Scotland’s primary school pupils have been given “Christmas homework” – festive-themed maths puzzles to take home and solve over the holidays.
John Swinney, deputy First Minister, launched the Christmas Maths Challenge yesterday,(the day before most schools finish the festive break.
The initiative is aimed at encouraging youngsters, and their families, to take a more positive attitude towards numeracy and maths.
The move comes as Scotland faces an on-going crisis in recruitment for STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) teachers.
The five puzzles, aimed at primary six pupils and their families, were described as “a fun way of exploring maths outside the classroom”.
Mr Swinney, revealing the puzzles which were created in partnership with the Scottish Mathematical Council, at Towerbank Primary School in Portobello, Edinburgh, said: “Excellence in maths and numeracy is absolutely central to the ambitions of this government.
“Improving education is our number one priority and our commitment to that aim was demonstrated in last week’s draft budget with £179 million of investment to help close the attainment gap.
“We want to continue building on the enthusiasm and innovation we saw across Scotland during this year’s first ever Maths Week Scotland, in September. These school holiday challenges are part of a range of maths activities and events over the course of the year to help create a maths-positive nation where maths skills and confidence are valued, supported and celebrated across society.”
Eileen Prior, executive director, of the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, welcoming the maths quiz, said: “Making Maths Count is a great programme to help make maths meaningful for youngsters.
“One of the issues that’s been identified is that many people don’t see maths as important in their day to day lives. The other thing is that maths is often seen as serious and no fun at all.
“The Christmas Challenge is part of that whole picture of making maths relevant and fun and, of course, is also designed to keep kids thinking about learning while they are on holiday from school.
“Parents often tell us they want to know what they can do to help their children’s learning and this is the kind of thing many will appreciate. Of course many families will find the holidays come and go without looking at anything to do with school, but for others this will be a welcome resource. We’ll be promoting it through our social media.”