Maths policy distracts from urgent curriculum debate

The prime minister’s announcement that students will study maths to 18 makes no real sense, is unworkable, and distracts from the real debate we need to have about our national curriculum, says Helen Osgood

Exam results over the past few years have shown a steady increase in the numbers studying maths at both GSCE and A level, and those achieving the highest grades.

Data from Ofqual shows that last year 75% of GCSE and 79% of A level students who took maths achieved a Grade C or above. This was an increase of around 5% for GCSE.

So it came as something of a puzzle to hear prime minister Rishi Sunak announce that students would be studying maths to 18.

His announcement cited low numeracy rates, but the exam results do not seem to support that. It is also worth noting that mathematics and numeracy are not necessarily the same thing – and the ability to pass a test does not prove that the knowledge is embedded; consider how many people would now struggle to solve simultaneous equations which they found straightforward in school.

Register now, read forever

Thank you for visiting SecEd and reading some of our content for professionals in secondary education. Register now for free to get unlimited access to all content.

What's included:

  • Unlimited access to news, best practice articles and podcast

  • New content and e-bulletins delivered straight to your inbox every Monday and Thursday


Already have an account? Sign in here