The Implementation of the Curricular Requirements of the Education Reform Act 1990-91
This is the second report on the implementation of mathematics in the National Curriculum. It is based on HMI visits to schools during the school year 1990-91, focusing on the second year of implementation in Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 3, and on the first year of implementation in Key Stage 2. Evidence was collected on visits made to 426 primary schools, 22 middle schools and 354 secondary schools. The emphasis was on work in Reception, Year 1 to Year 3, Year 7 and Year 8, but other years were also observed where possible, in order to see developments which were taking place in each school as a whole.
The report stated that leadership in the subject was the single most crucial factor in the quality of work overall and in effective implementation of the National Curriculum and found that leadership in mathematics was unsatisfactory or poor in 40 percent of the primary schools, 56 percent of the middle schools and 36 percent of the secondary schools. It was felt that, because of the disturbingly high figures, they indicated an area that would benefit from INSET provision.
A quarter of the primary schools, over a third of the middle schools and at least a fifth of the secondary schools experienced problems with staffing for mathematics. These included recruitment, retention and initial qualifications. Lessons taught by staff who were not appropriately qualified tended to be of poorer quality. Teachers in primary schools had, in general, sufficient background in the mathematical content required in Key Stage 1 and Year 3, except in some aspects of shape and space and handling data and probability, although they lack experience in applications of the subject.
Although some attention had been given to using and applying the skills and knowledge learned, much still needed to be done in this important area. There was further growth in the use of calculators in primary schools and in the use of micro-computers in all Key Stages, although their use was rarely linked to well-developed policy statements. In each of the three Key Stages standards were at least satisfactory in about 70 per cent of the classes visited.
Overall it was felt that schools had generally made good progress in planning for the National Curriculum. Most teachers were aware of the changes they needed to make but implementation in the classroom was much slower and most pupils were not yet experiencing the full breadth of the National Curriculum.
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Resource by: HMSO