A levels will remain for students taking advanced mathematics, but a new “core mathematics qualification” is to be introduced in 2015 for “students who have achieved a grade C at GCSE, but who do not want or cannot take A level maths”.
The plans were unveiled by education minister Elizabeth Truss during an address to the Oxford Conference in Education, at St John’s College in Oxford, earlier this month.
It comes alongside new rules which came into force last month making it mandatory for any student who has not obtained at least a C grade in GCSE English or mathematics to continue to study the subjects post-16.
Ms Truss said: “In the future we don’t want students to choose whether to do maths at 16 – but ‘which maths’ they are going to take. By 2020, we want the vast majority of students to take the subject up to 18.”
She said the new qualification would “increase fluency in core mathematical techniques as well as getting students to understand statistics and be able to use maths in a practical way”.
The DfE is also proposing a new league table measure of the proportion of students taking maths beyond GCSE.
The news comes after the DfE said last month that it is to invest £11 million to create a national network of around 30 “mathematics education strategic hubs”.
The hubs will be led by Teaching Schools and will provide support to schools in their areas across all aspects of mathematics education, including recruitment of specialists, initial training of teachers, CPD, developing leadership, and supporting enrichment programmes.
Awarding body AQA welcomed news of the new qualification. Chief executive Andrew Hall said: “We’ve been really worried that students who have been turned off maths at a young age never get the higher level skills they need to succeed in life.”