Arithmetic – a dying 'R'?

March 11, 2010, 1:38 AM GMT+0

The majority of British parents of children aged 5 to 11 believe that basic arithmetic skills of school leavers have decreased since their own time at school and this may be why so many feel the need to help regularly with maths homework or pay for extra maths tuition, a survey for Stuart Higgins Communications suggests. 60% of parents with 5-11 year old children feel that arithmetic standards have decreased – only 18% disagree.

Among the same group of parents, a huge 91% have helped their children with their maths homework, and 18% have employed a tutor or a similar teacher to give their children extra maths tuition.

Across all British regions, 35% say they pay a tutor between £6-15 for half an hour’s teaching. Fees paid vary hugely, from under £5 to £50. Two percent said they paid between £46 - 50 for 30 minutes’ tuition.

And while 39% of these parents employ a tutor for at least one hour a week, five percent said they employed someone for at least eight hours every month. In addition, 85% of parents with children between 5 to 11 years say they regularly help their children with maths homework, (except in Wales, where a still-significant 75% do ) with 59% spending up to 30 minutes every week and 31% spending up to an hour helping out.

This help may be facilitated by the fact that the survey implies that older generations may be more competent with basic arithmetic. Parents were asked a simple arithmetic question and given a 60 second time limit to answer without a calculator. When asked ‘What is ¾ of £1.28?’, 80% of over 45s correctly answered 0.96, compared to only 63% of the under 35s.

Perhaps the decrying of modern maths skills teaching highlighted by the survey has some foundation after all, and if so, maths tuition looks like it could be here to stay.

For full survey details and results, please click here