Nick Gibb defends the new curriculum

From the  speech by Nick Gibb, State Minister for Schools, at the annual meeting of ACME, 10 July 2012:

[T]he draft programme aims to ensure pupils are fluent in the fundamentals. Asking children to select and use appropriate written algorithms and to become fluent in mental arithmetic, underpinned by sound mathematical concepts: whilst also aiming to develop their competency in reasoning and problem solving.

More specifically, it responds to the concerns of teachers and employers by setting higher expectations of children to perform more challenging calculations with fractions, decimals, percentages and larger numbers. […]

As it stands, the draft programme is very demanding but no more demanding than the curriculum in some high-performing countries. There is a focus on issues such as multiplication tables, long multiplication, long division and fractions.

Last month, the Carnegie Mellon University in the US published research by Robert Siegler that correlated fifth grade pupils’ proficiency in long division, and understanding of fractions, with improved high school attainment in algebra and overall achievement in maths, even after controlling for pupil IQ, parents’ education and income.

Related posts in this Blog: an alternative curriculum and Robert Siegler’s paper.

One thought on “Nick Gibb defends the new curriculum

  1. The paper you have loaded onto this website which purports to show a connection between learning fractions, long division and future mathematical success does not tell you what the test items were. In fact the test items do not support the need for ‘long division’ if this is taken to mean ‘the traditional long division algorithm’. One of the questions, for example, that Siegler calls ‘long division’ is 256 divided by 64. With regard to fractions, binary arithmetic with fractions is not in the test, but fractions seen as operators, as parts of a whole, and the notion of equivalent fractions are in the test. Taking this into account it makes perfect sense to say that understanding fractions and division are essential, but to turn this into a requirement that all children should do fractions arithmetic and the long division algorithm in primary school does not make sense.

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