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Ministry backs focus on maths, English

Published:Saturday | May 31, 2014 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

Paris Taylor, writing in the Saturday Gleaner of May 17, 2014, in alluding to comments by former Prime Minister Bruce Golding, suggested that the Ministry of Education should focus on teaching some students only the core subjects of maths and English language until learning is achieved.

The Ministry of Education has, in fact, advised school leaders that, at the start of each academic year, they should identify students in the early grades at the primary level who are weak in numeracy and literacy and focus on improving these skills before moving them on to other subjects. A similar approach has been recommended in the teaching of mathematics and English language to grade seven students who require remedial instruction.

In addition, the Ministry of Education has implemented two developmental reading programmes at the primary level that are mandatory instructional approaches: Literacy 1-2-3 for lower primary; and Literacy 4-5-6 for upper primary. These two programmes have a prescribed set of materials and methodology which are designed to provide students with the necessary foundation in learning standard English as well as sustain the knowledge and skills gained over the rest of their educational development.

ISLANDWIDE SUPPORT

Through its National Comprehensive Literacy Programme, the ministry provides support to classroom teachers at both the primary and secondary levels of the education system. Currently, 102 literacy specialists are assigned to 500 schools across the island.

The Ministry of Education is now far advanced in the implementation of the National Comprehensive Numeracy Programme. This is being rolled out in all primary schools and select secondary schools across the island. Students requiring remedial instruction aside, the ministry's strategic approach to the teaching of maths is to encourage school leaders to:

Carefully analyse student performance data.

Identify students needing additional support and reduce their subject load.

Plan and implement lessons which develop mathematical concepts using real-life situations.

The Ministry of Education has been working closely with teachers to support them in developing the competencies they will need to consistently engage their students in this manner. The deployment of 140 mathematics coaches scheduled for September 2014 is designed to provide more consistent, on-the-ground support for teachers in this regard.

BYRON BUCKLEY

Director, Corporate Communications

Ministry of Education