Maths misunderstanding multiplying, Ofsted warns

School pupils are being taught to pass maths exams without fully developing their understanding of the subject, Ofsted has claimed.

The education watchdog says many secondary schools are placing excessive emphasis on routine exercises, rather than focusing on the applicability of maths in everyday life.

And it warns that in nearly ten per cent of secondary maths lessons pupils’ progress was deemed inadequate.

Ofsted chief Christine Gilbert warned: “Too many schools are not teaching mathematics well enough.

“We need children to be equipped to use mathematics with confidence in and beyond the classroom to play their part in a rapidly changing society.”

The report is critical of those schools which ‘teach to the test’ exclusively by relying too heavily on routine exercises.

It wants the government to promote the improvement of teachers’ subject expertise and reintroduce the separate reporting of using and applying maths.

“The way mathematics is taught can make a huge difference to the level of enthusiasm and interest for the subject. As well as developing fluent numeracy skills to deal with everyday mathematics, children and young people need to be able to think mathematically, model, analyse and reason,” Ms Gilbert added.

“Mathematics has so much relevance to our everyday lives – for example, younger children learn about number systems and their use in money, weights and measures and time.”

Earlier this year a report by thinktank Reform suggested the failure to teach maths to a sufficiently high level was costing the British economy £9 million every year.