The State of Maths in Australia and How You can Help Fix it

Mar 1, 2020 | Gordon

Mathematics in Australia is in crisis. The recent Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) showed Australian students did not reach the OECD average for mathematics for the first time in 19 years.

Since 2003, Australia's results in maths have declined further than any country but Finland. Compared with the top-performer, Singapore, our students were three years behind in maths (we were also a year and three months behind in reading, and a year and nine months behind in scientific literacy.) The leading countries included Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau, and Japan. The best-performing English-speaking country was Canada.

While the Education Minister Dan Tehan said "these results should have alarm bells ringing’ the reality is any major change to curriculum will be a long-term exercise and those children currently in high school will probably miss out altogether. The good news is as parents we can play a major role in assisting our children’s learning and can be instigators of change well before the system catches up. 

Revere learning

“I’m not good at maths, but I made it through life just fine.”

It might seem like a simple statement to help placate a child that is struggling with maths, but the reality is sharing such a statement could have a long and profound effect on a child that interferes with their learning. Being responsible for helping your children develop a confidence and love for maths, and learning in general, is a gift worth sharing and a philosophy we hold dear at Mathnasium.

Maths challenges students not just intellectually but also emotionally and psychologically. Through learning you deal with adversity, frustration, feeling embarrassed, incompetent, inadequate, overwhelmed, but also pride, accomplishment and satisfaction. It shows children how to dig deep and initiate their own empowerment, which is something students can carry into other areas of their life and learning to their benefit.

Everyday Maths

Just like daily exercise is recommended for optimal health, regular learning is also a secret to success. We need to focus on making maths a normal part of each day. Practising and improving basic skills just a little every day – addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, will go a long way to helping children foster a respect for the subject and excel at it.

It can be as simple as getting the kids involved in basic addition at the supermarket, reciting timetables together, cooking together and working out fractions in the recipe, or doing some extra maths equations as part of homework. It’s all about doing things that make maths fun and helps build their confidence in the subject.


Take time to sit with your children and find out how they feel about maths. Sometimes children will be reticent to admit they don’t understand something or are struggling. If they love maths and excel at it, embrace that as well. Many of the future jobs globally will rely heavily on maths so we need to make a shift regarding mathematics in this country to ensure our children can compete. It is very interesting to note that all the top performing countries in the PISA report made a maths compulsory subject. While this is not in all schools, we can easily make maths part of everyday in your home. And we all know the saying… practice makes perfect.