HC Deb 10 June 1999 vol 332 c765
1. Helen Jones (Warrington, North)

What assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the numeracy hour; and if he will make a statement. [85393]

The Secretary of State for Education and Employment (Mr. David Blunkett)

The national numeracy project has been evaluated by the National Foundation for Educational Research in England and Wales. Seven hundred and fifty schools took part in the project. Using a baseline of two years earlier with similar children, there was up to a 16-month improvement in the performance of those who had been part of that programme.

Helen Jones

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for that reply. Would he agree that, if the numeracy project is to be effective, one of the essential ingredients is for staff to be properly trained and supported? Will he join me in congratulating teachers on the work that they have done so far on the various initiatives that the Government have introduced? Will he take this opportunity to assure the House that proper support and training will be provided for the introduction of the numeracy hour in all our schools?

Mr. Blunkett

I am very pleased to give that assurance. The evaluation of the project undertaken by Ofsted shows that teachers were able to plan, organise and teach mathematics much more effectively. Obviously, training teachers is a crucial factor. We have put £55 million into training and materials for the programme and 1,760 extra teachers are providing model lessons. Teachers in every school in the country—including the head and a governor—will have the opportunity to receive the necessary training in the months ahead. We have expanded by one day the number of training days available this summer to facilitate the training programme. As teachers become more familiar with the numeracy programme, the sort of figures that we have seen for the literacy hour will be reflected—90 per cent. of primary teachers have said that they found that framework helpful and positive and have welcomed it.