Quality of maths teaching will be the subject of new government review

Chancellor George Osborne raises proposal that all pupils could study maths up to the age of 18

Tes Reporter

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A new government review will look at improving maths teaching for older pupils.

Professor Sir Adrian Smith will head the study, which will look into how schools can improve maths teaching and increase the uptake of maths as an A-level subject.

Research carried out by the Nuffield Foundation has shown that fewer students in England study maths beyond GCSE level than in any other developed country. The review has been commissioned by the chancellor, George Osborne. 

He used his Budget speech yesterday to state: "We are going to look at teaching maths to 18 for all pupils."

But a Treasury spokeswoman said that the chancellor had not promised to make maths compulsory for A level but was pursuing new teaching avenues in order to ensure that the future workforce is "skilled and competitive".

She said that employers were crying out for "improved numeracy skills", adding that the government had identified skills gaps in basic numeracy.

Sir Adrian has been vice chancellor of the University of London since 2012. In 2003 he carried out an inquiry for the government into improving GCSE maths results.

However, some teenagers reacted negatively to the chancellor's announcement, with many posting comments on social media, criticising the proposal for extending maths learning.

'Some people hate maths'

Among them was Tom Willett, 18, an A-level maths student from Shropshire, who said: "Compulsory maths until 18 is absolutely ridiculous. Force people to do something they hate and they will loathe the system.

"I struggle with A-level maths now and I won scholarships. If you make every Tom, Dick and Harry do maths up to 18, I don't see how it can be worth teachers' and students' time. It is a waste of resources."

But Cameron Butt, 16, a sixth-form maths student at Lawrence Sheriff School, in Rugby, said he thought it was a "brilliant idea".

"When I started doing maths I understood how applicable it is in all parts of life. But I understand why some people might not be happy," he added.

His headteacher, Dr Peter Kent, welcomed the announcement with some caution, raising questions about how the subject would be assessed.

"Is everyone going to do an A level in maths? I think the principle is sound but there is more work to be done on the details. What we don't want is some token maths course," he said.

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