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Creating a positive culture for reasoning

Using Isambard Kingdom Brunel's Clifton Suspension Bridge to inspire a lesson on geometric and algebraic modelling is one of the many teaching ideas featured in a free booklet published by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA).

Interpreting the Mathematics Curriculum: Developing Reasoning through Algebra and Geometry, has been produced to promote the importance of reasoning skills, says the QCA's head of maths Alice Onion.

"Clear, focused reasoning is an essential life skill, and highly valued by employers. It is predominantly through the maths curriculum that pupils will develop those logical reasoning skills," she says.

The booklet is a result of the algebra and geometry project, which was set up to find ways in which the study of geometry and algebra could be used to enhance reasoning skills.

During the first phase of the project, the English maths curriculum was compared with that of other countries. For the second phase, six working groups of teachers and local education authority advisers, together with university academics, collaborated to develop some of the teaching approaches, ideas and strategies which appear in the booklet.

As well as the exercise on modelling, there are suggestions for embedding the concept of generality, activities for the development of spoken and written reasoning, ideas on encouraging discussion and the use of dynamic geometry software.

Alice Onion says the resource is not a list of instructions or a file of lesson plans, but a collection of ideas that will help to create a positive culture for reasoning. "The manual is designed to be exciting for learners, as well as mathematically rigorous. It is a set of innovative good teaching approaches."

* Interpreting the Mathematics Curriculum: Developing Reasoning through Algebra and Geometry will be sent to all heads of mathematics; extra copies (pound;6 each) are available from the QCA website at

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