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 standard 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


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