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Technology + freedom = magnificent maths

A tougher maths curriculum may not get many cheers in classrooms ("DfE warning: maths will be tougher under new curriculum", 25 March), but it is essential if the UK is to match our economic competitors.

A survey of 24 developed countries for the Nuffield Foundation has found that England, Wales and Northern Ireland have the lowest participation levels in post-16 maths, with only 20 per cent of such students studying the subject. In most other developed countries at least 50 per cent of post-16s studied maths; in a third, it was studied by all.

Is it time to make some kind of maths compulsory in post-16 education? Until there are popular and well-understood post-16 maths qualifications standing alongside A-levels, we are likely to remain at the bottom of this table.

Professor Sir John Holman, Department of Chemistry, York University.

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