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Stop nursery children falling behind in maths, says All-Party Parliamentary Group

25 Nov 2014

Too many early years settings fail to provide young children with a good start to their maths education. The first report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Maths and Numeracy is calling for a better trained and qualified workforce that inspires a ‘can-do’ attitude in early years maths teaching.

In 2013/14, 28% of children in England failed to achieve the expected level in mathematics at the end of the early years foundation stage (Department of Education 2014). And once they fall behind, they continue to do so throughout school.

The report is calling for:

  • The government to increase the focus on maths and numeracy in the early years curriculum, by emphasising ‘number sense’ in young children.
  • All early years teachers to be trained in children’s mathematical development with better guidance and resources.
  • Better support for parents to develop their children’s maths skills.
  • A national ‘positive-about-maths’ drive.

National Numeracy Chief Executive, Mike Ellicock said:

“We really do need a drive to create more positive attitudes to maths so that early years staff – and parents – pass on the right messages. If children don’t start to develop mathematical confidence and skills at an early age, we know they are unlikely to catch up later.”

Caroline Dinenage MP, Co-Chair of the APPG, said:

“Far too many young children in this country struggle with maths and numeracy. This leaves them playing a game of catch up for the rest of their lives; a game most of them end up losing. As this report sets out we need a greater focus on maths and numeracy in the early years. If we can provide children with a good grounding at a young age then we will set them up to succeed in their later studies and their future careers.“

ICAEW Executive Director for Learning and Professional Development, Mark Protherough, said:

“We need children to have more confidence when it comes to maths not just because it’s essential for school – but for life. By inspiring children from a young age not just to count numbers, but understand them, you can help to develop savvy thinkers who can solve problems. ICAEW urges the Government to better support teachers and parents and increase its focus on improving mathematical development from a young age.”

This is the first short report for the APPG which is supported by the charity National Numeracy and accountancy body ICAEW.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group brought together a number of early years and maths education specialists to discuss how maths and numeracy is learnt in pre-school settings and how a positive attitude can be instilled during this vital stage of learning.

Launched today on Tuesday 25 November at the House of Commons. The launch will hear from Nick Boles MP Minister of State for Skills and Equalities, Barry Sheerman MP, Caroline Dineage MP, television personality, Johnny Ball and Stephanie Cracknell from Mathemagical.

Read the report