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Ministers North and South working together to raise standards in numeracy

24 February, 2010 - by Caitríona Ruane

The ability to understand and make use of numbers is a key life skill which all young people must have.

That was the message from Education Minister Caitríona Ruane and Minister of State in the Department of Health and Children, Aine Brady, as they opened the North-South Post-Primary Numeracy Conference in Fermanagh today.

Bringing together practitioners, policymakers and influencers from the North and South of Ireland, the conference is examining how the teaching of crucial mathematical skills can be improved and provides a forum to share best practice and innovation.

Speaking as she addressed delegates at the event, Ms Ruane said: "Tá uimhreacha in achan áit inár saol laethúil, ó shiopaí agus comharthaí bóthair, spóirt agus caitheamh aimsire, go dtí na cáinníochtaí agus na tomhais a úsáidtear sa chócaireacht agus DFÉ. Tá uimhearthacht, i dteannta le litearthacht, mar chuid lárnach sa churaclam, agus tá sé mar eochairfhócas agam caighdeáin a ardú.

"Is eol dom, áfach, go bhfágann barraíocht daoine óga scoil gach bliain gan TGManna i mBéarla, nó i nGaeilge, agus i Matamaitic. Ní féidir leanúint de seo agus sin an fáth go bhfuil mo Roinn ag forbairt straitéis athbhreithnithe um litearthacht agus uimhearthacht.

"Numbers are all around us in daily life, from shops and road signs, sports and pastimes, to the quantities and measures used in cooking and DIY. Numeracy therefore, along with literacy, forms an integral part of the curriculum and raising standards is a key focus for me.

"I am keenly aware, however, that far too many of our young people leave school each year without GCSEs in English, or Irish, and Maths. This cannot continue and that is why my Department is bringing forward a revised literacy and numeracy strategy.

"Building on the good work already being done in schools, and the basis laid by the Every School a Good School policy framework, the strategy will help increase standards for all children. Furthermore, it will narrow the achievement gap that exists between children from the most affluent backgrounds and those who are more disadvantaged.

"This move towards greater equality will also be reinforced by the removal of state-sponsored testing at age 10 or 11. Now, through the path set out by Transfer 2010, children will start post-primary school in the North without feeling that they have been branded failures and without having been subjected to unnecessary stress.”

Minister Ruane added: "By identifying and maximising opportunities for North-South co-operation, we will help ensure that our young people have the skills they need to achieve their aspirations in life."

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