MEI strongly endorses the recommendations of Professor Sir Adrian Smith’s review of post-16 mathematics education.

Posted: 26/07/2017

Professor Sir Adrian Smith’s review of post-16 mathematics education supports MEI’s view of the vital importance of increasing participation in post-16 mathematics education, and the review’s recommendations recognise actions required to enable schools and colleges to improve levels of student participation and achievement.

MEI is a charity that exists to support improvements in maths education and to ensure that all young people have the opportunity to access maths education they need to fulfil their aspirations; Sir Adrian’s recommendations reflect the measures for which MEI has been campaigning. The review calls for continuing national support programmes for the AS/A level qualifications in Mathematics and Further Mathematics, and for Core Maths, and recognises the need for funding incentives to enable schools and colleges to ensure that all students can have access to these qualifications. It also highlights the need to address the current problems with the GCSE re-sit policy for mathematics, which saw over 70% of re-sit students, more than 120 000 young people, fail to achieve a level 2 pass in GCSE Mathematics last summer. The review’s recognition of the need to support the provision of mathematics in FE, which carries much of the burden of GCSE Mathematics resit, is particularly welcome.

MEI initiated the Further Mathematics Support Programme (FMSP), and has managed it nationally, funded by successive governments, since 2005. The review recognises the achievements of the FMSP over that period, which has seen the numbers of students taking Further Mathematics A levels more than double from less than 6000 to well over 14 000. Very importantly, in its initial response to the review, the DfE has committed £16 million over two years to a new Level 3 Mathematics Support Programme, to build from the work of both the FMSP and the Core Maths Support Programme (CMSP) to support schools, colleges and teachers to offer a full range of level 3 mathematics pathways. MEI will ensure that the FMSP will provide continued AS/A level Mathematics and Further Maths support for schools and colleges until the new Level 3 Mathematics Support Programme is in place.

The review highlights the potential for the use of technology to improve post-16 mathematics education. MEI has pioneered the use of technology in mathematics teaching through its curriculum, resources and professional development work, including through the provision of online teaching, learning and professional development programmes, and its Integral online learning platform. We strongly welcome the review’s call to improve the evidence base on the use of technology in 16-18 mathematics education.

MEI is especially pleased that the report emphasises the need to address negative attitudes towards mathematics and to tackle gender and regional inequalities in access and uptake to post-16 maths education.

The review is a clear wake-up call. For both individual and national success, far more young people need to succeed in mathematics education, and a far greater proportion of the population needs to become proficient in mathematics and statistics at a level beyond GCSE. At MEI we will do all we can to support the recommendations of the review, so that all young people can have the opportunity to access the mathematics education they need to succeed.

Charlie Stripp, MEI Chief Executive and Director of the NCETM

See also Charlie’s comments on the NCETM News page: The NCETM welcomes new £16m programme to support post GCSE Maths.

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