Modern maths doesn’t add up for parents

The maths divide has multiplied during lockdown, as new research reveals parents remain in the dark about basic calculations such as place value, multiplication and subtraction. It seems only a fraction of parents can do maths the modern way, as searches for ‘maths remote learning’ and ‘online maths tutor’ increased by 71% and 76% respectively, whilst searches for ‘maths help online’ were up by 50% in Jan/Feb 2021, during the third lockdown.

Despite months of home-schooling, it’s still not adding up for a quarter of parents with children in primary school, who admitted they are completely baffled when it comes to their kids’ homework, and that maths is the subject they find the hardest. According to Google search data, parents cite multiplication (+275%), dividing mixed fractions (+281%) and understanding the meaning of ‘place value’ (+1160%) as what they struggle with most, as well as subtraction, algebra and division.

When asked if they would find short tutorials useful, 94% parents gave a resounding yes in response. That’s why teacher-led education providers White Rose Maths is launching Maths with Michael, a six-part, introduction to maths video series, hosted by TV presenter and teacher Michael Underwood. The short series is designed to help primary school parents support their children, by covering off modern maths techniques in a concise, easy to digest format. The six-minute videos are short and snappy, with Michael putting theory into practice and sharing tips, tricks and ways to help your child engage with maths.

White Rose Maths also spoke to teachers, with 97% of those polled saying they thought parents would appreciate more guidance on how maths is taught in classrooms today*. Whilst happy to send their children back to school, parents are concerned about the level of learning they have missed out on[1], and so the tutorials come at a time when many are looking for easy ways to catch up.


Michael Underwood, TV presenter and teacher, said;

It’s been a long time since most parents have had to teach division or fractions, and the research shows a lack of understanding of the teaching methods we use today. Maths with Michael was born out of White Rose Math’s desire to help make it easier for parents to support their children with their maths work, and ease any concerns about catching up.

We’ve survived home-schooling, which is no mean feat, so now it’s about keeping up that momentum and maintaining the support for your children. We’ve seen that searches for ‘fun home learning activities’ declined by 75% over lockdown, not surprisingly I’ll admit, so we also want the series to bring a bit of fun back into learning maths and make the subject more accessible for everyone.”

Jess Easton, Head of Training for White Rose Maths, added;

These findings show that parents struggle to help their children with their maths work. The way children are being taught maths today is very different from when a lot of parents themselves were taught, which can often be a huge barrier. We know that both parents and teachers will be feeling the pressure to continue to support children now they are back in school and in catch-up mode. Our Maths with Michael series is designed to alleviate this pressure and do just that; provide the extra help that parents are asking for when it comes to subjects like maths.”

Maths with Michael, which will live on White Rose Maths’ Facebook page and its website, currently comprises of six introductory episodes to place value, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions and basic algebra. Five episodes are live now, and the final one will be uploaded on 7th April.

For those parents wanting to get a better understanding of why and how the maths Curriculum has changed since they were taught, there is an additional seventh video in which Michael covers this.


  1. Place value                                           +50%
  2. Dividing mixed fractions                +280%
  3. Multiplication                                      +46%
  4. Subtraction                                          +20%
  5. Algebra                                                  +12%



  1. Maths                                                   55%
  2. Physics                                                 24%
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  4. Chemistry                                            23%
  5. Languages                                           20%
  6. Biology                                                  14%
  7. History                                                  13%
  8. Geography                                            12%
  9. Design and Technology                     10%
  10. Art                                                          10%