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Research underway to find out if primary school teachers need honours maths

The ESRI has been asked to complete its examination of the issue by the end of the year.

Image: Teaching Maths via Shutterstock

THE ESRI HAS been commissioned to carry out research to examine what maths qualifications should be required for students entering teacher training.

Last month, Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn sparked debate by suggesting that primary school teachers should have achieved a pass grade – at least – in Higher Level Maths in the Leaving Certificate.

Currently, a pass at either Higher or Ordinary level is sufficient. The only special requirement for the course is Higher Level Irish.

Answering a parliamentary question, Quinn advised Deputy Pat Deering that the Teaching Council has asked the research body to undertake the work.

Its final report will be presented to its Education Committee in the last three months of this year.

“I have asked the Council that the research be conducted in an expedient manner so that clear and definitive advice can be provided and a decision made at the earliest opportunity,” added Quinn.

The Council had looked to do its own public consultation process on a proposal to raise the entry requirements for primary initial teacher education but ran into considerable problems.

It said due to the “complexity of the issue involved”, a conclusion could not be reached and that “further research was required”.

Quinn reiterated his wish to raise the requirement which would mean all future primary school teachers would have to pass the Leaving Certificate Higher Level maths paper.

As all primary teachers teach mathematics as an integral part of the curriculum, I believe that raising the quality of teaching and the confidence of teachers will have a positive effect on all children’s performance in mathematics.

“I have asked the Teaching Council to advise on the entry requirements for initial teacher education including those for mathematics in view of overall concerns regarding standards in mathematics.”

Deputy Deering had asked Quinn when a decision would be reached about the proposal about honours maths. He also asked for the Labour TD’s reasoning and grounds for calling for the move.

During the INTO’s annual conference in April, Quinn said there was evidence that “young women who do the Junior Certificate and take Higher Level Mathematics comfortably in the Junior Certificate exam, drop Higher Level Mathematics when they do their Leaving Certificate because it is not a requirement”.

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