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Integrating Mathematical Problem Solving (2011-12)

The Integrating Mathematical Problem Solving (IMPS) project aimed to highlight the importance of mathematical and statistical problem solving across the sixth form curriculum, enabling AS/A level students and teachers to see how mathematics and statistics are used in context across a variety of subjects.


Research published by the Nuffield Foundation in 2010 showed that the UK’s levels of participation in mathematics education post-16 were significantly lower than for other developed countries, and reports from the Advisory Committee for Mathematics Education in 2011 highlighted the need for more young people to learn mathematics to a higher level in order to meet the needs of industry and higher education.

MEI wanted to investigate how to ensure that students developed the ability to apply mathematics and statistics to analyse and solve problems across STEM subjects, social sciences and business and sought funding to carry out research and development work.


In 2011 we were successful in gaining funding from the Clothworkers’ Foundation to develop work on ‘Integrating Mathematical Problem Solving’ (IMPS) into the post-16 curriculum.


MEI worked with schools and colleges, universities, learned societies, professional bodies and industry to develop a set of resources designed to help teachers of mathematics and teachers of other subjects at A level to teach relevant aspects of mathematics and statistics, showing how they are used in solving real problems.


The recommendations in the report of this work helped to influence the Government to consider the development of new qualifications, and led to MEI receiving Government funding to develop a ‘Critical Maths’ curriculum, building on the ideas of Professor Sir Timothy Gowers. This curriculum development work, together with the IMPS project findings, was made available to inform awarding bodies’ development of the new ‘Core Maths’ qualifications, designed for students who have passed GCSE Mathematics but who do not intend to pursue a strongly mathematics-related discipline in higher education or employment. Core Maths qualifications were taken by over 12,000 students in 2021. The potential cohort is over 250,000 and the long-term aim is that over 100,000 students will take Core Maths qualifications each year.