23 Jan 2012

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-24029922-many-pupils-cannot-add-or-spell.do

More than a quarter of children aged between 10 and 12 cannot add two small sums of money without using a calculator, a survey has revealed.

Youngsters are leaving primary school unable to spell, add or do times tables and their parents do not have the time to help them, new research shows.

Around a third cannot do division or basic algebra while half do not know what a noun is or cannot identify an adverb. Almost a third cannot use apostrophes correctly.

Despite this, parents only manage to spend less than 10 minutes a day helping their children with their learning, according to online tuition service mytutor, which commissioned the survey.

More than a quarter (27%) of children surveyed could not add £2.36 and £1.49 to get £3.85; more than one in five (22%) could not use the correct version of “they’re”, “there” or “their” in a sentence and almost a third (31%) could not pick the correct use of an apostrophe from three simple sentences.

In addition, more than a third (36%) could not divide 415 by five, while a quarter did not know the answer to seven multiplied by six. Almost half (48%) of parents thought their child was worse at maths than they were at the same age, and 36% felt their child’s English was worse.

Nick Smith, head of online tuition at mytutor, said: “Maths and English are key skills for children as they enter secondary school, yet our study shows that many are already slipping behind their peers and could be lacking confidence.”

Shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg accused the Government of “ignoring the warning signals” in the report. He said: “Instead of focusing on the 3Rs, they are cutting funding for programmes which provide one-to-one support for reading and writing. This means 9,000 more children will be at risk of falling behind this year alone.”

A Department for Education spokesman said: “Getting the basics right at primary school is vital. That’s why we are placing such emphasis on improving pupils’ reading ability early on, using the proven method of synthetic phonics to teach children to read.

“We are committed to improving standards in maths – bringing more specialist maths teachers into the classroom and focusing on basic arithmetic.”

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