Projecting a bright future

The scrapping of coursework from maths GCSE provides a perfect opportunity for schools to re-invigorate the way they teach the subject, a senior examiner has said.

Paul Metcalf, principal moderator for exam board AQA, said teachers could use the change in courses that start this September to adapt their teaching of GCSEproject work. Such work is widely seen as stilted and formulaic.

Maths will be the first GCSE to ditch coursework. Pupils will no longer be assessed in class. Mr Metcalf said that, as a result, many schools would be tempted to abandon investigations entirely. This would be a mistake, he believes. Teachers should persist with project work, even though it will not be assessed.

Pupils who carried out a statistical project, for example, would have a better grounding in data handling and would therefore benefit when answering relevant exam questions.

Precise details about what form the new exams will take have yet to be announced. It is expected that the 20 per cent of marks allocated to coursework in data handling and using and applying numbers will simply be replaced by extra exam questions in these subjects.

Stella Dudzic, of the curriculum development body Mathematics in Education and Industry, said: "I suspect there will be some schools where investigations won't happen any more. Often, particularly in departments that lack qualified staff, they look at what is in the exam and what is in the textbook, and gear their teaching to that."

Her organisation has produced a paper which argues that rigid mark schemes partly explain why GCSE maths coursework flopped.


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