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New post-16 qualifications to tackle 'maths gap' after GCSE

New maths qualifications designed to encourage students to continue studying the subject beyond GCSE have been unveiled.

The six core maths qualifications, which will count towards school and college league tables and the TechBacc performance measure, have been drawn up as alternatives to A-levels and are intended to prepare young people for the world of work.

The qualifications – developed with advice from employers, universities and professional bodies – teach pupils how to “apply maths to analyse situations”, such as mortgages, house prices changes and investments.

But a school leaders’ union has warned that the move could be hampered by a shortage of maths teachers.

School reform minister Nick Gibb said the level 3 courses developed by the OCR, City & Guilds, AQA, Pearson and WJEC exam boards would address the sixth-form “maths gap”.

“England has been falling behind other countries’ maths performance, which is why we have launched a new maths curriculum to match the best in the world and are introducing rigorous new GCSE and A-level maths qualifications,” he said.

“Only a fifth of pupils in England continue to study maths at any level after achieving a GCSE – the lowest of 24 developed countries.

“These new core maths qualifications will help address a 16-18 ‘maths gap’ whereby students who achieve a good maths grade at GCSE currently drop the subject and start to lose their confidence and skills.”

Malcolm Trobe, deputy general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said it was important that the new qualifications offered something different from a maths A-level.

“A big question is where the teachers will come from to teach these additional courses," he said. "We already know that one in five schools has a vacancy in maths. There is very limited capacity to offer additional maths courses."

Related stories:

Tristram Hunt: new maths qualification needed for learners who fail at GCSE – November 2014

Government to review policy on all students 'passing' GCSE English and maths – November 2014

Maths teachers lack confidence and qualifications, report finds – September 2014

Tailor-make exams so they’re ‘fit for purpose’ – September 2014

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