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Decision to cut time spent teaching maths is criticised

PRIMARY school pupils must spend more time learning maths, a teachers' leader said last night.

Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO) president Jim Higgins said the decision to reduce the time allocated to maths 10 years ago should be reviewed.

It would be one of the ways of tackling the worrying fall in Ireland's standards in numeracy, he told the annual conference of the INTO.

Irish 15-year-old students' place in world rankings on maths proficiency dropped from 16th to 26th between 2006 and 2009, according to the most recent OECD/PISA survey

Mr Higgins said primary teachers would respond to the challenge of raising standards in numeracy and literacy, which also experienced a dramatic fall in the international league table, from fifth to 17th place.

But he told Education Minister Ruairi Quinn he also had to give a commitment to support teachers by resourcing modern classrooms and providing more training.

There was a real need to improve the quality of maths textbooks and develop digital content to support the curriculum, Mr Higgins said.

The primary teachers' leader called for the roll-out of new school books to be controlled in order to help parents cut costs.

He wants the Department of Education to get involved to ensure the publication of new editions is kept to a minimum.

"Increasing numbers of households are now facing severe financial hardship on a scale unknown for years," he said.

"Decisions taken by some publishing companies to introduce new sets of books have more to do with increasing profits than education."

He was not calling for an outright ban on new editions, but said many books could be updated with a single insert or supplement.

Irish Independent