Take Maths Study with Pinch of Salt; VOICE OF THE NORTH

Article excerpt

ACADEMICS ought to be wary of claiming they have proof for the assertion that standards in mathematics have not changed for better or worse over the last 30 years ("Our maths isn't as hot as we thought," The Journal, September 5).

Having proof is tantamount to having conclusive evidence. Most educational research is based on a set of assumptions which we are not party to. There will also be caveats relating to methodology, especially statistical methods.

Why should we then find this report from Durham University more convincing than other evidence? For example, the report does not square with Government data, inspection evidence from the Office for Standards in Education, Her Majesty's Inspectorate and local authorities, which all point to an improved secondary mathematics curriculum, improved teaching quality and improved percentages of children reaching national standards for 14-year-olds since the introduction of the Government's National Strategy for Mathematics in 2000.

This evidence cannot easily be set aside and is perhaps more meaningful, since it relates to recent initiatives and their outcomes. …