Overcoming a Fear of Maths

The key to mastering any subject is practice and this is especially true of Maths. What I often see is a lack of confidence in Maths that is caused by pupils who find it difficult to keep up with the pace of the class. Whilst they are still trying to understand, the class has moved on having assimilated and practised the method. Usually this means that the pupil is experiencing a sinking feeling as they listen to the teacher extend the topic whilst they are still trying to get to grips with the first part. This is why people have such emotional reaction to Maths and why you hear adults saying “I don`t like Maths”. All of us dislike things that make us feel uncomfortable or inadequate and this dislike can very easily become anxiety or fear and these feelings clearly have a negative impact performance and an impact that is independent of skill.

The use of a tutor gives the best chance to practise and question the techniques either one to one or in a small group. Linking the tutoring to school work builds a solid underpinning of what is being taught in class. Additionally, the learner has the chance to question and verbalise their own understanding.

These are my top tips for successful tutoring:

  • Link the tutoring to what is being taught in class
  • Encourage to learner to say what they think the method is – under-confidence goes hand in hand with under-achievement in the class.
  • Repetition: Practice, practice, practice

Putting these together is the key to tackling underconfiderce and, therefore, underperformance.


Bucks Transfer Tests – the new 11+

In Buckinghamshire the Eleven Plus ( 11+) tests are now officially referred to as Secondary Transfer Tests are two multiple-choice ability tests of about the same level of difficulty.  Both tests assess three aspects of a child’s ability: verbal, numerical and non-verbal.

These tests are designed and administered by Durham University’s Centre for Evaluation of Evaluaiton and Monitoring (CEM).

The tests have been designed with a greater emphasis on working out a child’s potential and whether he or she can think problems through.  It was also intended that the new 11+ should test a wider range of skills than the previous tests and it does appear to be more closely aligned to the work children carry out in class at Key Stage 2 (KS2).

  • Verbal reasoning (1/3 of time): comprehension, cloze passages (missing words), synonyms, antonyms, comprehension and reading skills. A wide knowledge of vocabulary is a distinct advantage.
  • Numeracy (2/3 of time): Mathematics, data-processing, mental arithmetic and recognition of mathematical patterns.
  • Nonverbal reasoning (1/3 of time):   This section eliminates cultural bias in testing and the possible bias against individuals who may have difficulty with verbal elements.

Each test is 45-50 minutes long and is divided into separately timed sections covering the three types of content. The child’s scores in the two tests are added to produce a STTS (Secondary Transfer Test Score). If a child’s STTS is 121 or more, they are qualified for grammar school. It is expected that about 30% of children will have a Secondary Transfer Test Score of 121 or more.

The 11+ tests are administered by Compact Disc in individually timed sections meaning a child cannot move forward or return to a section. They are effectively mini-tests and there is still a strong element of speed and many people won’t complete all questions.

There has been some press to say this new exam is “tutor proof” however we feel this misses  the point of good tuition.  Now the 11+ is more closely aligned to work being done in the classroom, the right tuition is aimed at building confidence, building the core skills, having the tools to find the answer more quickly.  Added to that there is some exam technique to be learned.  Therefore tuition aimed at the 11+ will have a positive effect in the classroom now and in the future.

We will posting more on this topic and how you or your children can be prepared, so do keep an eye on our site.