We need to have a say on maths curriculum;Letter

4th June 1999 at 01:00
SO THE review of the national curriculum in England is published (www.qca.org.uk) and the consultation period begins!

What sort of consultation does David Blunkett, the Education Secretary, want? From the questionnaire it looks as if once again the Government is frightened to ask the educational community what it thinks about the actual curriculum.

All we have are rather banal general questions; answers to which will not help to encourage a wide discussion of the content of the curriculum. Does it mean that Mr Blunkett thinks that it's perfect this time? After all we were told that it was perfect the first time and then the next time and now this time!

The Mathematical Association has decided that real consultation would be valuable and is encouraging the mathematics community to look carefully at the national curriculum for England. The initial view of the maths content is favourable with sensible statements about the appropriate use of appropriate information technology in all key stages.

However there are some important issues that need to be revisited and clarified before the document is finalised. For example, the programme of study for key stage 3 suggests that all children should study all of the topics listed. Is this realistic?

Then at key stage 4 the document's writers realise that maybe not all children will be able to progress to the same level. So we have two strands: a foundation and higher level. And the foundation level is ... a repeat of key stage 3. So what is the document saying? When in doubt teach it again and again and again. It is this sort of nonsense that a true consultation would tease out!

What do you think as a maths teacher? Please come along to branch meetings of the Mathematical Association or write to me with your views.

Professor John Berry

Centre for Teaching Mathematics

University of Plymouth

Drakes Circus

Plymouth PL4 8AA

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