Public Transport


Public Transport

Pupils analyse a newspaper article, evaluating its (mathematical) claims and identifying its flaws.

Practical details

National Curriculum levels 5 to 8
30 to 45 minutes
Paper and calculator

Key Processes involved

Interpreting and evaluating
Analyse the information presented in the article and evaluate its truth
Communicating and reflecting
Communicate findings by writing a letter to the Editor of the newspaper, explaining why the article is misleading

Teacher guidance

To help pupils understand the task, you might begin by showing it on a whiteboard and commenting:

  • For this task you are given part of a newspaper article about people switching from driving their cars to using public transport. Think carefully about the information given and why it might be misleading.
  • Write a letter to the Editor of the newspaper explaining your views.
  • Look not only at what the article says, but also what it misses out! Write down all your reasoning in your letter, so the Editor can understand your point of view.

The task requires pupils to use a range of data handling skills, including sampling.

In trials, pupils tended to focus on a one aspect of the information. Pupils may need encouragement, through probing questions, to explore the information more broadly.

During the work, the following questions may be helpful:

  • Why do you think you have been told who carried out the survey?
  • What more information would you want to know about the survey?
  • What sorts of things does the article not tell you?
  • What is the evidence for the headline? How strong is that evidence?
  • Have you explained yourself clearly to the editor? Will she understand your points?

As for most open-ended tasks, the task can be approached in different ways. The progression statements refer to two unknowns - the sample and the wording (see the Annex of the teacher guide for hints).