As millions of parents admit they struggle to help with maths homework, the nation needs a maths confidence boost
- Parents have less confidence talking to their kids about maths and science than they do sex education, reveals new research from learning and assessment provider Renaissance
- Maths was the subject most likely to give parents the ‘Sunday Scaries’ when they were at school (30%) followed by PE (26%) and Languages (26%)
- Additional research amongst teachers finds three in ten (30%) would feel anxious if they had to solve a maths problem in front of students
New research among 4,153 parents from learning and assessment provider Renaissance shows that parents say they feel more confident talking to their child about sex education and relationships than maths and science. The survey, conducted by YouGov, confirms a lack of confidence continues to dog mathematics, with 55% of parents admitting they struggle to help their kids with maths homework – equating to millions of parents across the UK.
Parents more readily admit to being ‘bad at maths skills’ or struggling with the subject compared to literacy skills. The new research reveals less than 14% of parents say they lack confidence in literacy skills. However, 61% of parents admit to feeling less confident in maths skills.
Parental attitudes to maths may have been shaped in their own childhood, with 30% of parents saying maths was the subject most likely to give them the Sunday Scaries when they were at school, followed by PE (26%) and Languages (26%).
The new research comes off the back of a recent report from Renaissance and the Education Policy Institute, which revealed maths outcomes for primary aged pupils remain below pre-pandemic levels by the end of the autumn term (2022/23). This amounts to just under 1.5 months’ worth of learning and outcomes for younger year groups are even further behind pre-pandemic norms. This compares to average outcomes in reading which have largely been recovered in primary schools.
Further Renaissance research, also conducted by YouGov among 1,035 teachers, showed three in ten (30%) teachers say they would feel anxious solving a maths problem in front of students. And just over two thirds of teachers have heard parents speak negatively about maths (67%).
To increase maths confidence and inspire the next generation to thrive in the subject, the surveyed teachers say the top tools required are: more engaging maths classroom and homework resources (37%), more maths teachers (34%), and education technology (28%).
Renaissance’s education technology solutions such as such as Freckle maths practice and Star Maths provide teachers with computer-adaptive formative assessment to personalise learning for each student. These solutions deliver time-saving, data-driven intervention and evidence of attainment for teachers and pupils. It’s also made free Focus Skills™ workbooks available to help teachers plan a comprehensive roadmap focussed on addressing the maths learning loss experienced by pupils and close the learning gaps.
Frances Kingston, Renaissance Consultant, says: “Whilst it’s reassuring for teachers and parents to know they are not alone in their anxiety towards maths, we want to foster a culture where these fears are replaced with a sense of confidence that everyone enjoys and thrives at maths.
“Parents’ and teachers’ anxieties around their own maths skills can impact children’s progress in the subject and risk making children feel worried about maths too.
“However, there’s more that we can all do to feel confident around maths and technology plays an important role in this. At Renaissance, our solutions create unique maths learning pathways for each individual pupil. Each pupil is set work which comfortably stretches and challenges them so they can practise and improve their maths skills in a supported environment. This in turn increases feelings of confidence rather than fear.”
Ketrina Teresa, maths lead and Year 6 teacher at a primary in Dorset with a growing education following on TikTok, says: “As a class teacher and maths lead, I have been faced with students, parents and other colleagues who panic about the challenges they may face in maths. I totally understand where this panic comes from but I want to remove some of that dread and empower students, parents and colleagues to feel more confident about maths. Renaissance’s solutions are a great tool to help accelerate students’ learning and boost their growth mindset around maths. The more empowered students feel in the subject, the more their confidence and ability will flourish.”
Martin Kelsey, Executive Headteacher at The Raglan Schools, says: “We want all our teachers to feel empowered to teach maths and inspire our students to have a passion for the subject. Teachers, especially at primary schools, have many subjects and curricula to work through. Renaissance’s Star Maths and Freckle help our teachers monitor student comprehension and progress of the topic, while ensuring each student has a truly tailored learning experience.“