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Question Time view on primary schools

(45 Posts)
jacobibatoli Sun 19-Feb-17 21:22:31

last QT a retired Maths secondary school teacher said that over her 37 years she had seen a steady decline in the grasp of basics from school kids coming from primary schools
they no longer knew their tables or could do fractions
this is a very big reason why secondary schools struggle if the kids that are delivered to them don't know the basics
my kids have gone through this stage and the primary school did not practise the times tables enough or have get a good enough grasp of fractions
I am not an educationalist/teacher just a despairing parent
I think primary schools are failing the kids who do not have a good grasp of the basics

smilingsarahb Sun 19-Feb-17 21:33:25

I struggle with this as my children are at primary school and do learn their times tables and both do fractions. The elder one knows all his tables to 12 12 and can multiply and divide fractions with ease (y5) the other one is on route to doing that. I think maths teaching is far better than when I went to school. The emphasis on understanding what a number is early on, and then learning several different methods of doing something (so one is more likely to click) seems to work. However I guess the children currently at Secondary school might have been taught in a different way as the curriculum and teaching methods change all the time.

jacobibatoli Sun 19-Feb-17 21:47:16

I am glad that yours have that grasp

I can only speak from my own experience and talking to other parents
I don't think the tables or fractions are practised enough
maybe some of that is due to the advent of calculators
if you speak to secondary school teachers who have to teach maths they are going to struggle if the basics aren't there

at the secondary school my kids go to the number that can't get a c at maths is shockingly high

jacobibatoli Sun 19-Feb-17 21:48:24

my point is that it is a domino effect that should be caught at primary school

llhj Sun 19-Feb-17 21:58:12

Oh cobblers. Children have never been as mathematically drilled as they are now compared to the last 35 years.

thatdearoctopus Sun 19-Feb-17 22:07:02

And what are you doing to help your children learn their tables? At my school, we do lots of work on multiplication facts, but the bottom line is that they have to put in the effort (helped by their parents) at home too.

jacobibatoli Sun 19-Feb-17 22:10:23

happy to disagree with you completely
the rigour is not there
happy for you if your experiences are otherwise
and it is also the experience of some teachers too, not just the QT teacher who would have no reason to say otherwise

jacobibatoli Sun 19-Feb-17 22:18:44

thatdearoctopus
I did help mine at home with their tables and with their fractions too
and they have no problem with these
but not all kids have help at home and those that don't, rely completely on the schools
I agree that it should be schools, kids and parents but not all kids have all 3

sn1ce Sun 19-Feb-17 22:20:52

Don't use calculator s at primary anymore ime-there is no longer a SATS calculator paper

eddiemairswife Sun 19-Feb-17 22:24:52

They need to learn their tables by heart, and to understand to do that by constant repetition. I found that learning by heart is a skill that seems to
be beyond a lot of people nowadays. As far as fractions are concerned, I started doing fractions at secondary school. I feel that too many concepts are being introduced at primary level, before children have the mathematical maturity to cope with them

jacobibatoli Sun 19-Feb-17 22:30:47

sn1ce
that is good news wrt primary schools (but they are overused in secondary schools)

eddiemairswife
I agree wrt repetition
I think primary schools kids should be able to cope with simple fractions and their equivalent to simple decimals (using money as a good example)

bojorojo Sun 19-Feb-17 23:54:33

People who are retiring always look back to a non existent 'golden age'
of yesteryear! I would take it with a pinch of salt and have a good read of the primary school maths curriculum whilst you are doing it.

In my experience there are about 10-20% of children who struggle with Maths at primary school. Really struggle. Depends on the area the school serves and the SEN children. Poor teaching at secondary school ensures many more children do not reach C grade. There is more poor teaching in secondaries than in primaries.

When I was at school we had a group of about 12 (out of 40) who really struggled with maths and could not have accessed the secondary curriculum. I went to a grammar school and I struggled and I never did get multiplication and division of fractions! These days, that would never happen! The primary maths curriculum now covers topics from Y7 previously. There is plenty of rigour at primary. I think you need to be better informed about the curriculum and less swayed by misinformation.

Spanish10 Mon 20-Feb-17 00:54:00

My dd passed her sat but she is struggling in secondary school because she does not know basic thing, like division, multiply with decimal, algebra ( basic)..,

mrz Mon 20-Feb-17 06:21:59

How could a child pass the SATs without knowing the basics ...did someone else do the tests for her?
Children have three test papers one Arithmetic (basics) 2 reasoning (applying those basics) https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachmentdata/file/524052/2016ks2mathematicspaper1arithmeticPDFA.pdf

irvineoneohone Mon 20-Feb-17 06:24:45

Imo, they spend too much time going over times tables.
They start in ks1, and huge part of lower ks2.
If children are not getting it, they must be doing something totally wrong.
Fraction as well. Once they get the concept, there are nothing so tricky about it.(Well, maybe concept of times and divide for some, but once they know how to handle it , nothing tricky, imo.)

MiaowTheCat Mon 20-Feb-17 10:29:50

Our head asked parents to start teaching their kids to count up in multiples (2s 5s 10s) as a precursor to tables learning before they'd entered reception! Most kids are better by Y6 at their tables than I ever was when I was at school these days. Likewise common fraction/decimal/percentage equivalences - they're pretty much a given to be worked on again and again and again.

Everyone complains the current generation is doing something less well than previous generations - be it recalling Maths facts, toilet training, holding doors open for little old ladies or whatever... rose tinted views of the past are something humanity does very very well. Maths when I was at primary school was the odd times table test, and then sitting there working through whatever page was next on our Ginn textbook before trotting off to the teacher's desk to get it marked and go on to the next page. There's no way on this earth teachers these days would get away with that level of laziness - and it left me with gaps in understanding that I only really got over when I did my teacher training myself (long division was something I never ever understood at school - I did enough to get past the pages in the textbook on it and then promptly forgot about it for decades).

I don't believe you want an honest discussion on this though - you just want a nice little teacher bash session.

thatdearoctopus Mon 20-Feb-17 10:48:39

I was just about to ask how you apparently know in detail what "all primary schools" are or are not doing, when I re-read this in your OP: I am not an educationalist/teacher just a despairing parent.

Your observations based on pretty much no evidence run in total contrast to mine, which are based on 30+ years of actual teaching in primary classrooms.

ProfYaffle Mon 20-Feb-17 10:54:04

My experience is not how op describes at all. Both my dds (yr 8 and yr 5) drilled a lot on times tables at primary, work in fractions, % , no calculators allowed etc etc

sirfredfredgeorge Mon 20-Feb-17 12:19:06

Related, but why does knowing times tables help beyond speed of calculation, which is valuable of course, but I don't see why it would be a fundamental barrier to accessing later maths?

As irvineoneohone suggests, the concepts are not that complicated, and if you don't understand the concepts, having rapid recall of times tables isn't going to help you, but more mask it.

mrz Mon 20-Feb-17 12:27:01

Exactly it's a speed thing

kesstrel Mon 20-Feb-17 12:58:27

why does knowing times tables help beyond speed of calculation

Cognitive psychologists argue that it's a question of freeing up limited working memory. Having facts stored in long term memory for instant recall is important. For some children, if they don't know their multiplication facts, they will struggle to remember the original question by the time they have worked the fact out. Automaticity prevents this.

The same cognitive psychologists argue that times tables should not be learned only as a sequence (i.e. by chanting), as this method is often ineffective. Instead the individual facts should be mixed up and learned individually (e.g. by flashcards).

Practices in individual schools vary enormously, just as they do for phonics teaching, for example. There are undoubtedly many primary schools that do a good job of teaching maths facts. However, I have seen plenty of secondary teachers complaining about this, so there must also be a number who aren't.

kesstrel Mon 20-Feb-17 13:06:15

thatdearoctopus It's really not on to put in quotes something that the OP hasn't actually said. Also, English is very ambiguous when it comes to quantities and unmodified nouns: people often mean "some" or "many". In my opinion, it's unfair to assume they mean "all" when they haven't actually specified that. It certainly doesn't help reasonable discussion.

irvineoneohone Mon 20-Feb-17 13:09:04

Sirfred, I think having a instant recall of times table will benefit greatly doing harder maths. Calculating area and volumes, factorizing polynomials, etc.

thatdearoctopus Mon 20-Feb-17 16:11:48

kesstrel, fair point, but I'm not sure I can be bothered to engage properly with such an OP.
I did, however, appreciate your posts, as you seem to know what you're talking about. The OP is merely expounding a populist notion that "schools nowadays" aren't doing their job properly. I object to that most strongly.

KondosSecretJunkRoom Mon 20-Feb-17 16:29:40

This can't be true. I was in school thirty years ago and all my teachers were wonderful hippies who were much more interested in letting us be creative than bog us down with restrictive notions like spelling, grammar and times tables hmm.

My experience of school looks nothing like that of my children's, which seems regimented in comparison and where the kids are drilled within an inch of their lives and where every ounce of learning must be configured to a ticky-box.

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