Mathematics now studied by 1 in 3 A level students

Posted: 13/08/2015

The numbers of students taking AS and A level Mathematics and Further Mathematics have increased for the twelfth consecutive year.

Congratulations to all those students who successfully completed their A levels in Mathematics and Further Mathematics this summer.

Over 92 000 students took A level Mathematics this year, with almost 15 000 also completing A level Further Mathematics. Mathematics has consolidated its position as the most popular A level choice in the UK. This reflects the growing recognition by students, teachers, higher education and employers of the importance and usefulness of strong mathematical skills. Growth in numbers taking AS Further Mathematics has also been dramatic, with a further rise of 10% since 2014.

The Further Mathematics Support Programme (FMSP), managed by Mathematics in Education and Industry (MEI), is a government-funded initiative. Over the last 10 years the FMSP has supported the teaching of A level Mathematics and Further Mathematics in schools and colleges and worked with thousands of students each year, enriching their learning and promoting the study of mathematics. During this period the FMSP has also provided professional development to thousands of mathematics teachers to enhance mathematics teaching at both A level and GCSE. Improving students' experience of mathematics at GCSE level is vital for increasing participation at A level. The FMSP continues to work directly with teachers in schools and colleges across England to support and expand provision for A level Mathematics and Further Mathematics. The continued increases in participation in the mathematics A levels would not be possible without the efforts of classroom mathematics teachers and their dedication and enthusiasm should be applauded.

Working with other mathematics and STEM organisations, the FMSP seeks to increase teaching capacity and encourage student interest in mathematics, helping to motivate more students to choose A levels in Mathematics and Further Mathematics and ensuring they have the opportunity to do so.

The clear message that mathematics is a key facilitating subject for further study in a wide range of subjects, opening doors to many exciting and rewarding careers, has been widely promoted by the Further Mathematics Support Programme and other organisations. The increased numbers of A level students in Mathematics and Further Mathematics show that this message is resonating with more and more students.

Whilst this year's increases are a cause for celebration, in order to equip more young people for exciting careers in STEM, and help ensure the UK workforce remains competitive in the global economy, we must continue to build on the increased participation in A level Mathematics and Further Mathematics. This is especially true for girls who are under-represented in the student cohorts for the mathematics A levels, making up around 40% of A level Mathematics students and 30% of A level Further Mathematics students.

The FMSP will continue to do all it can to bring about further increases in participation in the mathematics A levels.

Compared with 2014:

A level Mathematics numbers are up from 88 816 to 92711, an increase of 4.4%.
A level Further Mathematics numbers are up from 14 028 to 14 993, an increase of 6.9%.

AS level Mathematics numbers are up from 161 711 to 165 311, an increase of 2.2%.
AS level Further Mathematics numbers are up from 24 530 to 27 034, an increase of 10.2%.

Since 2003 A level Mathematics numbers have increased by 83% (from 50 602) and AS Mathematics numbers have increased by 159% (from 63 841).

Since 2003 A level Further Mathematics numbers have increased by 182% (from 5 315) and AS Further Mathematics numbers have increased by 702% (from 3 371).

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