Background

The details below chart the development of Core Maths from international comparisons through to considering the mathematical demands of university subjects. The key documents described below are:

  • ‘Is the UK an outlier?" - Nuffield report 2010
  • ‘Making it all add up: Business priorities for numeracy and maths’ CBI report 2010
  • ‘Post-16 Mathematics: A strategy for improving provision and participation’,
  • ‘Post-16 Mathematics: Planning for success’
  • ACME Reports December 2012
  • Report of the Expert Panel on Core Mathematics
  • Technical Guidance
  • Higher Education Academy Mathematical Transitions report

 

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‘IS THE UK AN OUTLIER?" - NUFFIELD REPORT 2010

Is the UK an outlier?

This report identified the alarming disparity between the proportions of students studying mathematics beyond the age of 16.  At that time only one-fifth of pupils in England continued to study maths at any level after achieving a GCSE - the lowest of 24 developed countries. A key recommendation from the report was for, ‘The creation of an intermediate option or options between basic and advanced mathematics, aimed at those students who have already achieved an A*-C grade at GCSE’.

 

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‘MAKING IT ALL ADD UP: BUSINESS PRIORITIES FOR NUMERACY AND MATHS’ CBI REPORT 2010

Making it all add up

That same year the CBI report ‘Making it all add up: Business priorities for numeracy and maths’ stated that, ‘At present not enough young people leave school or college with the numeracy and maths skills they need for work and life. The UK must do better’.

The report proposed that, ‘More young people must be encouraged to continue their numeracy and maths education post-16 to support the UK’s need for highly numerate technicians and employees with high-level science, technology engineering and maths (STEM) skills’.

The then Education Minister, Michael Gove, declared a government intention that by 2020 the vast majority of post-16 students would continue to study mathematics.

 

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‘POST-16 MATHEMATICS: A STRATEGY FOR IMPROVING PROVISION AND PARTICIPATION’, ‘POST-16 MATHEMATICS: PLANNING FOR SUCCESS’ ACME REPORTS DECEMBER 2012

POST-16 MATHEMATICS: A STRATEGY FOR IMPROVING PROVISION AND PARTICIPATION’,  ‘POST-16 MATHEMATICS: PLANNING FOR SUCCESS’   ACME REPORTS DECEMBER 2012

Two reports followed from the Advisory Committee for Mathematics Education (ACME) in December 2012. The first of these, ‘Post-16 Mathematics: A strategy for improving provision and participation’, stated, ‘There is a wide consensus amongst politicians, employers, higher education tutors and others that students in England should, like their counterparts in the vast majority of other countries, continue to study mathematics to the age of 18’. The report also identified the scale and nature of the challenge to address this.  ‘Increasing the number of students studying mathematics beyond GCSE by anything like 250,000 requires a coherent strategy and many years of investment.’

Planning for success

The second of these reports, ‘Post-16 Mathematics: Planning for success’, summarised the actions required for successful implementation as:

  • Coordination and consensus
  • Continued Professional Development and teacher supply
  • Clear and comprehensive communication
  • Curriculum and assessment
  • Creating incentives and recognition

 

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REPORT OF THE EXPERT PANEL ON CORE MATHEMATICS

REPORT OF THE EXPERT PANEL ON CORE MATHEMATICS

An Expert Panel was commissioned to report on Core Mathematics and it published its report in October 2013. Following consideration of the Expert Panel proposals the Department for Education (DfE) published ‘Core maths qualifications: technical guidance’ for consultation in April 2014. This lead to the approved technical guidance.

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TECHNICAL GUIDANCE

TECHNICAL GUIDANCE

Published in July 2014 after the publication of the Expert Panel proposals and a brief consultation period from April 2014, the technical guidance describes the purpose of the Core Maths qualifications as, ‘Core Maths qualifications should consolidate and build on students’ mathematical understanding and develop further mathematical understanding and skills in the application of maths to authentic problems, thereby offering progression from GCSE mathematics. Qualifications should provide a sound basis for the mathematical demands that students will face at university and within employment across a broad range of academic, professional and technical fields".

The three objectives for the Core Maths qualifications as set out in the technical guidance are to:

  • Deepen competence in the selection and use of mathematical methods and techniques.
  • Develop confidence in representing and analysing authentic situations mathematically and in applying mathematics to address related questions and issues.
  • Build skills in mathematical thinking, reasoning and communication.

The technical guidance stipulates that the Core Maths qualifications should be taught over180 guided learning hours. While there is no specific syllabus content the subject content should comprise up to 80% of the current higher level GCSE and at least 20% level 3 content.  Problem solving approaches are seen as central to Core Maths.  A minimum of 80% of the overall grade is based on external examination assessment at the end of the course. Additionally any internal assessment, which could contribute up to 20% of the marks, is subject to external moderation.

Core Maths will be first offered for examination in summer 2016.

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HIGHER EDUCATION ACADEMY MATHEMATICAL TRANSITIONS REPORT

Higher Education Academy - Mathematical Transitions

Also published in July 2014 a Higher Education Academy report, Mathematical transitions investigated the mathematical and statistical requirements of university degrees in Business and Management, Chemistry, Computing, Economics, Geography, and Psychology. Alarmingly over 80,000 students following these courses struggled to meet the mathematical demands. These students had passed the GCSE Mathematics exam at 16 but had then dropped the subject.

The report presented a strong case for Core Maths, enabling students to sustain their mathematical studies alongside their other post-16 courses and allowing them to retain, deepen and extend their mathematics knowledge. Doing so will enable students to cope better with the mathematical demands of education, as well as those of employment and everyday life.

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THE MATHEMATICAL BACKGROUNDS OF UNDERGRADUATES: Interim report

The mathematical backgrounds of undergraduates

Introduction This interim report describes the initial findings of an investigation into the mathematical backgrounds of students from England entering UK universities. Specifically, we report our findings broken down into HESA’s 19 high-level subject groups, together with findings from two of those subject groups at a more fine-grained level. The study builds on our earlier work in this area and we hope that the findings will contribute to the ongoing debate on post-16 Mathematics in England.1

Our full report, due to be available in Spring 2017, will report on the mathematical backgrounds of students in all 140 Principal Subjects together with an analysis of the distribution across HEIs. This will form the basis of a resource which will enable staff in higher education to examine the mathematical backgrounds of students taking courses in their disciplines, and to see how their institutions compare with others.

The report draws on a dataset formed from the combination of two large national databases: the National Pupil Database (NPD) and the Higher Education Statistical Agency (HESA) database. The dataset tracks 253,557 students who took their GCSEs at age 16 in 2008, took a level 3 qualification at some point between 2009 and 2011 and entered university at some point between 2010 and 2012. The data cover all HE subjects.