Exclusive: DfE abandons flagship maths programme

18th August 2017 at 10:16
Funding for the Underground Mathematics programme has been terminated, despite goals to encourage more pupils to study maths

The Department for Education has withdrawn its funding from its flagship A-level maths-support programme, which will result in the closure of the project.

Underground Mathematics, an online programme managed by the University of Cambridge, was created five years ago. 

However, the programmes’ developers have been informed that their funding will not be renewed, and will be terminated with effect from 30 September.

Underground Mathematics offers a range of videos, resources and analysis for maths and further maths. It highlights links between mathematical topics, showing pupils the ways in which different areas of the curriculum interlink.

Existing resources will continue to be available on the Underground Mathematics website, and staff will continue to run professional-development programmes until March next year.


Lynne McClure, director of Cambridge Mathematics, which runs Underground Mathematics, said: "This end date has been known all along by the members of the project.

"We had hoped to secure continuation funding from the DfE but were unsuccessful. We have worked with the DfE to design an exit plan, which confirms open access to the website and all the resources, and the completion of the planned professional-development events. Current users of the resources will not notice any changes to the site." 

This announcement follows the release of the Smith report into maths teaching last month. The report, by Professor Sir Adrian Smith, vice-chancellor of the University of London, recommended that the government “should set an ambition for 16-18 mathematics to become universal in 10 years”.

The report specifically endorsed Underground Mathematics by name, adding: “The involvement of higher education in projects of these kinds deserves to be recognised and encouraged further by government.

“There is also a good case for universities to consider providing support for other subjects – for example, computing and modern foreign languages.”

'No coherent plan'

The government also recently withdrew its funding from the Core Maths programme, and all the website’s content was archived.

“They give money, but don’t maintain it for any length of time,” said David Miles, treasurer of the Mathematical Association. “They throw money at a programme for a couple of years, and then withdraw it.

“They keep saying they want to achieve these goals, but they don’t have any coherent way of doing so.”

The Department for Education has been contacted for a response.

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