The project aimed to establish the feasibility of a new mathematics GCSE curriculum for post-16 resit students; this curriculum would focus on practical applications of mathematics and be suitable for students who were not aiming for further study which required abstract mathematics.
Educational policy in England requires full-time students aged 16–18 who have not achieved grade 4 or higher in GCSE Mathematics to continue studying mathematics. Students who achieved grade 3 at age 16 are required to study for GCSE Mathematics. This policy was introduced following a report by Professor Alison Wolf, which found that ‘English and Maths GCSE (at grades A*–C) are fundamental to young people’s employment and education prospects.’. Unfortunately, the GCSE Mathematics resit success rate is very low.
In 2019, we were successful in gaining funding from the Nuffield Foundation to develop a new mathematics GCSE curriculum for post-16 resit students as a catalyst to establish the principle of an alternative mathematics GCSE for post-16 students.
MEI developed curriculum content and wrote exemplar examination papers, informed by reviews of national and international evidence. A small-scale feasibility study was conducted with key stakeholders to establish whether the proposed curriculum and assessment would be fit for purpose and practicable. The report from the project together with the draft curriculum, examination papers and example teaching resources have been made available online.
The outcomes and findings from the project have been outlined to teachers and other stakeholders at face-to-face meetings and online conferences. There has been interest in the possibility of the new curriculum becoming part of national provision. The project is continuing to act as a catalyst, but change is a long-term process that is dependent on political priorities and wider government policy.