Maths tutor: much work needs to be done

  • Encouraging signs: Sergio Pitcher of Planet Math

    Encouraging signs: Sergio Pitcher of Planet Math


Test results that showed the average score by public primary school pupils in maths last year rated as “poor” were not a shock, the founder of a maths tutoring service said.

Sergio Pitcher, the founder of Planet Math, said the latest Cambridge Checkpoint score for Primary 6 pupils of 1.9 in 2018-19, rated as “poor”, was “not a surprise”.

He said: “We know there is a lot of work to be done.”

The annual assessments are designed to rate Primary 6 and middle school year 3 pupils on English, maths and science.

The Cambridge system uses a scoring system from 0, rated “very poor”, to 6, graded “excellent”.

Scores from 3 to 4 are classified as “good”. Scores of between 2 and 3 are rated “OK”.

Scores from 1 to 2 are rated “poor”.

Last year’s average P6 score of 1.9 was the worst in eight years.

The previous lowest score recorded by Cambridge Checkpoint experts was 2.2 in academic year 2015-16.

Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education, did not respond to questions about the Cambridge Checkpoint results last month.

A report published by The Royal Gazette in August revealed that a third of public primary schools were ranked as poor in maths based on average pupils scores over three years, from 2015 through 2017.

The newspaper has requested the school-by-school breakdown of Cambridge Checkpoint results for the tests sat by pupils in school years 2017-18 and 2018-19.

Mr Pitcher said that there had been a “downward trend” in pupil maths results.

But he added: “What I see being done to address it is very encouraging.

“I believe what is being done will not only stop this trend, but reverse it.”

Mr Pitcher highlighted work being done by the Department of Education along with “education experts” to provide training through Adam Unwin-Berrey, a British maths expert.

He said: “The training focuses on helping the students understand and become confident learners by ensuring teaching is effective and has high expectations.”

Llewellyn Simmons, the Director of Academics at the education ministry, said last month that the DoE was in consultation with Mr Unwin-Berrey “to build on the work he has started with primary schools around mathematics”.

Mr Pitcher said that public schoolteachers were up to the challenge of improving pupil grades.

He added: “I am confident that we will see gains in attainment and increased opportunities for our children.

“My daughters are in public education, so I have a vested interest in seeing the schools succeed.”

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Published Nov 12, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Nov 12, 2019 at 6:53 am)

Maths tutor: much work needs to be done

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