EFFORTS to improve the teaching of basic maths must be redoubled in a county where students’ lack of numeracy skills is eventually causing issues for employers, a meeting has heard.

North Yorkshire County Council’s young people and overview scrutiny committee heard despite some improvements, more than four in ten of 11-year-olds in some districts met the expected national numeracy and literacy standards.

Councillors were told achieving the expected level or above in reading, writing and maths combined at Key Stage 2 remained “an on-going challenge”.

Last year, 60.6 per cent of pupils in Hambleton, 59.6 per cent in Richmondshire and 56.8 per cent in Scarborough achieve the expected level in reading, writing and maths, whereas Harrogate and Selby districts both saw more than 65 per cent of pupils achieve the standard.

Officers told the meeting the results of tests for 11-year-olds in the county showed reading and writing were in line with national average, but maths was significantly behind.

However, members heard seven-year-old pupils’ performance in maths was only marginally below the national standard, indicating an issue over the teaching of the subject between the ages of seven and 11.

The meeting was told while some schools were struggling to recruit maths teachers, “nothing unique to North Yorkshire” had been identified as the cause of the maths issue.

Officers also dismissed suggestions that the maths issue could be related to the large proportion of smaller junior schools in the county and said their focus was on supporting those schools most in need of improvement, especially in developing skills in the use and application of mathematics at Key Stage 2.

They said the county’s six exemplar teaching schools were being used to guide teaching at schools where attainment was poor.

Councillor Lindsay Burr, who runs a training academy, said it was clear the county did not sufficiently focus on the skills that are needed in the workplace and progress on improving maths was too slow.

She said it was vital pupils got to grips with maths at an early stage as resits were “a complete and utter turn-off for any young person”.

Cllr Burr said: “We must go back to how it is embedded in schools. There’s far too many resits and students who struggle at functional skills. Employers are saying maths and English is what they want. Any job needs basic maths and English.

“I want to be the first to advocate apprenticeships, but students are struggling because they haven’t got it at schools. I have spoken to many heads about this. To say we are letting down 40 per cent is not good enough.”