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Parents to blame?

Published yesterday, the latest “Trends in In International Maths and Study” (TIMMS)concludes that parents are to blame for under achievement of their children in Maths. The report states on page 194, paragraph 3:

“A composite variable of seven home activities – being read to, going to the library, playing with numbers, painting and drawing, being taught letters, being taught numbers, and songs/poems/rhymes - had greater predictive power for literacy and numeracy achievement than any other variables studied, including socio-economic status, parents’ education, and household income”

And in their opening summary to Chapter 4, page 173, entitled: Home Environment Support for Mathematics Achievement, the highly respected report concludes:

“The importance of an early start in school was related to higher mathematics achievement in TIMSS 2011. Fourth grade students had higher mathematics achievement if their parents reported that they often engaged in early numeracy activities with their children, that their children attended preschool, and that they started school able to do early numeracy tasks. Home resources for learning and high expectation were related to higher average achievement at the fourth and eighth grades.”

And in a country like the UK where, year in year out, the split between children who achieve an acceptable competancy in Maths (Grade C at GCSE) and those who don't is about 50:50, the report has the following observation in Chapter 4, page 195:

"Internationally, across the countries at the fourth grade, 49 percent of the students had parents that “Often” engaged them in early numeracy activities, and an additional 45 percent had parents that “Sometimes” engaged them in early numeracy activities. The fourth grade students whose parents “Often” engaged them had higher average achievement than the students whose parents only “Sometimes” engaged them in numeracy activities. In several countries, a small percentage of students had parents who “rarely” did any of the numeracy activities with them, and these students typically had low average mathematics achievement."

Parents need to know these facts. They need to know they can make a difference. They need to know that they don't need to be rich to make this difference. They need to know, that even if they are extremely busy people, little things can make all the difference.

Little things like simply encouraging your children to learn. To ask questions. To listen in class. Little things like not saying “I hated Maths”. Little things like saying 'you can do it'. Creating a can- do culture of aspiration and hope is the implicit starting point for all the positive correlations highlighted in the TIMMS report.

David Clancy, creator of the 12 wonderful theMultiples characters which he has put on his unique Times Table plates, bowls, beakers for the home and for schools says:

“The aim is to nudge your child into being confident in being curious, into talking about things, into asking questions, into believing that anything is possible in this still largely unknown, and as Professor ONE Hoot from Berlin often says, “this astonishingly magical universe in which we live”.

Parents must be careful not to push because that creates fear, and fear is toxic to learning. But it is crystal clear from the report that the right sort of background parental support is the key variable and predictor in student's early and ultimate success at school - and it's not about how much money you have.”

Notes to Editors:

This Year's No.1 Christmas Present: Your Time!

1. TIMMS Report published 11th December 2012

2. Buy Times Table Plates online shop

3. Follow theMultiples on Facebook

4. Follow theMultiples on Twitter

5. Contact: David Clancy (m) 07771 707252 (o) 01273 906603 or email

6. Schools who have discovered Times Table Plates:

Alleyns School, Dulwich. Wimbledon High Junior School. Newick Primary, Lewes, East Sussex. Barcombe Primary, Sussex.Wethery Pre-prep, London. Denton Primary, Sussex. Trevor Roberts School, London. Montgomery School, Exeter. Marfields Primary, Congleton. Sarum Hall, London. Hamsey Primary, Sussex. Old Heath Community Primary, Chartham. Apple Tree Primary, Kendall. Chartram Primary, Chartram. Fletching Primary, Sussex. Haworth Primary, Haworth. Selsted Primary, Selsted. Plumpton Primary, Plumpton. Lanercost Primary, Brampton. St George's School for Girls, Edinburgh. St Michael's, Bishop Stortford. Winter Garden's Primary, Canvey Island, Hollytree Primary, Brentwood. Dearne Goldthrorpe Primary, Rotherham. Cumnor House, Danehill. St Piran's Society, Maidenhead. St Gregory's Coventry.

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