By John Stead - 5th December 2011 7:03am
It is a startling fact that there are now in excess of one million young people without a job to go to everyday.
Many of those young people, for a variety of reasons, have not been able to achieve a decent grade in GCSE mathematics which employers are constantly telling us are a necessary requirement to start a working career.
Teachers, we know, have a difficult task engaging with pupils of a wide range of ability in class sizes that regularly exceed 25 pupils. Young people have many challenges as well as opportunities which demand their attention, so it is often a case of them switching off when the task gets difficult and turning attention to more interesting and often sociable activities.
It is my opinion having spent most of my adult working life as a lecturer in Engineering Sciences, helping students to overcome fundamental mathematic technique problems in order for them to progress in their engineering studies, that the many of the problems lie in those formative years of education.
Young pupils failing to handle the basic concepts of number lose confidence in their ability and fall further behind as the pace increases. Parents often too lack the confidence to help because “it's so long since I was at school” and “we didn’t do it that way in my day”.
An over reliance on the use of calculators then leads to a point where we have difficulty in estimating whether a figure is correct or not.
If we want our children to succeed we need to try to support them as best we can sooner rather than later. It is no use panicking a few weeks before the final examinations.
There are a number of people in the district who offer mathematics tuition, including me, and it is not just for children. It need not cost a fortune, just a few weeks one-to-one tuition for parent or pupil can make all the difference in unlocking some of the basics, building confidence and making a difference to the long — term job prospects of our young people.
(Audlem Online adds: There's a wide and growing number of local tutors listed on Audlem Online, not only mathematics but English and French, or playing a musical instrument. Click on the link to John's page or look in more detail under Organisations/ Businesses/ Home Tuition.)
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