General Teaching Council Northern Ireland

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Fear of maths among teachers damages pupils


The Telegraph

Female teachers with “maths anxiety” are fuelling the stereotype that boys are better than girls at the subject, according to research.

A lack of confidence in their ability to add, subtract and divide is easily passed on to female pupils, it was disclosed.

The study, which was based on 117 infants in the US, found that many girls had a “significantly worse” grasp of maths after a year of being taught by a nervous teacher.

Academics from Chicago University found that “worries and self-doubt” were not past on to boys as they rejected the behaviour and attitudes of adults of the opposition sex.

The trend is being fuelled by the fact that the vast majority of primary school teachers are female.

Figures published last year showed that almost nine-in-10 primary teachers in England were women. More than a quarter of schools had no male teachers at all, it was disclosed.

The latest study – published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences – found that the behaviour of teachers strongly reinforced the view that “boys are better at maths” than girls.

It follows the publication of figures showing that boys out-performed girls in mathematics for the first time in a decade last year. More boys in England, Wales and Northern Ireland gained at least a C grade GCSE in the subject.

The move followed a decision to axe maths coursework, which experts said traditionally played to the strengths of girls.


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