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Maths report a cause for concern – Crowe

4 July, 2012 - by Seán Crowe TD

Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Seán Crowe TD, commenting on the findings of a report published today by the National Competitiveness Council into the teaching of maths said:

“This report is timely and presents a number of very worrying findings. A big concern is that current standards of Irish students are well below those of their contemporaries in other developed countries.

“The report also highlights concerns about the country's future competitiveness and controversially blames uninspiring teaching, a lack of application and the CAO (Central Applications Office) points system for the maths crisis.

“Its findings seem to confirm the trend identified in Ireland’s global PISA standings that between 2000 and 2009 showed a marked drop in standards from 15th to 25th in Maths.

“If the Minister for Education is serious about improving numeracy standards then he must take stock of the report’s recommendations, which include the setting of new increased targets for the number of students sitting higher level maths in the Leaving Certificate.

“He must also examine the proposal that maths be a required subject for entry to a college course and that it should be included among the six subjects counted for the CAO points purposes.

“The problems experienced recently by students taking the Project Maths exam must also be addressed. One positive development is the fact that further training has been given to maths teachers. The primary teacher training course is also to be increased from three to four yours, with a focus on numeracy skills.

“The Minister is also consulting with universities on changes to the points system and is expecting a report shortly. Another worrying outcome that has emerged is that the present system will take between five to ten years to fully implement.

“Maths is a vitally important subject that is a significant driver in Ireland's future competitiveness. Lessons must be learned from this latest report in order to improve the future delivery of maths within the Irish school curriculum.”

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