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Article by Chloe Chapman: A school has come up with a fresh formula to help parents struggling to understand their children’s algebra homework.

More than 500 pupils are taught at Buttsbury Junior School, in Norsey View Drive, Billericay...but teachers will soon be turning their attention to mums and dads.

Parents will be asked to enrol in refresher classes in the notoriously difficult subject to ensure they have a better understanding in order to help children with their homework. It comes after algebra became more prominent in Year 6 syllabuses last year.

Headteacher Ann Robinson said:

“Algebra strikes fear into the hearts of parents. But we’ve noticed an interesting gender bias. When we hold parent workshops in maths we get more men in attendance, but more mums come for English workshops. I think it’s down to traditional values where men were deemed better at maths and women better at English. We need to break down that kind of mind set and empower people. It’s one of those subjects where after learning it at school, you don’t use it as an adult, so it can easily be forgotten.”

Mrs Robinson, who gained her own honours degree in maths, stressed the importance of the subject. She added:

“It helps children learn rationality and logic, and it increases their resilience.”

Dave Murray, who teaches at various south Essex schools, reiterated the importance of the subject. He said:

“It’s one of the only universal languages and I think it’s an extremely important part of the syllabus. It challenges logic and helps people to think critically rather than being spoon fed. Also, it’s a great contribution to the western world from the Muslim world.”

The study of algebra, which itself is derived from the Arabic word meaning “reunion of broken parts”, flourished during the Islamic golden age. Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi, a scholar in Baghdad’s House of Wisdom, is known as the father of the subject.

The next algebra workshop will take place from 7.30pm on Wednesday, January 25.

Article by Chloe Chapman, The Echo

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