Maths has lost out on reform

11th March 2005 at 00:00
The Association of Teachers of Mathematics shares the view, already voiced by many educational bodies, that this Government is more interested in votes than the integration of academic and vocational education.

Those of us involved in mathematics education awaited the Government's response to Tomlinson with particular interest because, after all, in its response to Professor Adrian Smith's report, Making Mathematics Count, it had said that "we will secure the engagement of all learners through increased pathways, better vocational options, and stretching curricula for the most able.

"This will be integrated with our approach to broader curriculum reform to ensure consistency and portability of skills across the whole 14-19 curriculum".

However, there does not seem to be much opportunity for portability of skills in the white paper.

One of the main reasons the Government commissioned Professor Smith's report was because it wanted to increase the number of students continuing to study mathematics beyond GCSE.

The Government accepted the principles he suggested for the construction of flexible pathways for maths provision within the diploma framework that was being developed by the Working Group for 14-19 Reform.

But now we are back to GCSEs and A-levels, and some kind of functional maths test for those who cannot cope with GCSE. Clearly the Government is not really interested in improving mathematics; otherwise, it would not ignore what everyone is telling it.

Barbara Ball

Professional officer

Association of Teachers of Mathematics

Unit 7, Prime Industrial Park

Shaftesbury Street

Derby

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