essential in terms of assessing and ensuring the children could apply what they had learned. I find it really worrying that whilst CfE is supposed to ensure 'breadth, depth and cohesion', misinterpretation of how to implement it has led to getting rid of many of the tools which would allow teachers to do so.

  8. No books is a stupid idea. Kids need to consolidate their knowledge by doing loads of sums. Best place to find loads of sums?

    Provlem solving skills develops with reading age and maturity. Hard to teach it.
  9. Dominie

    Dominie New commenter

    If you have genuine professional concerns re this then involve your union (EIS?) and ask for the matter to be discussed by ALL the staff at a staff meeting. Insist on the meeting being minuted and if the teaching staff disagree with the HT then ask that the policy be modified. If this does not work then ask your union to intervene with your local authority.

    I am sure you don't want to stick to 100% textbook work either but to throw away good and proven resources in favour of ?????? is absolute madness.
  10. It's even harder to develop it if they don't really start until Secondary school.
  11. I would agree that problem solving skills develop with maturity, but it's no harder to teach than anything else provided you pitch the task to the children's ability.
    I think a textbook program is an important tool at least for primary maths teaching if only to offer more guidance in scope and sequence than the bare CfE E's and O's offer. However, what I find with the textbook series we are using (SHM) is that while there is a huge emphasis on developing skills of mental calculation, there is woefully little material in the way of applying these skills. Children end up learning number facts as if in a vacuum.
    When it comes to basic maths and mathematical thinking, children need to learn not only their "number bonds" and times tables, but how to work out what operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division) to use and in what order, and how to show or explain their choices in mathematical terms. The right answer is never enough. A child has to be able to show, using equations, where that answer came from.
  12. brawlassie

    brawlassie New commenter

    I am in a primary school where one new member of staff has been turning up her nose at older staff who are still incorporating maths textbooks into their maths work. She thinks that maths textbooks are ' the work of the devil and no self-respecting teacher should ever dream of using them.' Unfortunately she has the ear of SMT who are now questioning the need for any worksheets or jotters at all for maths. Are they stupid? I've always taught a mix of practical maths activities and games and textbook work for consolidation. Children cannot possibly learn all their maths experientially. They have to do pencil and paper work sometimes. Most experienced teachers understand that there has to be a balance. I'm getting so sick of all these bandwagons that come around. This is one I'm refusing to jump on. I imagine that in 10/15 years everyone will be singing a different tune. Surely there needs to be a voice of commonsense here!
  13. heldon

    heldon Occasional commenter

    this one has got up such a momentum (mv) that the kinetic energy (1/2mv.v) it has will be difficult to stop .
    If we still have the potential energy(mgh) in a year or two then I guarantee someone will need to be held accountable for what is going on
    they will of course blame who??
  14. Yes there is, and it's yours! Keep up the good work by doing what you've been doing [​IMG]
  15. Dominie

    Dominie New commenter

    Heard an interesting item this morning on R4 Today ...


    Around 08.25 am. 2hrs 21 mins into the prog
  16. I would love to hear HMIE's answer to this question.

  17. I'd ask him to clarify that once and for all, loud and clear, in black and white plain English, for my LA, Dept of Ed, and SMT.
  18. Flyonthewall75

    Flyonthewall75 New commenter

    Well, there would appear to be a number of LAs, QIOs and HTs who have got the wrong message as well.
    Here are two statements taken from recent inspection reports which seem to be used in some form or another quite regularly:
    "... increased emphasis on active learning is evident in many lessons and is improving learners' engagement" and
    "... more active approaches are resulting in improved behaviour, although some children still need to listen better in some lessons and group activities."
    These statements would seem to imply that there is a direct link between 'active learning', 'improved learner engagement' and 'improved behaviour' but the inspectorate do not appear to define what they mean by 'active learning' or how they know when a learner is engaged.
    Some children learn a great deal by working away quietly whilst others can appear to be very busy but learn little and retain even less. Indeed, perhaps some children would listen better, and learn more, if they weren't subjected to so much 'active stimulation'.
    Of course, it could be that HMIE / Education Scotland are having second thoughts about the issue of 'active learning' being interpreted as 'playing games' and are looking for a way to cover their backs.
    In fact, I can almost hear the script being written right now:
    "We never said there was anything wrong with textbooks, workbooks, worksheets, jotters and agreed programmes of work, if used judiciously. We simply meant that children should be actively engaged in their learning."

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