Critical Maths: a mathematics-based thinking curriculum for Level 3


  • Compared to other countries, England has a low level of participation in mathematics post-16
  • To increase the level of participation, a new curriculum was needed; suitable for students who have achieved a level 2 pass in GCSE Mathematics
  • Professor Sir Timothy Gowers has suggested some interesting ideas for teaching mathematics to non-specialists

What we did

The DfE funded MEI to investigate how Professor Sir Timothy Gowers's ideas might inform a curriculum that could become the basis of a new course for students who do not currently study mathematics post-16.

The curriculum was based on students engaging with realistic problems and developing skills of analysing problems and thinking flexibly to solve them. Such problem-solving skills are highly valued by higher education and employers.

Our work included the following aspects:

  • Consulting with higher education, employer organisations, learned societies and professional bodies across a range of disciplines
  • Developing and trialling a suitable assessment methodology to enable the curriculum to be assessed in a way that encourages the development of transferable mathematical and statistical problem-solving skills
  • Developing teaching and learning resources which will be trialled in schools and colleges
  • Developing a professional development programme for teachers
  • Developing teaching and learning resources which were trialled in schools and colleges

Draft Curriculum and Assessment report

To find out more

The Feb 14 Edition of Monthly Maths includes an article about Critical Maths and a sample resource.


Please use the link below to navigate to more information about the following:

Core Maths qualifications


External links

BBC news item
Significance Magazine article