Mathematics at Papatoetoe Central School

Dear parents and caregivers

I am sure that many of you read the article in this morning’s “New Zealand Herald” that criticises the way students are taught maths and calls on parents to demand a return to basics. I am writing to clarify our maths curriculum and to assure you that we teach a very structured and focused maths programme at our school. We have made changes to maths teaching at our school in recent years.

In 2013 we met with staff from the Massey University Centre for Excellence in Mathematics. We discussed with them how we intended to change our maths teaching programme to include a more structured approach. We had concerns about the Ministry of Education Numeracy Project and the extent to which it was dominating our maths teaching.

As a result, we reviewed our maths teaching approaches and following consultation with our Board of Trustees, we purchased Prime Mathematics for students in year 4-6. This maths programme is a composite of the approaches used by the three top performing nations in primary mathematics education – Singapore, South Korea and Hong Kong. The instructional approaches are formal and there is an emphasis on applying maths and solving mathematical problems. All maths lessons also include the teaching of basic facts.

We begin teaching times tables in year 2 at our school and we are very pleased with our students’ basic facts knowledge at all levels. The digital programme Mathletics is incorporated into maths lessons in year 4-6 and we also run a Mathletics option programme for those students who want to do more maths during their break time.

Maths is taught daily for one hour in all classes, but on Friday, in year 4-6, all students do maths for one and a half hours. We have developed a “Friday Maths” programme in which the focus is on solving mathematical problems. Students work in mixed groups and together work out answers to complex problems. Each Friday, students use their mathematical knowledge and skills in applied contexts and we are seeing some wonderful results.

In relation to the Ministry of Education’s national standards, our school is doing very well. In 2013, 82% of our students were achieving at or above the standard, while in 2014, 88% were at or above the standard. We were very pleased with the percentage increase last year and believe that our more focused and formal approach is working for your children.


If you would like to find out more about maths at our school, please feel free to contact your child’s teacher. Our staff will be willing to talk to you about our maths curriculum and your child’s progress and achievement in maths.

Thank you very much for your ongoing support that we all really appreciate.

Kind regards

Marilyn Gwilliam