Policy-makers need to do more to help schools tackle low achievement in mathematics and science, according to two reports presented by the European Commission.
The report on mathematics education reveals that only five European countries (England, Italy, the Netherlands, Ireland and Norway) have set national targets to boost achievement levels, although a majority of EU Member States provide general guidelines to address pupils' difficulties in this area. The report on science shows that no Member States have specific national support policies for low achievers, although five countries (Bulgaria, Germany, Spain, France and Poland) have launched programmes to tackle low achievement in general. The reports conclude that although much has been achieved in updating mathematics and science curricula, support for the teachers responsible for implementing the changes is still lacking.
Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, said: "Europe needs to improve its educational performance. Both mathematics and science play a crucial role in modern curricula in meeting not only the needs of the labour market, but also for developing active citizenship, social inclusion and personal fulfilment. These studies show that although progress is being made, we still have a long way to go. We also need to address gender balance so that more girls are encouraged in science and mathematics. It's time to step up our efforts to support the teaching profession and to help children who are struggling at school."
Both reports provide a comparative analysis of approaches to teaching mathematics and science, with the aim of contributing to European and national debate on how to improve standards.