Pupils falling behind due to ‘superficial’ maths teaching, OECD warns

Pupils in UK schools are falling behind in maths due to the ‘superficial’ nature of teaching, according to Andreas Schleicher of the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Schleicher claims that maths teaching is ‘superficial’ in the UK as it places too much focus on memorising and learning facts instead of fully understanding mathematical concepts.

Speaking to the Press Association, Schleicher described the teaching of maths in English schools as ‘a mile wide and an inch deep’ and suggested that the UK tends to over complicate teaching, while top performing East Asian schools will tech fewer topics in more depth to emphasise understanding.

Schleicher said: “One of the things that we see when you look at high-performing education systems in maths, they typically have three things in the curriculum; one is rigour, the second is focus and the third is coherence.

“Rigour means really having a high level of cognitive demand, and the UK is not doing well on it. Basically, the UK has a curriculum that is a mile wide and an inch deep, in the sense that a lot of the learning in maths is rather superficial.”

The UK currently sits at 26th in the world for maths based on the latest Pisa tests in 2013, behind East Asian countries such as Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan.

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