Progress made on numeracy, but still ‘a long way to go’


Numeracy skills were deemed average in around half of schools inspected in Wales in the last academic year, a new Estyn report has revealed.

In just under half of primary and secondary schools inspected in 2013/14, pupils were seen to develop good or better numeracy skills but in the remaining schools numerical skills were at best average. The findings come in the second of three reports by the education inspectorate detailing improvements being made in developing pupils’ numeracy skills across the curriculum.

The interim report, entitled Numeracy in Key Stages 2 and 3, generally found that schools have made progress since the first year of the survey. However, many of their strategies have yet to make a consistent impact on standards.

Ann Keane, the chief inspector, said: “It is pleasing to note the progress made by around half of the schools we inspected. However, it is important to emphasise that there is still a long way to go before schools make a full and consistent impact on improving the standards of pupils’ numeracy skills. 

“There are still too many pupils who lack confidence in key aspects of mathematics, such as division and working with percentages. Pupils’ numerical reasoning skills are generally not strong enough and this is something that we see too often in school inspections and thematic work.

“Staff need more support to widen their knowledge and understanding of strategies to help pupils to use numeracy across the curriculum. Teachers need to have a greater understanding of pupils’ strengths and weakness so that they can plan to cater for all abilities, including more-able pupils. 

“In addition, leaders need to focus more on the standards of pupils’ work in lessons and books when they monitor and evaluate the quality of numeracy rather than relying only on lesson observation.”

The report highlights best practice across the country and sets out recommendations for schools, local authorities, regional consortia and the Welsh government to improve pupils’ numeracy skills.

These include ensuring that pupils master important number skills, develop numerical reasoning skills in mathematics lessons and other subjects and improve assessment and tracking. 

The final report in this study will be published in two years’ time so that impact of the Literacy and Numeracy Framework and the National Support Programme can be captured more fully.


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