Flemish pupils world toppers in maths, according to new Timss study


According to the new Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, pupils in Flanders are mathematics whizzes – though do less well in science

Little Einsteins

Flemish 10-year-olds show a great aptitude for mathematics, according to the new Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (Timss), carried out in 49 countries across the world every four years among students in the fourth year of primary education.

Some 5,400 students from 153 Flemish schools took the Timss maths and sciences tests for the study. Belgium as a whole did not participate in the study.

Flemish students tied for 10th place with England for mathematics skills. The list was topped by Asian countries Singapore, Hong Kong and Korea. Other European countries in the top 10 included Ireland, Northern Ireland and Norway. (The UK did not test as a whole.)

Flemish youngsters scored less well in sciences, which included biology, natural sciences and geography, taking the 31st spot. Almost all the students who participated achieved the basic expected level of knowledge for both maths and sciences. Only a small percentage, however, showed an advanced level of knowledge.

According to education minister Hilde Crevits, many teachers indicated that they felt insufficiently trained to challenge students, particularly in the sciences. School directors point to a shortage of learning materials and adapted infrastructure for science lessons.

Crevits said that she is working on a strategic plan for primary education and wants to deploy specially trained teachers in science and technology to provide more specialised lessons.

The study also showed a link between performance and both the first language and socio-economic situation of the pupils. Children speaking little to no Dutch at home and those coming from a disadvantaged background generally have lower scores.

Photo: Woodleywonderworks/Flickr