Parents admit to maths struggle

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Published: Monday 27th October 2014 by The News Editor

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Many parents admit they struggle to help their children with maths topics such as long division, fractions and percentages, despite finding the subject useful in their working life, according to a poll.

Over a third (34%) of mothers and fathers think maths is the hardest subject to help their child with, ahead of modern languages, science, history, geography and English, it reveals.

And it also found that around half of parents cannot answer a maths problem designed for 10-year-olds.

The survey, commissioned by Pearson with Carol Vorderman’s online maths school The Maths Factor, asked 1,000 parents for their views on the subject, and the new maths primary curriculum which was introduced into schools in England last month.

It found that one in four (25%) said they would not be confident in assisting their youngster with long division without their aid of a calculator, while a similar proportion (24%) said they would struggle to help with converting between decimals, fractions and percentages.

Nearly one in five (19%) said they do not feel equipped to help with long multiplication and 6% said they would have difficulty helping with times tables.

But despite many admitting they do not feel confident helping with their child’s maths homework on these ideas, 82% of those questioned said that they find maths useful in working life, second only to English (85%).

Around half (51%) of parents were not aware that a new maths curriculum had been brought into primary schools this year, while of those who expressed an opinion, around half knew that this new curriculum is more demanding, introducing children to topics such as long division and prime numbers at an earlier age, Pearson said.

The poll also claimed that less than half could correctly answer a primary school maths problem on currency conversion without the use of a calculator.

Parents were asked: “£1 exchanges for 1.60 US dollars. Ashley returns from holiday with 20 dollars having spent 60 dollars. How many pounds did Ashley start with?”

Around 47% gave the right answer of £50.

Overall, more than a third (38%) of the mothers and fathers questioned said maths was one of their most difficult subjects, while 34% said that they disliked it at school and 25% said they would rather admit to being bad at maths than to being bad at English.

But just 9% said that they had no need for maths in modern day life and the majority (82%) thought that basic maths at primary school can help children solve more complex problems in later life.

Two thirds (66%) said that their child becomes confident in maths is one of the most important objectives of their youngster’s primary maths education, while 44% thought it important that their child enjoys maths and 42% thought it was important that youngsters are well prepared for secondary school.

Ms Vorderman said: “Maths skills are essential in everyday life and it’s perhaps concerning to see a divide opening up between those who are aware of the new curriculum and those who aren’t, and between those who have the confidence to help their children and those who don’t.

“As a parent myself, I know how busy life gets, but with a bit of support we can all easily become confident with numbers.”

:: The ICM poll questioned 1,000 parents between October 3-13.

Published: Monday 27th October 2014 by The News Editor

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